BLIMEY! It’s something all pirates are taught when they’re very young, but too many forget: never get on the wrong side of a librarian. Especially if the librarian is a lemming! The bookish Sylvester Lemmington simply wants to hunt down the facts. Everyone else just seem more interested in hunting down Sylvester. Especially so, after he becomes the accidental owner of the most sought-after treasure map of all time. Now, Sylvester must deal with the humdrum of pirate life – voodoo magic, cannibals, lethal carnivores, mutinies, and magical treasures.
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author John Dahlgren whose book The Tides of Avarice thrilled me from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love fantasy, but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight for John Dahlgren, a biography of the author and an interview between us both will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful John Dahlgren!
John Dahlgren is a Psychologist and an award-winning author.
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, he grew up close to the vast and untamed nature of Scandinavia and became influenced at an early age by the Nordic sagas, fairytales and mythologies. This environment triggered his imagination and inspired him, to later become a fiction/fantasy writer. He has studied creative and fiction writing at Oxford University where he earned high praise for Apart from being mainly a satire writer, he’s mostly known for his fantasy series set in the magical world of Sagaria.
Besides his research work; he is now engaged in several book projects, for both younger readers and adults. He’s also a script writer and composer.
Now, how wonderful does John Dahlgren sound?! The author is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between us both, I hope that you enjoy the author’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself
Thank you for having me here. It’s a great pleasure. Well, I’m a Psychologist by trade and I also love writing. I grew up in Sweden with its wild and untamed landscape and was at an early age intrigued by the Nordic folklores, sagas and mythologies. I usually participated in every short story contest arranged by my school and I simply found the written word fascinating. What you could create with your imagination. I realized that I had to hone the craft of creative and fiction writing which I did at Oxford and in the US. After studying that for three years I decided to write my first novel.
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
I think for this book, The Tides of Avarice, I was influenced by reading and hearing about how greed rules the earth. The greed for power and money. I’m not talking about what we need to have a comfortable lifestyle but beyond that: when everything is never enough. I think that was the main spark to write this novel and also, the question: are we living in a lemming society? (metaphorically speaking). Where we blindly follow what our leaders are telling us or what the media says? Or do we sometimes stop and think for ourselves? It’s an entirely anthropomorphic story set in the fantasy realm of Sagaria. It’s set in the 17th century as it is usually that time period we generally associate pirates with. I called it “A Sagaria Legend” since there will be more books set in the same fantasy world.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
To always be persistent. Develop a high self-esteem and believe in yourself and work and sharpen the craft of writing in any way you can. If there’s something you really love to do, you’ll always find the time. Keep at it and become better and better and read more (especially books in which your genre fits and see how the successful authors write). Then apply your own unique voice and keep on writing. Ask friends and family what they think and if there’s a negative comment make sure it’s constructive and will propel you forwards. Remember: even Tolkien and many other great writers have been rejected by publishers, so don’t let that put you off. Lastly, you must care about your characters and their fate, if you don’t, then the readers most likely will not either.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
To make the readers feel as though they a part of the story and to entertain. With words you can depict images, smells, feelings and memorable dialogues. If it plays out like a movie in your mind than you can be sure you’re on the right track. However, the characters must be believable. If the heroes/heroines have flaws and the villains some redeeming features, it makes them so much more interesting to read about and connect to. I’ve tried to make each character as three-dimensional as possible (getting into their heads which is probably what a psychologist simply cannot resist). I’m a big fan of P.G. Wodehouse, Terry Pratchett and other satiric writers. I always strive to include humor that emerges organically from the characters themselves and in a way one can reflect upon our own world through the actions of the fictional characters.
What is your writing process like?
First, I must have a title (for me it’s the foundation and everything should be connected in one way or another to the name of the book). Then, I set up a very rough draft with a beginning, middle and end. Then I go into more detail about each step and then again and again until it shapes into what you’ve seen in your mind’s eye. Rather like a painting really. First it looks like nothing, then you add more and more details and after a while the image emerge. I usually listen to movie soundtracks while writing as I want the book to read like a major motion picture in the readers mind and the music helps with that. My main goal is to entertain and to tell a story. I love to tell stories and never try to teach in any way. If a reader finds that it provides an attractive reading, I’m very happy. If it somehow resonates at some deeper level with them, then I’m also glad that it did. It’s up to the reader to decide whether it has a moral meaning or entertaining value. I just love story telling.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
For this book I spent a lot of time at the natural history museum and compared stuffed animals like foxes and lemmings, badgers, mice, ocelots etc.in order to see their correct size and learn about their traits and habits. But as it is a fantasy story, I’ve not been one hundred percent accurate. I also had to delve into marine topics and went to Stockholm to study a very well-preserved ship from the 17th century. So, there was a fair amount of research. Of course, you can scoop many things out from the internet, which I also did but some things you must see and touch for yourself. I’ve also tried to re-introduce the Victorian fairy tale writing style slightly but in a 21st century way. I think it was suitable to do so. Victorian novels tend to be idealized portraits of difficult lives in which hard work, perseverance, love and luck win out in the end, virtue would be rewarded and evil-doers are suitably punished. When you live in a world where criminals and corrupted politicians get away with anything and even get rewarded and people of good will and decency gets no recognition or are even punished when they speak out, I thought it was suitable to show that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
When I start a new book project, I set aside a fair amount of time (beforehand) and try to write at least five pages per time. If I’m lucky it can reach up to ten pages per writing session. Inspiration can be very sneaky, so I always have a piece of paper and a pen nearby at any given moment. Because ideas can pop up in the most unlikely of places. Almost always when you don’t think at all (when you’re still or calm) or are occupied with something completely different.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
Well, I’ve always loved anthropomorphic stories e.g. Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. Another book that was my favorite as a child was Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I would say most fantasy books e.g. Tolkien, Narnia, The Never-ending Story, Alice in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows among many others may have influenced this particular story. I also read Terry Pratchett and P.G. Wodehouse over and over (I really don’t know why). The main villain of The Tides of Avarice was inspired by the book The Sea Wolf by Jack London and Long John Silver from Treasure Island. He’s a very complex character and as a psychologist, I simply couldn’t resist to probe into his mind. All in all, I love books written with wit, humor mixed with satire and depth.
Many reviewers have said that this is a book they would want to watch on screen. Did you have a movie in mind while writing the book?
Yes, I actually wrote it as a movie would play out in the reader’s mind I studies screen writing a few years back and I found it immensely interesting just as creative writing. That’s why I visited places that would inspire me plus listening to movie soundtracks that suited a particular scene and really tried to make it come alive in the reader’s mind. So, I have to answer yes, I had that in mind. Either as an animated series or movie. Now, as some readers pointed out, this is an anthropomorphic story for YA and adults. It’s a bit unusual territory to enter but I find it immensely rewarding as we can see our own world reflected through the eyes of a sort of parallel world where animals and humans are equally important and have the same level of thoughts and reasoning abilities. Of course, there are satirical moments that are hard to avoid but that makes it just more interesting and I hope humorous as well.
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
As per readers’ requests and others, a second and third part of The Tides of Avarice are in the making. And yes, with a spoiler alert: the original main villain will be in them.
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with John Dahlgren! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more about John Dahlgren, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,