Author interview with Marcus Lee

In the very first of my author interviews, I speak to Marcus Lee — the author of the epic fantasy trilogy, The Gifted and The Cursed.

I read the first book in Marcus Lee’s trilogy, Kings and Daemons, almost a year ago now, when he reached out to me on Twitter. In my review, I described this book as “a fantastic read and is an incredible accomplishment for a first book.” (Read my review of Kings and Daemons here.)

Kings and Daemons is Marcus’s first novel, written during lockdown. The land has been corrupted by Daleth the Witch-King, who has ruled the kingdom for the last 50 years. He gains his magic and immortality from the suffering of others (something I haven’t come across in fantasy before!). Maya has the power to heal the world (and others), although this also takes a toll on her. Magic is banned, and so when Maya’s power is discovered, she is taken to see the Witch-King himself. On this journey, she meets Taran, a soldier who is hiding powers of his own.

I loved the series, and Marcus was one of the first people I reached out to about an interview — so I was very excited when he agreed! Read my interview with Marcus below.

The Gifted and The Cursed trilogy by Marcus Lee
The Gifted and The Cursed trilogy by Marcus Lee

Tell me about yourself — where do you live, your home life, your career, and your writing!

Well, I feel gifted to live in a leafy London garden suburb, and have done so for the last 13 years. I think it is so important to feel in tune with the environment that suits you, so being a lover of the countryside, I was fortunate to find a middle ground. To live in London yet feel surrounded by nature. I live on my own, yet my son comes to stay regularly, and I am gifted with some fine local friends too. I have a career in sport that takes far too much time, and I’m hoping to find a better balance in future should my writing find a wider audience.

Have you always wanted to be an author? Did you write many books/stories before your first book was published?

I’ve written many short stories and countless poems over the years, so without question, the desire was within me. I just needed the catalyst to bring it forth, and that was the time given to me by the pandemic.

Where do your ideas and inspiration come from?

The inspiration to complete this work came from a discussion with my son. We were talking about my late father who he had never met. The conversation covered legacies, and how there was so little passed on from generation to generation, and how soon everyone is forgotten. So, we came up with a plan for me to write a book for my son, for him to write one for his children, and so on, a tradition for every generation to follow. Then, in years to come, there’d be a bookshelf groaning with dozens of family written novels.

Which character in The Gifted and The Cursed series was your favourite to write?

I don’t honestly believe I had one favourite, which made the series so enjoyable to write. All the main characters gave something different, had a unique arc, and thus I was always excited to move on to the next POV. Throughout the tale the characters evolved, so in my eyes, they never got stale. Maya, for example, starts off as an innocent, easily manipulated peasant, to a badass, strong-willed heroine. Rakan evolves from evil incarnate and finds his way to the light. Kalas constantly strives to conquer his inner daemons (literally) and walks both paths of good and evil. I loved every single character regardless.

And what was the hardest part of the series to write?

Definitely trying to show the feelings of first love between the two young main protagonists and trying to make it fit into what was otherwise a very dark fantasy. I often questioned myself, whether I was writing a love story first and foremost wrapped up in a dark fantasy, or the other way around.

What is your writing desk like? (if you have one!)

It is by a window, overlooking a courtyard with two beautiful weeping willow trees. Sadly, for my son, it takes up some of his bedroom. He has to put up with me tapping away and has to find another room to relax in sometimes.

Do you have a writing routine? How do you plan and structure your books?

I wish my life was so structured that I had a routine, yet my sporting life is all over the place. So, I fit in my writing wherever I can, and I don’t plan, I write as it comes. If any planning takes place, it is in the quiet times. The shower or driving to pick up my son are great times for creative introspection.

Have COVID and lockdowns changed your writing goals? I know that COVID inspired your writing career so I’d love to hear about that — it’s great to hear some positives to come out of the pandemic!

As you know, lockdown allowed me to take a father-son project, and turn it into something far far bigger than it initially set out to be. I had all this time to write not just one book, but a trilogy, and I didn’t want to stop. It was when the lockdowns finished, that my writing was affected negatively, as sadly earning a living impacts so much on my writing. Then, I suffered a blood clot from my first vaccination that hospitalised me, then, the last two weeks have seen me infected with COVID. All in all, it’s had quite an effect, both positive and negative.

Why did you decide to go self-published? What was the process like?

To start it was always going to be self-published for I hadn’t intended to write for a wider audience than my family. Oh, how that has changed, especially as my trilogy was so warmly received by the bookish community! Yet I wasn’t prepared for the biggest learning curve ever that I had to go through. I only wish I knew then, what I know now. I still intend to continue self-publishing, but things will be SO different for my next series.

What have people’s reactions been when you tell them that you are an author?

It is without exception, one of wonder and a little sprinkling of envy. I think everyone has a book in them or a story to be told, yet not everyone has the time, resources, or whatever, to make that dream come true. What’s lovely is that almost everyone I tell buys my books, and then I get all that lovely positive feedback about the story all over again.

What is your favourite thing about being an author? What have been your favourite or most proud moments?

I love being creative, and sometimes my full time job doesn’t give me that opportunity. Being a writer of fantasy allows me scope to live my wildest dreams, and then share them with the readers who discover my stories. It is lovely to think I’ve brought enjoyment to people’s lives just as I experienced when reading other authors books. As for my proudest moments… well, I think being compared to David Gemmell stands out, but also simple things like my son being thrilled to tell his friends his Dad writes fantasy also makes me proud.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? (Either about writing or just life in general!)

It has to be about reviews. Try to just shrug off the negative and don’t take things personally. I think for a new author whose first works are like a newborn baby, it is very hard. What people like or dislike is subjective and personal, and if someone doesn’t like it, then fine.

Who are some of your favourite authors and bloggers?

Oh my. Ole Dan Fitzgerald is a fine soul as another indie author. He is very present on social media and very engaging. Patrick Samphire is another outstanding champ.

As for bloggers, there are so many who have a place close to my heart. Honestly, if I started to write one, I’d have to have a list of at least 20. Maybe it is easier to simply say, everyone who joined Justine’s Whispers and Wonder book tour of Kings and Daemons was amazing.

Can you share one of your favourite quotes from one of your books?

I quite liked some of the pre battle speeches in Tristan’s Folly, but a quote…ok.
I never said I could beat you, I said I could kill you, and they’re two entirely different things.

And finally, do you have further books planned – is there anything you can tell me about those?

I am 95% finished on the first book of my new trilogy. I decided to challenge myself and write in the first person, and in some ways I regret it, the transition was SO hard. Yet now I’m very happy I persevered and didn’t give up. It is once again a dark fantasy, bordering on grimdark. A tale of an assassin… yes it sounds familiar…. but I can assure you, this is very different and the story evolves in a way you really won’t see coming. It will have elements of High Fantasy that wasn’t really present in The Gifted and The Cursed. As you can see, I’m being somewhat vague… I haven’t even decided on a title for the trilogy yet, let alone the first book.

About the author, Marcus Lee

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creative juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

You can learn more about Marcus on his website, or follow him on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads to keep up with his latest news and releases. The Gifted and the Cursed trilogy is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited (this is an affiliate link).

 

The Amazon links used here are affiliate links — I will receive a small commission from Amazon for any purchases you make. Thank you for supporting my website!