Today, we have another special guest dropping by BubbleLife: Joan K. Lacy, the author of the Alex Cort Adventure series. Her book follows a daredevil adventurer as he embarks on Indiana-Jones-like journeys with a magical twist. In A Shadow Away, her new novel, an archeologist discovers a jewel-encrusted golden statue that might be the key to the lost city of El Dorado. He teams up with the private detective Cort, and together, they set off on a dangerous trek to find the ruins of an ancient city.
Lacy was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the Alex Cort Adventure series and her writing. Keep reading to find out what inspired her stories and why she loves to write classic adventure novels.
Where did you find your inspiration for this magical, historical series?
I wanted to write stories about legends that always fascinated me, so I based A Shadow Away, the first book of the "Alex Cort Adventures" series, on the lost city of El Dorado. The second story, All Under Heaven, is all about legendary dragons, magicians, and superstitions. They are a lot of fun to imagine and write about. I have always been interested in travel and foreign languages. I am intrigued by myths and legends from all over the world, and I love a good adventure story. I put them all together and write about that.
Do you have to conduct research before writing about different cultures and countries? If so, how do you do that?
I enjoy research, so I do a lot of that after I am inspired by the location of a new story. I visit my local library for the wealth of information there, and I also research points of information online. Research is fun when I'm learning about a topic that interests me. I just keep everything I think might have some bearing on my story. I might not use it all, but I find enough useful information that can add depth to the story I want to tell. Besides research, I use my imagination and personal experience.
Tell us a little bit about Alex Cort and what important traits his character possesses.
Alex is an adventurer who doesn't mind danger and has a curiosity about this world. He is successful at art theft recovery and enjoys the sophistication of big cities and the art world—and the crime, corruption, and the chase that goes with it. His favorite jobs are expeditions with archaeologist Andrew Seaton searching for lost or stolen artifacts. Alex doesn't believe in magic, but he's still attracted to a young woman named Angel who calls herself a witch.
I love my other characters who appear in each story, too. Archaeologist Andrew Seaton allows me to share all I studied and learned about archaeology over the years. His approach is scientific, but he loves legends and superstitions, so he adjusts to magic pretty easily when Angel teaches the two her kind of magic. She allows me to share all I learned from the study of science and metaphysics. The three make a good combination for the stories I want to tell.
Why did you steer towards such a classic adventure series instead of something more common in popular culture?
I want to take readers on an adventure. I draw pictures with words to draw them in and lose themselves in another, magical world. I wanted to write adventure stories with positive adult role models for the younger readers who enjoy a good adventure, too. I wanted to offer positive, entertaining stories for everyone who'd like to learn something interesting about this world, its people, and their myths and legends.
What tips would you give to other aspiring novelists who don't know where to begin?
Begin by writing what you know, because you'll have a deeper understanding and appreciation for that subject than if you picked something to write about because you think it might sell. Also, write about a topic that interests you, because it will likely be interesting to others, as well. Then, learn all you can about the story you want to tell.
Create a storyboard for the outline of your plot. There are four basic parts to every novel, and each has a purpose. The first part introduces your story idea and makes the rest of your story meaningful. The second part places in jeopardy the characters your readers have come to care about. The third part increases the level a drama, and the fourth part deals with the resolution of the hero/heroine's conflicts, the payoff for everything he or she had to endure, and a satisfying ending. There are many "How To" books by published authors who are willing to show you how to structure your story from introduction to denouement, focus on the plot and setting, decide on the characters who will best tell your story, and how to introduce the conflict(s) facing your hero. Will the main character narrate? Whose point of view is important to your story? These and other questions can be found at reputable websites. Don't be afraid to explore! There is a lot of useful information available. Choose what works best for you. There are rules about how a story should be told, and it's best to learn the rules before you decide to break them!
When you feel prepared - just start! Don't worry about being perfect, just get your thoughts down at the beginning. As you get into your story, you may think of better ideas, or another way to approach a situation. It's always easier to correct some idea with a better thought than to wait for the perfect inspiration which may never come.
I hope these tips help you to get started. Writing is an exciting journey, and I hope it brings you joy. I wish you the best of luck!