Patrick LeClerc makes good use of his history degree by working as a paramedic for an ever- changing parade of ambulance companies in the Northern suburbs of Boston. When not writing he enjoys cooking, fencing and making witty, insightful remarks with career-limiting candor.
In the lulls between runs on the ambulance --and sometimes the lulls between employment at various ambulance companies-- he writes fiction.
You can find more of it at http://inkandbourbon.com/
His latest novel will be released January 18th, and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.
QM: When did you realize you wanted to write?
PL: When I realized I could get paid to make shit up.
Seriously, I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. My expense reports when I was doing reporting for QM back in the early aughts were some of my most imaginative fiction.
QM: What will your next book be out and what can you tell us about it?
PL: Well, “Broken Crossroads” is due out this month. It’s a sword and sorcery adventure in the spirit of the old pulp stories. Fritz Leiber, Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Boroughs. That kind of thing. It’s a far cry from the vast, sweeping epic megaseries like “Wheel of Time” or “A Song of Ice and Fire.” The characters are rogues. Burglars for hire. They have swashbuckling adventures, battle gangsters and slavers in dark alleys, steal jewels from the ruined temple of an ancient god, and get blackmailed by a cunning sergeant of the watch into trying to save the city, despite the fact that they are hardly model citizens. If they steal a magic amulet, it’s not to defeat a Dark Lord, it’s to fence the thing for beer money.
There’s nothing wrong with writing with a big, sweeping epic if it’s done right, but I miss the old, simple, fun fantasy shorts, and this is my homage to them.
I’m also finishing up the sequel to “Out of Nowhere.” It should be out this summer.
QM: In your previous works, "Out of Nowhere" and "In Every Clime and Place," there are military references and themes. Do you have experience?
PL: The day after I graduated high school, I got on a bus to Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island. That was probably my first questionable career choice.
I’ve also spent the last fifteen years working on the ambulance, which has a lot of similarities. Long stretches of boredom punctuated by sudden frantic action. Sleep deprivation. Gear that’s too heavy, uniforms that are too hot or too cold, maddening bureaucracy, constant bitching by the greatest group of misfits you could ever hope to work with.
QM: Why are you drawn to military fiction?
PL: I’ve always been interested in military history. And I think most of us are. The built-in conflict and group dynamic of a war story is great fodder for fiction.
Look at the action or adventure stories that have been most popular. Most are war stories, police stories, or the lone hero out for revenge or redemption, and that hero is almost always ex military or police. Combat is exciting to read about or watch. Even in anti-war war movies, the combat is exciting.
That doesn’t mean actual combat is fun or exciting. But neither are disasters or horrors and those stories are popular. A good story needs adversity. It needs conflict.
QM: You’ve written both Science Fiction and Fantasy. How is writing each different?
PL: For me, not much.
My fiction is all small scale, character focused and pretty low stakes. I don’t write hard s/f, because I get bored reading long technical descriptions. I don’t write “save the world” fantasy because I don’t see any point in trying to do a Dark Lord better than JRR Tolkien did. My characters from my s/f and my sword and sorcery and my present day urban fantasy would probably all get along if they hung out.
I think the small scale problems of survival are easier for people to relate to than the huge but abstract stakes in saving the world.
QM: Do you have a favorite character from any of your works?
I love Trilisean from “Broken Crossroads.” She’s fun to write, fun to put into situations and see what she does. I also like my supporting character with the least redeeming features, like Pete from “Out of Nowhere” or Terry O’Rourke from “In Every Clime and Place,” because they aren’t worried about offending anybody. I can just take the filter off and let them come out with the most outrageous thing I can think of.
QM: For fans who would like to meet you or get a signed copy of one of your books, where will they have the next opportunity?
PL: I hope to be at ReaderCon in Burlington this summer. If things go well and sales pick up, I will do more conventions. The more I make from writing, the less I have to work at the day job and the easier it will be to do events.
PL: Whose work do you most enjoy reading?
Robert B Parker is just a lot of fun. So is Terry Pratchett. I was a big fan of George MacDonal Fraser. His “Flashman” books are one of the most fun historical fiction series ever. I really enjoy Steven Brust and Scott Lynch.
I do enjoy finding new authors, which is one of the great things about QM. The fact that it’s short stories gives me a chance to quickly check out a bunch of new writers.
QM: Just one word of advice for aspiring authors?
Seriously, though. Write as much as you can. Read as much as you can. Develop your voice. It’s easier than ever to get a book published, but it’s harder than ever to stand out. Don’t let yourself get discouraged. If you do, you’ll quit.
And don’t do it for the money, because there isn’t much money. Do it because you have a story to tell, and tell it better than anybody else.
QM: What frightens you most about the future?
PL: Us. The capacity of the human race to ignore facts and cling to their beliefs even when all evidence contradicts them. I can see this kind of refusal to listen, the equivalent of putting our hands over our ears and shouting “La la la!” when we don’t like an uncomfortable truth, blinding plunging on despite warnings and evidence. That kind of thing can wind up leading to huge environmental catastrophe, or to another major war.
Look at history. We blundered into WWI, which was one of the greatest catastrophes in history. We blundered into the financial crisis of 2008. Now we have people who seem determined to blunder into global environmental disaster because they don’t want to see what’s pretty clearly evident.
We should be better. We have all the pieces we need to fix our problems, but I don’t know if we have the will. And it’s mostly the will to open our eyes and question the dogma, to put our beliefs to the test and start to think.
If we don’t, I really do fear for the future.
The scariest thing to me is the ability of people to lie to themselves.
Patrick LeClerc’s latest novel “Broken Crossroads” is available for pre-order at Amazon.com.