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Monday, June 11, 2018

Author Interview - Lindsey Duncan

Please welcome Lindsey Duncan to The Far Edge of Normal!

LINDSEY DUNCAN is a chef / pastry chef, professional Celtic harp performer and life-long writer, with short fiction and poetry in numerous speculative fiction publications.  Her contemporary fantasy novel, Flow, is available from Double Dragon Publishing, and her science fiction novel, Scylla and Charybdis, is now out from Grimbold Books.  She feels that music and language are inextricably linked.  She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and can be found on the web at

Other places you can connect with me:
(I don’t use my official FB page too much, so you’re also welcome to check out my personal page …)
@LindseyCDuncan on Twitter

Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?
I write speculative fiction – an umbrella term for fantasy and science fiction – with a focus on secondary world fantasy … that is, fantasy set in a world not our own.  It’s what you will mostly see if you read my short fiction.  That said, my currently published novels don’t follow that pattern.  Flow is contemporary fantasy (  Scylla and Charybdis, which was just released last month, is science fiction (

I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite among my short stories, but one I’ve always had great fondness for, “Bird Out Of Water,” can be found in the Trespass anthology (  The story was inspired by the saying, “A bird and a fish may fall in love, but where would they live?” and features the unlikely daughter of a merman and a harpy.

No new projects to crow about:  Scylla and Charybdis is my big news for the year (so far).

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
As mentioned above, I am also a professional harp player and a chef.  I play the traditional lever harp - more familiarly known as the Celtic harp, though the instrument has a much broader range than the Celtic lands.  Regardless, it is distinct from the pedal harp played in orchestras, primarily due to the mechanism for achieving sharps, flats and key signatures … and with a history going back to the seventh century A.D. (that we know for sure), it’s much older.

I have both Scottish (including Scots-Irish) and Welsh ancestry, so Celtic music is in my blood.  My given name is two Scottish clan names … and as I found out years ago, Clan Lindsay and Clan Duncan have been feuding for centuries over a pig.  This explains so much about me.

In any event, I also play Renaissance music and some pieces even older, more contemporary tunes with a focus on musicals / show tunes (I adore Andrew Lloyd Webber), a bit of classical, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

As to the chef part, I work both as a pastry chef and on the savory side.  I work in catering, which has a different flow and style than the restaurant industry.  The company I’m currently working for does custom catering, which means that some events are designed from scratch, as well as personal chef services, which means that every week holds something new.  For someone like me (can you guess by all the “ands” in the previous sentences?), that’s a wonderful thing.

With all that, I need some downtime!  I enjoy reading, playing computer games – strategy “worldbuilding” games like Civilization are a favorite – and, regrettably, zoning out in front of television shows.  Right now, I’m addicted to Timeless, which does a nice job of making its approach to time travel *feel* accurate and touches upon some SF concepts like plastic time (the idea that history is intended to happen a certain way, and that some changes will self-correct; another hero steps up, the shooting happens in another city, etc).  The character interactions and humor are wonderful.  The team grew a lot in the first season, and it’s great to watch their dynamic continue to evolve.

"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?
Well, I have to take exception to that, not because I object to the concept of cats, but because I’m violently allergic.  No way I can have cats in my house!  I am, however, a devoted dog-mom to two Bichon Frises, Lexi (“protector” in Greek) and Peri (“nymph,” also Greek).  It’s nearly impossible to get a photo of the two of them together, because Peri is a queen of photobomb.  She runs up to the phone, and all I end up with is a fuzzy white blur.  That said, here’s a few shots.

What writers inspired you to become an author?
I’ve been writing for so long that I don’t clearly remember getting the inspiration from a specific author.  I just always wanted to, and as a child, I simply assumed I could.  (The reality has been a lot more complicated!)  I do remember the books that opened my eyes to fantasy, though:  Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles.  Those books not only plunged me into the realms of fantasy, they started a fascination with Welsh mythology before I really knew I had those roots, and introduced me to a strong, smart-mouthed female character in the form of Eilonwy.

If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit?
I can just hear the eyerolling from here, but I honestly would love to visit the late Renaissance era – specifically what is referred to in England as the Elizabethan era.  Cliché response for a secondary world fantasy writer, I suppose, where so much of the genre is based on a dubious mash-up of the Renaissance and early Middle Ages feudalism, but I have a long connection with the time period.  I performed for years in a Renaissance song and dance troupe; we started at the local Renaissance Festival and then expanded to educational programs for schools.  Each member had an authentic (mostly!) character to go along with full costume, so in some small way, I’ve become a part of that time.

This particular part of the Renaissance is also at the tail end of the European witch craze and the Black Death.  (Of course I want to avoid those!)  The latter brought about a labor shortage that in part sparked the Industrial Revolution.  It’s the beginning of a time of invention.  Which, as a fantasy writer, is exactly where I want to be:  I enjoy the occasional sprinkling of nifty gadgets, but mechanization and automation turn me off.  Even in Scylla and Charybdis, the focus is definitely on the human elements, social consequences, and the less conventional aspects of technology.

Of course, I also know enough not to romanticize the time period:  it would be great to visit and experience the world I’ve read so much about, but I wouldn’t want to live there.  For one thing, bodices are laced ridiculously tight, though hoop skirts are surprisingly comfortable outdoors when a cool breeze sweeps by …

What color would you wear if you had only one choice?
 Purple.  Purple, purple, and more purple.  You don’t know how it happy it makes me that purple (okay, ultra violet) is the color of the year.  In fact, when my publisher and I decided on an abstract cover for Scylla and Charybdis, one of my few parameters was (if possible) that it be purple.  And the artist delivered.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Good luck with your writing!

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