This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with Justin Lee Anderson.
Justin spent 15 years as a professional writer and editor before his debut novel, Carpet Diem, was published in 2015. It became a best-seller and won a 2018 Audie award. Since 2018 he has been writing full time, alongside working on scripts with his wife, Juliet, who he met through a BBC scriptwriting contest.
They live just outside his hometown of Edinburgh with their Brady Bunch family of five kids.
He misses Firefly. No Wash jokes. Still too soon.
What kind of stories do you write?
I have always hated nothing more in fiction (books, TV or films) than predictability. If I know what’s going to happen, I’m usually out. So while my books are fantasy (comedy urban and epic mystery) what they share is plots that twist and turn in unusual and hopefully unexpected directions. I try to make sure that readers are engaged without feeling lost, and keeping the plot believable but unpredictable. I love a good twist, but it has to be done right. If it is, readers won’t see it coming, but will also feel that it makes perfect sense, and that the clues were there, if they’d known where to look for them.
Can you describe your writing why?
I love stories. I once responded to a similar question, saying that writing feels like coming up for air after being stuck underwater for a long time, and I still like that analogy. It’s liberating and exciting and fulfilling. When that experience is combined with feedback from readers who enjoy your work, there’s not a lot to beat that feeling.
Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most
Tricky. There are a few, but it’s hard to pick one without spoilers because - well, it’s that kind of book. Actually, here’s one section I like from quite early in the book. I can really picture this scene in my head and I had it as a ‘moment’ before I had even written the setup.
“Soldier!” an unfamiliar voice bellowed. “Shield!”
Aranok turned to see who was sprinting towards them.
Glorbad dropped to one knee and braced his shield at an angle. The newcomer ran straight at him, put one foot on the shield and Glorbad groaned with the effort of pushing upwards, collapsing backwards as he did.
The figure leapt high, white armour gleaming in the firelight like a burning angel.
Tell us about your latest project
The Lost War is a twisted fantasy road trip that combines elements of Edinburgh’s history and mythology with a classic role-playing fantasy vibe. In the aftermath of a great war, the story follows Aranok, the first magic-using draoidh to be made king’s envoy, as he leads a group of strangers across country on a mission to restore an exiled foreign queen. But on the way they find things in the country are not as they believed, and a greater mystery slowly unravels into a conspiracy that could bring down the whole kingdom. If you’re into epic fantasy with a mystery at its core and plenty of twists along the way, you might enjoy it.
What is your favourite cake?
My wife, Juliet, makes the most incredible cupcakes. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I can narrow it down to either the blueberry cheesecake ones, or apple pie and custard. Don’t make me pick one!
You can connect with Justin via his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all his books are on Amazon.
Join me next week when I'm joined by Nicholas Woode-Smith.
If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.
You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!