7 Questions With Author Liam Cadoc
Liam Cadoc endeavors to create a feasible balance of historical fact and fiction into his writing in order to meet his obligation, as an author, to his readers. To that end he spends a large part of his conceptual writing on researching the world in which the characters will inhabit. “I’ve always had a fascination with history, particularly the medieval period of England.
Though my genre is historical fiction, I hope that my readers will come away with a better understanding and appreciation for how people survived and endured before the inception of the basic luxuries we take for granted each day.” He penned his first fiction while in high school and was quickly recognized by the English and History staff, and his class, for his vibrant imagination. He was also a talented artist and, after graduating, followed a career as a graphic designer in the publishing industry compelling him to put aside writing for a number of years.
In 1998, he met his wife-to-be on the Internet when online dating was in its infancy. After 18 months of long-distance romancing, they wed in Sydney, Australia and he returned to America with his new wife to begin a whole new life together. Now retired, Liam Cadoc has the time to return to his beloved writing and has spent 9 years working on The Archer’s Diary, his first historical fiction novel. He enjoys bare-bow target archery, reading, writing, kayaking, movies, traveling, and doing commissioned portraits of animals and people. He currently lives in central Florida with his wife.
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What’s your own definition of an author / indie author?
First of all, thanks for not asking my definition of the difference between a writer and an author. I’ve encountered a few fellow writers/authors who continue to debate the issue but, by and large, these days it is generally accepted that the words “writer” and “author” are synonymous. I have been writing for only ten years, and still regard myself as a “newbie,” especially if I compare the number of books I’ve had published over that time compared to fellow authors.
My initial impression of an author is one from times long gone when the term meant something different entirely. Authors were generally regarded as a roguish bunch, always traveling, quite often mildly to heavy drinkers, and daydreamers. But our libraries hold examples of those who had the profound ability to reflect on their times and pen archetypal classics that defined various literary genres, and still capture readers’ attention decades and centuries later.
I have no illusion of ever rising to those illustrious heights; merely content to pen my own stories to share with those who find them of interest. As an artist, as well, imagination has never been a failure of mine—and as an author I have never had to contend with writer’s block. I suspect, for the vast majority of authors, it is more a case of the need to write about whatever captures our own interest and not so much making a living from it.
What’s your definition of the first draft?
From chatting and comparing notes with others, I have concluded that authors find a method of writing that suits them best. Early into my second book I decided to enroll in an online Master Class hosted by James Patterson. Here is a guy who writes one of my favorite genres; surely something might rub off under his tutelage. The course was nothing short of excellent, and taught me one fundamental fact—that my approach to writing is very different to James Patterson.
The first draft, for me, is totally in my mind. The rough storyline is pretty clear, as are the main characters. I don’t even begin the process of writing until I feel all those points are sitting right. I approach my paintings in the same fashion—visualize the finished piece before putting pencil to paper (see attached “Sanctuary” painting). Then, I forego doing a rough, and head straight into artwork. Same with my writing.
With the storyline ‘in mind,’ I begin writing and don’t stop until The End appears on paper. At points along the way an accumulation of Post-it Notes blossoms around my computer, and the story may undergo minor alterations, but I keep close to the initial concept. That, to me, is my first draft. I guess that tags me as a panster. What follows is as many rereads and rewrites it takes till I’m pleased with the ‘end result.’ Then I run the manuscript through an intensive vetting by Autocrit before I hand it off to my editor.
We all know this industry is full of surprises. Can you share an unexpected experience?
Surprises in this business come mainly from the characters in my stories. One of the lessons in James Patterson’s Master Class was devoted to the question ‘do writers control their story, or do they allow their characters do it?’ Speaking only for myself, the answer is a little of both. The journey starts out like a group of hikers setting out on an adventure—myself in the lead; the others following.
Occasionally, one or two may stray from the path but I reel them back in line. In one of my books, I can’t recall the title at the moment; I guess we were well along the path when I sensed something had changed. I was no longer the group’s leader. Each of the characters was taking turns at the job while I tagged along. If one of them chose to dart off in a different direction, he or she was allowed to do so with the understanding the person would rejoin us somewhere down the path.
At one stage I huddled down with the others and struck a compromise; the group would allow me to revert to leader so long as I permitted each character a longer leash. We struck off again along the story path content that all was right once more in our world. Looking back with perfect hindsight, I was three quarters into my writing when I stumbled into the living room bleary eyed from a day at the keyboard.
I’ve announced to my wife with a great deal of amazement “There’s been a murder. One of my characters has been killed.” She looked up, somewhat perplexed. “Why are you surprised? You’re the writer, after all.” I nodded. “Yeah, I know that. But the other characters didn’t warn me so-and-so was plotting something.”
What are some major setbacks of this profession?
To begin with, for me, this is not so much a profession but a retirement fulfillment. Admittedly, I began writing earnestly a few years prior to retiring, but I now have the time to devote to something that’s been sitting low on my bucket list for decades. Now that I am “into it,” I have discovered an unanticipated major hurdle; one aspect of a writer’s life I have read about in only a couple of blogs by fellow authors—the issue of balancing writing with home life.
I am quite content to withdraw to my space and work on my material virtually from dawn to dusk (and on occasion, into the night). Prior to retiring, when writing was merely an intermittent event, my wife and I spent nearly every weekend kayaking, gardening, etc. Even my working on commissioned animal and people portraits dovetailed into our lifestyle nicely. But now, everything is different.
We live in a golf cart community with oodles of activities and groups available to everyone so, when I began concentrating more and more on my writing and artwork, we both thought there would be more than enough interests to occupy my wife’s active personality—and there were, at the start. But I became aware that I was relying on these outside distractions to provide me with a peaceful writing environment, until the day my wife made it obvious there was a rift developing in our lifestyle.
It was a surprise to me when she first mentioned the issue. It took some time for the seriousness to sink in, and for a while, I quite often resented my writing being interrupted by her insistence we go for a drive, take a walk, see a movie, etc. But I finally came to the realization that our life together is more important than anything else I might want to work on.
Now I don’t hesitate to step away from the keyboard, or drawing board, if she suggests I could need a break. Some of you might not look on this as a setback, as such, but for the likes of me who can get lost for hours in my work, it fits the definition—or used to.
What would you do if you wouldn’t be writing?
An easy question for me. Painting. I’ve mentioned previously that I do portraits and, before I decided to try my hand at writing, it was my second job—my first being a graphic designer in the publishing industry. So, for arguments sake, if I weren’t writing at all, and being retired, I would be devoting pretty much the same time to artwork—either commissioned, or my own.
But I (and my wife) would be taking more road trips, and hiking, as we both like to travel; see new places and meet new people. Kayaking and bare bow target archery are other interests we both enjoy, as is trying new pubs, wineries, and restaurants. We are also keen moviegoers.
What should readers expect from your next novel?
Though I’ve been marketing The Archer’s Diary – Book One as an historical fiction novel, in truth, it is more of a hybrid or crossover of that genre. Book One infers there is, at least, a Book Two and indeed there is—or will be. When I began writing this story, it was a contemporary action adventure mystery in part, with continual historical flashbacks.
As the actual creator of this tale, when even I became confused with the constant back and forth, it became obvious there were two stories being told. After the first draft was done with, and before I began on the second, I decided to separate the stories and make The Archer’s Diary a 2-book historical crossover set. I hope by this stage most reading this will have a grasp of Book One’s synopsis:
“Logan Daggett has irrefutable proof the legendary Robin Hood is real. A 900 year-old heirloom holds the answers to all the questions ever asked about Robin Hood – even his origin and real name. But others want the heirloom for themselves and are willing to kill for it before Daggett can release his news to the world.”
For the next novel—Book Two—the stage is set for the revealing of the diary’s actual content. Readers will be privy to the true character of the Welsh prince, Cochgam ap Cadwgon, one of the diary’s authors. His empathy for his people trying to survive under sword of the Normans of 12th century’s England, and his determination to stem the tide of his nation’s invaders. I give readers insight into the life of those times, and though it might be somewhat limited being from the perspective of a handful of characters, my hope is that for some they will appreciate the life their ancestors of olde might have endured for their lineage to survive.
Just how much research is there behind a novel? Tell us how it looks behind the scenes.
I can only speak for myself as far as research was concerned for my new novel. Promotion for The Archer’s Diary says it took nine years to write, and of those nine years, six to seven were spent researching. One of my favorite genres to read is historical fiction because the authors I like to follow make it obvious they have done a great deal of research to lend a certain authenticity their books. History has always interested me, so when the decision was made to tackle historical fiction I actually looked forward to the research aspect of the project.
I took another look into the books of my favorite authors of the genre and then went hunting for material to verify their descriptions of the times. To be honest, apart from purchasing a couple of history books, I used the Internet for researching. Book One has locations ranging from outback Australia to London, England, and the Marches of Wales. Being Australian and quite familiar with the outback, I chose the country town of Mudgee as the home for two of the main characters. It was also the town in which my late father grew up. The locations in and around London required assistance from Google Earth, TripAdvisor, and online tourist information.
The settings in and around Hay-on-Wye, sitting astride the border between England and Wales required details that necessitated I reach out to some of the town’s locals for assistance. I joined online forums devoted to caving in order to pose questions to their members, and had the good fortune of a particularly interested tourist information worker who tracked down the actual owner of a specific piece of acreage so that I could include that detail into the factual part of my story.
Readers will also note my penchant for providing details pertaining to particular coffee shops, restaurants, etc. All these were gleaned from business websites, even down to menu items. I was overly impressed by the willingness by departmental heads of the London Museum, and other institutions to assist me with my research. It is my hope that I may have the opportunity to take a trip to England, with my wife, with the sole intention of visiting the locations from my book and hopefully to personally thank those who helped with my research.
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