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Meet Daniel McCormack

Every Friday, we meet a member of the BFS and peer deep into their soul (or, at least, a form they filled out). Want to be featured? Email us: online@britishfantasysociety.org

Name, including preferred pronouns
Daniel McCormack (He/Him)

Which region are you based in?
The South West – Cornwall

Genre you write 
Fantasy

Are you drawn to any specific sub-genres?
High/Epic Fantasy – expansive worlds, richly depicted cultures and epic adventures are my jam! I have an abiding love of all things Wheel of Time, Middle Earth and Earthsea. 

Your influences

Tell us about the book/film/thing that got you into SFFH: What was it? How old were you? What impact did it have on you?

It is hard for me to remember a time when fantasy fiction wasn’t part of my life – my parents were massive Lord of the Rings fans and avid readers, so that was kind of like the religion I was raised into. That being said, the first fantasy series that really gripped me was the Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson. I picked this up when I was maybe 12 or 13. Not only did it sweep me away on an amazing adventure, but it also spoke to me about all the things a young teenage boy needs to learn; the need for courage, for compassion and the supreme value of a loving family.

How does that early influence show up in your writing now?

If you have read Nicholson’s books, you will know that the family which the plot centres around goes through some pretty awful things. For me the real beauty in their story comes from the tenacious strength of their love for one another in the face of a cold, often cruel world. This is a theme/tone that permeates the vast amount of the fantasy I write.

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

A big one for me is landscape! Being Cornish born and bred (my ancestors were a mixture of local smugglers and methodist ministers, make of that what you will), it really feels like the quiet woodlands, lonely moors and windswept coasts of the Cornish landscape are in my blood. Mix that with the more dramatic landscapes of the Balkans (where I lived for five years) and you get a pretty excellent cocktail to draw from creatively! I take immense pleasure in trying to capture just a small amount of that beauty in the things I write.

Apart from that, I love to draw inspiration from the ways different cultures and religions see one another, and also themselves in light of others – for better or for worse! The meeting and clash of different worldviews and peoples is something I find endlessly fascinating.

(Pictured below: two of the places Daniel finds creatively inspiring)

Who do you look to as a genre hero? Why?

Ursula k Le Guin. I tried for a while to find the right words to properly convey how amazing she was, not only as an author but also as a human being – needless to say it all seems to fall short. Her prose is amazing, her themes are both deep and deeply human, her worlds enchanting. Fiercely intelligent, considered and kind – I am yet to find another writer like her. Just watch her acceptance speech for the National Book Foundation’s award and you will see what I mean!

Your work

You’re stuck in an elevator for 60 seconds with that hero, and they want you to describe your work. Give us the pitch.

All the themes I care the most about in fiction are in the story I am currently writing; It is a high-fantasy epic set in the windswept isles of Teltra – a place of ancient histories and bitter political rivalries, bound together by the powerful forces of magic, myth and religion. The story follows three main characters:

Durith is an ageing member of the Ruhi Order of sages, watching powerlessly as his brotherhood descends into chaos.

Nurah is an eight year old girl who, together with her fox animal-companion named Pin, is thrust out from her beloved home, into a world that is far greater and more terrible than she ever imagined.

Farin is a young farm boy, dreaming of fame and glory but finding more than he bargained for when he becomes a new inductee of the Company of the Hunt; heroic warriors that venture into the wilds to find battle, glory and riches. 

As the world begins to crumble about all three of them, their stories will be woven into the larger tale of the whole Teltran Isles; a tale of loss, of hope and how good things survive the flames of war.

What are you working on right now?

Finishing season one of The Tales of Teltra! We release new episodes every month, each one with accompanying original artwork, music and in-world lore documents. Episode four is coming at the end of November!

Thinking about all of your stories/work you’ve done, which one sticks out most in your mind? Why?

Right now, probably episode 2 of the Tales of Teltra, the introduction to Nurah and Pin. It is the piece of writing that touches on some of the themes I relate to the most personally – the beauty of home, the pain of losing that home, and the struggle of trying to find hope for a future without it.

Where and when do you create/are you at your most creative?

In my study (affectionately named ‘the writers hole’ [pictured left])! It is a space where no phones are allowed, no distractions – only my books, my keyboard and an old tablet which is no good for anything but editing google docs.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?

Learn to love it for what it is, not just what it produces.

What’s your writing soundtrack?

12 hr brown noise podcast episode – I can’t listen to music while I write, it stops me from being able to hear the rhythm of the words!

The quickfire round

Sci-fi, fantasy or horror?

Fantasy!

Quiet or loud?

Quiet, please God, a moment of quiet (I have kids).

Dark or light?

Dark – the night time is so peaceful and a good time to reflect!

Strict lines or genre blend?

Whatever best serves the story you want to tell. For me though, so far that has been strictly high fantasy.

Awards or bestseller?

Yes please? 

Fiction or non-fiction?

Yes!

Poetry or prose?

Why are you making me choose? Prose, I guess!

Plotter or pantser?

Plan-ster? I’m not trying to be a contrarian, I promise.

Reading or listening?

Reading

Notebook or computer?

Notebook

Favourite SFFH book of all time?

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K Le Guin – lucid prose, beautifully heavy atmosphere! 

Last book you read?

The Earliest English Poems, Michael Alexander

Any SFFH author on auto-buy?

I sound like a broken record, but Le Guin!

Photo of Ursula K Le Guin, right, from the New Yorker

Favourite podcast?

It would have to be a tie between The Worldcraft Club, and The History of Literature (especially the episodes on poetry and short stories!)

The home stretch

What’s the best thing about being a SFFH writer?

The sheer scope of all the powerful imagery we get to work with – it doesn’t matter if it is real, only if you can make it feel real and use it to tell your story!

Time to plug your stuff! Where can we find you and your work? What have you got coming up? Consider this your advertising space.

Visit talesofteltra.com to find out more about the story, or you can sign up to our newsletter and get episode one free here.

Finally, you can sign up to our membership here to get new episodes every month! The first three episodes are already live!

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