Donna: Today, my guest author is J. Lloyd Morgan, Author of The Hidden Sun. Welcome! Thanks for visiting me today. My first question is, what genre or sub-genre do you write? Why did you choose this genre?
To be honest, The Hidden Sun doesn’t fit in a particular genre, per se. It has a broad classification of fantasy because it takes place in medieval times in a fictitious land with fictitious characters. However, magic isn’t used and there are no non-human characters. Heck, there aren’t even dream sequences. I wanted to write a story where interesting characters were faced with challenges that they couldn’t solve with technology or magic. Too often (way too often) I’ve been disappointed in fantasy books where at the pivotal moment the hero suddenly uses a magic power that they didn’t know they had (and neither did the reader) to save the day. I feel like it is cheating. The same could be said about technology—after all, the technology of today would appear to be magic to someone four hundred years ago.
Donna: Very true! So tell me, what are you working on now?
The Hidden Sun is a pretty much a standalone book. However, while editing it, I got an idea for another story using a minor character from The Hidden Sun. My second book is written and is in the editing stages. Along the same lines, I got an idea for another book which I’ve just started writing. I’ve completed the outline and have written the prologue and first chapter. The best way to describe how these books fit together is similar to The Chronicles of Narnia. The setting is the same, but time passes and new characters are introduced.
Donna: How do you write? Are you a pantser (seat of the pants writer) or a plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influences you the most?
I’m actually a combination of the two. I’ve written rough outlines for both of my completed books, but the actual stories were significantly different in the end. Why? Because as the characters develop, they will do things or act in ways that may cause the story to change. I would say it is really the characters that influence me the most, because as I get to know them, I’m curious to see what they will do when I present them with a challenge. To me, that is the magic of the writing process. At the same time, I need some sort of overall story I want to tell—sort of like a lighthouse on the horizon. There can be any number of ways to reach the lighthouse, and sometimes the original way I had planned on getting there changes—for the better.
Donna: Aren’t those little deviations fun? How do you choose your characters’ names?
This is actually a fun part of writing for me. For character’s names, I pick them based on what the name means and how it relates to the character. A couple of examples from The Hidden Sun:
One scene takes place in a store that sells candles. The owner’s name is Chandler, which means “candle seller.” Another minor character is distinguished by his pronounced crooked nose. His name? Cameron. The meaning? “Crooked nose.” For fictitious names for places or events, I use anagrams. An example: each spring there is a contest where young men from all over the kingdom come to compete for the right to become guardians. The name of this event is the Mortentaun—an anagram for “Tournament.”
Donna: Wow, the really great name of Cameron suddenly took on a whole new meaning for me. Tell me what motivated you to write your current book?
I had a very vivid dream one night—which actually turned out to be chapter eleven in The Hidden Sun. I told my wife about the dream and she said, “That’s interesting. Who were those people?” The answer? I didn’t know. From there, I thought about where these characters came from and what they would do next. In addition, one of my favorite movies of all time is The Princess Bride. As a father of four daughters, I wanted to write a book they could read, yet at the same time, it was something adults could enjoy. From the reviews I’ve received thus far, I’ve succeeded.
Donna: What’s the craziest, bravest, or stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
Writing a book is the craziest and bravest thing I’ve done. It takes a lot of guts to put your work out there to be judged by the masses. It would have been so easy to quit and give up at any time along the path, but I didn’t. A fun side note: the start of chapter ten of The Hidden Sun is my response to those that thought I was crazy to write a book. It works well in the story as it moves the plot along, while at the same time it gives me an outlet to express myself.
Donna: Okay now here’s the power round:
Favorite food? Capt’n Crunch—my main food staple while going to school.
Favorite dessert? Homemade cherry pie—yummy!
Jeans and T-shirt, or designer clothes? Jeans and a T-shirt, designer clothes go in and out of fashion too quickly.
Guilty pleasure? Sleeping in on Saturdays.
One word that describes you? Clever
Favorite flower? Snapdragon—so much so, I even named a character after the flower.
Favorite sport? Baseball—I’m a huge Atlanta Braves fan.
Donna: Thank you very much for the interview.
Thank you so much for your time! It’s been fun to reflect back on the process and how far things have come.