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Meet Lucy A. McLaren

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:
Lucy A. McLaren (she/her)

Which region are you based in?
North-East

If you write, which genre: 
Fantasy

Are you drawn to any specific SFFH sub-genres?
Yes, I particularly love dark fantasy. That is what I tend to write and what I am drawn to most when I read (though I do also read other sub-genres of fantasy and horror, too). 

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?

There was an alignment of three releases around the same time in my life (I think—otherwise my memory has just blurred them all together)—His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. I would have been around 11 when I consumed these stories and worlds. Though I did play video games and read fantasy books before these, they’re the ones I credit with really cementing my love of the genre and remain firm favourites today. 

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

Well, the first and most obvious one is the inclusion of animal companions in my debut series (The Commune’s Curse), which is a nod to the daemons in Pullman’s HDM trilogy. I also love the exploration of good vs evil in that story and how it is not always so clear cut—I seek to emulate that in my own storytelling. Though I wouldn’t necessarily place my stories in the Epic Fantasy genre, I do think what I took from LOTR is the large cast of characters. Awakening (The Commune’s Curse Book 1) is multi-POV. I think seeing multiple perspectives adds to, rather than takes away from, a story—it certainly added to LOTR anyway! 

(Pictured right: Lucy’s bookshelf shows off her influences)

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

Oh, so many places! I don’t think authors can avoid absorbing inspiration from anything they read, watch or play. Aside from the influences mentioned above, I adore Robin Hobb’s writing and stories and would love to have even a scrap of her skill at character-writing. Joe Abercrombie, too, is a fantastic character writer. Generally, I find inspiration strikes at random. I can be driving, in the bath, listening to music, reading and suddenly a scene idea will pop into my head. I find the creative brain fascinating. 

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

Oh, Robin Hobb for sure. Her characters are just… *chef’s kiss*. As I said, if I could have even a modicum of her skill, I’d be set. And the sheer breadth and depth of the world she has created blows me away. Hopefully one day I’ll get there. 

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.

I’m a fantasy author who writes about the light of human connection in dark, oppressive societies. The Commune’s Curse series is set in a kingdom oppressed by an authoritarian government and is about the people fighting for freedom against their oppressors, and about the blurred lines between “good” and “evil”.  

What are you working on right now?

At the end of last year, I completed by standalone dark fantasy story (working title Etherstone) which asks the question what if Jack the Ripper had been controlled by a god? It’s set in a fictional, Victorian London inspired city called Alpinside which is being haunted by a killer and is about two young women coming together from opposite ends of the social spectrum to investigate and unmask the murderer. I’m currently querying that with agents (keep your fingers crossed for me). To keep me distracted, I’m work on a brand new WIP which is a retelling based on my favourite film… that’s all I say for now! 👀

Thinking about all the stories/work you’ve done, what sticks out most in your mind? Why?

There are always similar themes explored, no matter the setting. Contemporary issues such as patriarchal oppression, victim blaming, toxic relationships, rape culture, and mental health stigma are considered through the experiences of various characters. These are areas I feel passionate about exploring, both for myself as a writer and for my readers.  

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

Well, with a 2-year-old my options are currently limited haha. So I snatch writing time while he’s napping or during my “off” evenings (when my husband puts him to bed). It’s hard but writing is very important to me so I’m doing the best I can! I will say, I invested in a Freewrite writing tool last year and it’s been a game-changer. Distraction free writing on a kind of mini-laptop (on which all you can do is write)—it’s fantastic and really helped me to focus and get Etherstone finished. 

(Pictured left: Lucy with her Freewrite)

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

To write what you love. Use your voice to tell the stories you want to. As soon as I did that, it all clicked together. I love what I write, and I hope, someday, my stories will reach a wider audience who also loves them. 

What’s your writing soundtrack?

Ooh it can be pretty random. I’ve been into ABBA lately because I went to see the new ABBA Voyage show a couple of times last year and now I love them. But my favourite band is Lord Huron so they’re a regular. I also still listen to a lot of the emo music from my youth—so the likes of The Distillers, Linkin Park, Sum 41, New Found Glory… that kind of thing. And sometimes it’ll be film and video game soundtracks. 

The quickfire round

Sci-fi, fantasy or horror?
Fantasy

Quiet or loud?
Quiet

Dark or light?
Dark

Strict lines or genre blend?
Genre Blend

Awards or bestseller?
Bestseller

Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction

Poetry or prose?
Prose

Plotter or pantser?
Pantser

Reading or listening?
Reading

Notebook or computer?
Computer

Favourite SFFH book of all time?
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Last book you read?
Lumi’s Spell by Ulana Dabbs (excellent Viking-inspired fantasy, highly recommend). 

Any SFFH author on auto-buy?
Robin Hobb, Joe Abercrombie, George R. R. Martin, Samantha Shannon, RJ Dark… the list goes on and this is why my TBR is so bloody big!!!

Favourite podcast?
I don’t really listen to many, to be honest. There are lots I would love to, but I just don’t get the opportunity to. Mainly Shagged, Married, Annoyed by Chris and Rosie Ramsey which is definitely not writing related!!

The home stretch

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

As a reader, there’s always something new and cool and surprising to get excited about. 
Having the ability to create new worlds and characters with nothing more than a blank page and my mind. It really amazes me every time. 

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

My author website is lucyamclarenauthor.com. You can find me on Instagram and Threads (@lucy_a_mclaren), Facebook (Lucy A. McLaren Author Page), TikTok (@lucyamclarenauthor) and Bluesky (@lucyamclaren.bsky.social). I love to connect with fellow fantasy nerds, so do come follow and say hi! 

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