Thursday, July 23, 2009

mX picture story

The free commuter newspaper, mX, ran the following story on me on Thursday July 23:

Some people use the time to daydream, others read and some sleep.
But one CityRail passenger used his time commuting to write a book. Three books, to be precise.
The two-hour commute each way from Gosford to Central station became the time Duncan Lay used to write his fantasy trilogy.
The first book, The Wounded Guardian, has been published by HarperCollins.
``Writing a book is the perfect way to use a long train trip,'' he said.``You don't have other distractions and you can just get stuck into the writing.``I was able to feel like my trip was not wasted.''
The three books have taken Lay about five years to write.``The amount I would write varied on the inspiration that was striking me on the day, but I average about 10,000 words a week while writing a first draft.''
The biggest trouble he had writing on the train was the occasional tussle over the armrest.
``You need a little bit of elbow room when writing and sometimes there is a spot of elbow fencing over how much room everyone wants,'' he said.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Sunday Telegraph article

As I work for The Sunday Telegraph, our books writer, Lucy Clark, as well as editor Neil Breen, very kindly arranged for the following article to appear on July 5:

Not many commuters would claim hundreds of hours spent on CityRail trains as a wonderful gift. Yet that is exactly how The Sunday Telegraph journalist and Central Coast commuter Duncan Lay regards his time spent on the train from Gosford.
While those around him read or stared out windows, Lay transported himself into the fantasy world of a country called Norstalos, with characters and a story that won him a three-book deal with HarperCollins.
The first of the books, The Wounded Guardian (Voyager, $20.99) is on bookshelves this week.
Here Lay reveals exactly how he did it:``Writers normally like somewhere peaceful to come up with their first book -- a stereotypical garret or a villa in Tuscany, perhaps.``I used the 7.33am from Gosford to Sydney Central.``My publisher tells me I'm the only author to have put together three books on the train, and certainly nobody I've spoken to can remember another author doing the same -- or at least admitting to it.
``In some ways it was the perfect place to write. You can't go anywhere and you've seen the view hundreds of times before, so there's no excuse not to knuckle down and work.''
In the same vein as Raymond E. Feist and David Eddings, The Wounded Guardian will appeal to die-hard fantasy fans who enjoy being transported into mystical lands where lives are won and lost by magical powers and epic wars.
The story centres around wounded warrior, Martil, who has been branded ``the Butcher of Belic'' and must leave his homeland.
Captured by bandits he's tricked into taking into his care Karia, an orphan who is trying to reach the home of her uncle.But when Martil and Karia arrive the village has been destroyed and the people are gone. The only remaining resident is an ex-bandit who has in his possession a magical relic belonging to the rulers of Norstalos -- the Dragon Sword.
Suddenly this unlikely and reluctant duo find themselves in the middle of a dramatic struggle as Norstalos's good queen fights to keep her crown from her cousin Duke Gello and his dark forces.
At the heart of Lay's first novel lies a lesson about the search for family, and how, by seeing life through the eyes of children, yours can change forever.

The Daily Telegraph article

The Daily Telegraph featured the following article on me, published Wednesday July 22:

IT WAS a coffee with one of the world's top fantasy writers that fired Duncan Lay's creative spirit.
The Sydney writer was editing a local paper in 2002 and Raymond E. Feist, author of novels such as the Conclave Of Shadows was touring the area. Lay grabbed him for an interview.
`We started talking about writing and I'd been, like most journos, a frustrated writer,'' Lay says.
`We talked about how you work out your plots and he talked about how his characters take control of the story. He has the bare bones of the story and knows they start at A and finish at Z but how they get there is up to the characters themselves.''
Lay's self-diagnosed problem was that his characters were a bit flat. But, two kids and a few years down the track, Lay felt a little older and wiser and more confident after the chat with Feist. So he had another crack.
He now has a three-book deal with HarperCollins with The Wounded Guardian, the first instalment in Lay's The Dragon Sword Histories, now fresh on bookshop shelves.
And character was the key to his success.
The plot centres on a war hero, Martil, who is persuaded to take a child to her uncle. He is soon caught in tumultuous events and in possession of a magic sword, fighting for his life amid the battle for a kingdom.``I really wanted this idea of an embittered warrior, almost like a Vietnam vet, someone who had seen too much,'' Lay says.
For want of a better description, this is realist fantasy (no elves, goblins or fairies), led by a believable cast of characters.``One of the things I've tried to do is not simply to have this plucky group of heroes on an expedition. They're all unique characters and quite often they don't get along.''
As for Lay's own journey, well he dropped a gracious email to Feist via his management and got a quick reply, including a disclaimer.``Don't go blaming me, mate, if you got the storytelling bug,'' Feist wrote. ``And if you somehow get rich and famous doing this, it's not my fault! Seriously, congratulations.''

This was written by Chris Hook, editor of T Weekend and a former workmate from Cumberland Newspapers. Needless to say, I think he's a great writer!