Saturday, 21 February 2015

Our Featured Writer DM Cain

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to our latest Blogpost featuring this month's author, DM Cain. By one of those strange coincidences I met DM through my Twitter friendship with last month's featured author, Stewart Bint.
Both Stewart and DM are friends who don't live terribly far from each other. DM was kind enough to give me a copy of her book Pheonix Project and look, I know I always say this but you really should read it.
  Her novel is set in a future that draws on the religious intolerance that is plauging the world today so her vision of the future isn't so unbelievable as you might think. I will only recommend books that I've personally read and this one chilled me to the bone.
  So I'd now like to indroduce you to the lady herself...

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a primary school teacher in Leicester, UK. I’ve been working at my current school for 5 years teaching year 5 (aged 9 and 10 years.) It’s a great job and I love inspiring young minds – especially in writing!

Before becoming a teacher I completed my degree in Psychology and English Literature, and then jetted off to Japan to teach English as a second language. It was two of the most amazing years of my life and I had an incredible time learning all about Japanese history and culture.

I've been writing on and off for around fifteen years. I started writing ideas and random chapters of stories in my late teenage years, never settling on one plot. When I was around 19 years old I finally focused on my favourite idea - that of a dark, brutal prison where inmates were forced to fight to the death. This became 'The Phoenix Project.' I didn't begin writing in earnest until around 6 years ago when I met Matthew (who would later become my husband.) He was a writer too and he inspired me to pick 'The Phoenix Project' back up again. I finished it within a few years and then turned to my next project, 'A Chronicle of Chaos,' which had been stewing in my head for years.

What are your books about?

The Phoenix Project is a dark, psychological dystopian thriller. It bears similarities to The Hunger Games, but is darker and more adult, focusing on moral and psychological issues such as self-harm, depression, terrorism and government control of the population.

A Chronicle of Chaos is the first in an epic fantasy series. It features large scale battles, magical powers, supernatural creatures such as demons and angels; and at the centre of it all – a controversial and forbidden love story.

What is your writing process?

I tend to write late at night at my kitchen table with instrumental music playing in my headphones to blot out all distractions. Once I get into ‘the zone’ I write into the early hours of the morning! I also love to go out to a quiet pub or cafe and write, although if I do that, I always hand write. I have maybe 20 or so notebooks filled with handwritten chapters of my two books

What inspires you to write?

Music is extremely important to me and my writing. I have a very visual imagination and need to picture things vividly in my head to write about them. I construct scenes in my mind, like watching a movie, and music is often a very important part of these scenes. I have a whole list of songs which will forever be tied to certain scenes from my books.

How did you pick your pen name?

I read an interesting tip that suggested picking a name that would place you alphabetically between two readers you admire. I adore Suzanne Collins and Terry Brooks, so I chose Cain. I also liked the dark connotations of the name Cain, which fitted perfectly as my work is often quite sinister and brooding :) The D and M stand for the names of my husband and son. 


How do you choose titles for your books?

In ‘The Phoenix Project’ I liked the concept of purging through fire and allowing rebirth. The whole concept of the book is Raven’s burning self-hatred and guilt, but the novel explores his journey towards rebirth and debates whether it is ever possible to recover after such dark experiences.

The title of each of the books in the Light and Shadow Chronicles have been picked very carefully. Every book is alliterative – ‘A Chronicle of Chaos’ and ‘The Shield of Soren’ as examples. Most of the titles contain a character’s name and are in the same format – The ...... of .....

Who are your favourite authors? Which author(s) had a significant impact on you growing up?

My current favourite authors are Suzanne Collins (author of The Hunger Games and Gregor the Overlander) and C.L. Schneider (author of The Crown of Stones series), but I only got into their work very recently. I have always been a huge fan of Terry Brooks’ ‘The Word and the Void’ trilogy and Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials.’ As for books that influenced me growing up, there is a huge range as books have always played a large role in my life. Some notable works that I love are: The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1984, A Clockwork Orange, Lord of the Flies, The Yellow Wallpaper, Paradise Lost, Hamlet and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

What was the last great book you read?

The last book that totally blew me away was ‘The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price.’ It takes place in a dark, oppressive fantasy world where magic is a drug that is powerful and consuming but also devastatingly addictive. The plot was everything I love – dark, brutal, deep and thought-provoking, epic and fantastical, but what really made this book come alive was the characters. The three main characters were brilliantly written, unique, and I became very attached to all of the them. If C.L. Schneider doesn’t make it big, there is no justice in the world!

Can you tell me more about the world you created in The Children of Light series?

The world in the Light and Shadow Chronicles is in a state of eternal war between two nations – The Children of Light and Brotherhood of Shadow. They have been at war for thousands of years, in a stalemate that is manipulated by forces greater than any of the characters realise. In order for one side to shift the scales in their favour they have to recruit greater forces – angels, demons, dragons, armies of the underworld, magical beings etc. The war continues to grow in scale until the entire world is dragged into the conflict and it can only end in a cataclysmic Armageddon.

Each of the novels in the series focuses on a significant character or group and their role within the battle. Every story is laying the foundations for something else, like building blocks for the epic finale. The books are written out of order – one story may feature a character in his adulthood, the next is set before he is born, the next after his death. Putting the order of events together is up to the reader. This means the books can be read in any order as each of them leads towards the climax, like the spokes of a wheel. 

How many books do you plan on writing in The Children of Light series and over how many years do you think that will take?

Three of the novels in the series have been written already and a short story is underway at the moment. I think (though this may change!) there will be 16 or 17 stories, some of which will be full-length novels, some short stories or novellas. As for how long it will take, I really don’t know! I’m getting much faster at writing them but I suspect it will still take 10 – 15 years at least (unless I can ever make enough money to do it full time!)

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

With a demanding full time job and a hyperactive toddler, there isn’t much free time in my life! I tend to fill as much of my free time as possible with writing and editing my work, but I do also edit and proofread other authors’ work. I read a lot – mostly fantasy, and love to watch fantasy and sci-fi dramas such as Game of Thrones, Lost, Fringe, Heroes etc. I’m also a huge geek and love manga, anime and role playing games such as Final Fantasy.

I'd like to thank DM for taking the time from her busy schedule, not only as a writer but as a wife and mum (those roast dinners don't cook themselves lol) and I'm sure you all wish her every success with her new epic fantasy series...Well done DM!

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