Interview with Author Brendan Le Grange
A marine archaeologist
standing up for herself. A psychopath with mother issues. A hitman who hates failure. A soldier with a
point to prove. And a treasure that tests every allegiance.
Brett Rivera has spent three years searching for the
. The day she finds it is the day her life changes: there is
no sign of its legendary treasure and now a cold-blooded killer is hunting her.
What does he know that she doesn’t?
Brett is chased in Finland,
double-crossed in Tallinn, abducted in Lübeck, and shot at in Bremen as this
action-packed thriller dashes across northern Europe, barely pausing for breath.
A shipwreck. A lost
treasure. A hell of a
race from one to the other.
First off, I want to thank Branden for speaking with us today.
us a little bit about yourself and your motivation to become an author.
the last six or seven years I’ve been travelling a lot, for work and pleasure,
first primarily in Europe and more recently primarily in Asia. This got me into
writing in two ways: the pull of wanting to read a good book while stuck in
airports and the push of stories I though could come out of some of those
really where it started, or at least where it moved from writing work-related
articles to trying to write fiction.
2) Where did you get the inspiration for your debut novel, Drachen?
often joke that it was inspired by the carving of three dragons and the stained-glass
window that book-end most of Drachen’s
living in Denmark I used to love visiting the Hanseatic towns of Northern
Europe. I knew I wanted to pull some of that charm and history into my first
book, but it was when I linked those two unusual dragon motifs that I got a
tighter theme and geography. And I knew it had to be fun and fast-paced because
I’d just finished my MBA and had had my fill of serious non-fiction. I decided
I needed to write the sort of book you could read in an airport or on a flight,
while not necessarily operation at your highest intellectual capacity!
those boundaries established, I started writing and largely followed where the
story took me, finally zooming in on the parts of longer story I really wanted
earliest drafts included Brett’s discovery of Drachen, her ill-fated dive on the wreck, and her escape from the
armed gang that hijacked her boat – all scenes now on ‘the cutting room floor’
so that the reader hits the ground running.
3) How did your experiences in traveling through 40 different countries help
you with writing the book?
would have done it anyway, but it certainly plays a big role for my writing.
Personally it is a great way to capture some memories and to keep random walks
through new towns interesting. And for the story it adds a degree of realism
that you can’t get from Google. I actually don’t write all that much about the
towns in Drachen but still many
people comment on how nicely the locations play out – I think this is because
if you’ve visited a place and enjoyed it yourself, you’re better able to write
its essence not just its exterior.
have visited every location in Drachen,
the follow-up is set in the mountains above my new home, and the longer term
plans for the series include visits to the Philippines where I spend about 30%
of my time at the moment and India where I honeymooned so I hope the trend
4) Drachen fits in the historical-fiction/thriller genre. Is this a genre you
are interested in exploring further with future books, or are
there other genres that interest you as well?
the longer term I would like to write something more artistic, and if I let
myself dream up some talents I don’t yet have it’d be a whimsical fable inspired
by The Little Prince, but…
the moment I’ll be writing in the genre I think of as ‘adventure thriller’:
part action and adventure/ part thriller. The history side of things is
important for this as it allows me to lean more towards the ‘fun’ adventure side
of the thriller genre.
I hinted above, I have a few more books in the series planned but I also have a
new character I’m waiting to let loose in a slightly more quirky world.
5) Was there a character in the book that you could identify with or that you
particularly enjoyed writing in this book?
let myself have the most fun with Patrick I think, but all of them were fun to
write as I modeled them all on good friends: I worked with Brett for many
years, Matthys and I moved to Denmark at the same time, Roman is a mix of two
of my good friends, and Sam and his family arrived in Hong Kong the exact same
day we did.
same was true of Patrick but he had a head-start, being a real-life spy and
all… Okay, maybe he isn’t. He claims to be a mild mannered architect but after
a few drinks you’ll soon be undecided as stories from his travels to some of
the world’s wildest places emerge!
6) Drachen focuses a lot on a revised history around the Hanseatic League. Is
there another historical period, event or place that you would
be interested in rewriting or molding into a new story?
are so many options, really, but the Middle Ages are nicely placed not so far
removed that there is no trace of them today, not so recent that we have complete
histories: Drachen’s follow up will
be built around a local legend of the demise (or not) of the Song Dynasty which
happened at a similar time, and a number of great Philippine legends come from
I get around to starting the next series, though, it’ll examine some more
modern mysteries: there are some great conspiracy theories and legendary beasts
I’d love to write about.
7) For any aspiring authors out there, what would you say is the best piece of
advice you can give them?
things stand out in my mind: start writing and join a critique group.
is really important to just start writing. I know I started by trying to read
books on writing but honestly, if you haven’t made the mistakes or run into the
hurdles it is hard to conceptualize them. So start. It doesn’t have to be any
good, but it gives you examples to work from. I scrapped many more versions of Drachen than I kept but ultimately it evolved
from the original unrecognizable attempt.
then share that writing with a critique group. I got lucky here, and have been privileged
to work with some great and experienced authors but even as a newbie I was able
to add value to their work too, so don’t be shy. I read a lot of self-published
books (the second half of last year I read them exclusively, and this year I’ve
been reading only my Twitter followers) and I can see the ones who haven’t had
enough eyes pass over them. Obviously a good editor can help, but if you’ve had
a few opinions throughout the process you’ll be better off, and that same
editor will be able to really make the finished product great.
8) When writing this book, which did you enjoy more: writing the plot out or
creating the characters and their backstories?
I based my characters on a number of my friends, I had great fun dropping them
into unexpected situations – often having a chuckle to myself about what they’d
gone and done.
it’s no secret that at its core, Drachen
is a plot driven thriller. I think one of my strengths is the way I manage the
flow of ideas, smoothly leading readers from one point to the next, sometimes to
make the actions race, sometimes to lead them astray; and I really enjoy
playing around with that aspect of plotting.
I also enjoy about plotting is how it can grow organically. You can set-up a
scene, but once you start writing the characters can create unexpected dead
ends and unique solutions to them.
9) What authors or works of fiction helped inspire you and your writing career?
write in the genre dominated by Clive Cussler, and his books revived my
interest in action/ adventure as an adult, though I try to bring a snappier
style to bear so if I can channel some Lee Child then I’d be delighted.
writing starts with reading. I read a lot when I was younger but then stopped
for several years. I got back into it when I moved to Johannesburg for my first
job: in the days before Netflix and social media, books helped pass the time in
those early ‘settling in’ days. I remember getting caught up in a few South
African legends, JM Coetzee and Bryce Courtenay, mixed with whatever was lying
around or lent – in fact I was laughing about this with my friend the other
day, he gave me Matthew Reilly’s The
Contest on my very first day there.
10) Any upcoming plans or novels in the works right now?
I am a working on the follow-up to Drachen – set in the green hills above rural
Hong Kong, yes those exist, it follows Matthys Rossouw as he gets an unexpected
chance to pick-up Hiko’s trail.
don’t want to give too much away, but the underlying legend is inspired by the
legend of how my local village once hosted the de facto heirs to the Song
Dynasty throne. I wondered what might happen if those princes hadn’t exactly
left, and what the Chinese government might do if they found out.
Thank you to Brendan for taking the time to speak with us today, and I hope you all will pick up your copies of his book, Drachen, out now!
You can find Brendan Le Grange at his sites listed below: