Josh de Lioncourt
Hello Readers and Writers!
Today we would like to introduce you to an author who we consider incredibly talented, easy going and creative beyond words. In the short amount of time that we spent meeting him, this multi-talented author, podcaster and musician has inspired us in innumerable ways! Being visually impaired has not stopped him from creating beautiful stories, songs and beautiful book covers! Even his name is fierce!
Introducing Josh de Lioncourt!
RL: When did you start writing as a career?
JDL: I've been writing for myself for as long as I can remember, and it wasn't always restricted to prose. I write music, fiction, tech articles, and even software. After doing some writing for Maccessibility.net and Macworld about the accessibility of Apple products, I decided to really give fiction a go. My first novel, Haven Lost, was published in 2014, and I've been doing a lot of writing ever since, both indie and for hire. Writing is not the only thing I do, but it is certainly one of the most satisfying.
RL: You have a unique challenge as an author. How has being blind effected your creative process?
JDL: I didn't lose my vision until I was six-years-old. Before that point, I was an artistic kid, spending a lot of hours drawing and such. After becoming blind, my creative outlets shifted to music and storytelling.
I'm naturally a very visual person, and because I remember having vision and what things looked like, my writing tends to be rather visually descriptive. One of the most frequent comments I receive about my work is, "How do you describe things so vividly if you're blind?" The truth is that even in day-to-day life, I visualize everything. I'm sure part of that is just naturally how I'm made, and some of it is that I want to hold on to the memories of my vision. In either case, I think it has served me well.
On the more practical side, being a visually impaired author can be challenging (even frustrating) at times. Book covers, for instance, are an important component of marketing your work. I can have all the opinions and suggestions about how my covers should look, but in the end I have to trust others about whether or not the covers to my books are representing my stories in the ways I want them to.
Formatting can be time consuming, too. A sighted author need only glance at a page to know that something is wonky with their spacing, margins, etc. When you're blind, it's a bit more complicated, and requires constant checking and double checking—especially if, like me, you're a bit of a perfectionist.
RL: How have accessibility programs aided you in your creative journey?
JDL: I'm an Apple guy, so I use Macs, iPhones, iPads, etc. All of Apple's products include a screen reader called VoiceOver, which essentially makes those devices completely accessible to the blind by translating what is represented on the screen into spoken content and allowing a blind user to interact with it via special gestures (iPhone/iPad) or the keyboard (Mac).
I do all of my fiction writing using an application called Scrivener, which I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone doing long-form writing projects. The company that produces it has really gone above and beyond making sure it works well for visually impaired writers, even though we are not its primary market, and I'd be lost without it. Generally, I write first drafts on iPad, and then edit and format on the Mac.
RL: What's your current work in progress?
JDL: Right now, I'm working on the third volume of The Dragon's Brood Cycle, my epic fantasy series, as well as an unrelated stand-alone novel. The stand-alone is really different from anything else I've written, combining the Western and Mystery genres, (neither of which I typically work in), and held together with a healthy dollop of Fantasy.
I'm not sure which of those WIPs will be released first, but in all likelihood, it'll be the third book in my series, since readers are anxious to find out what happens to their favorite characters.
RL: Your genre is Fantasy. Epic Fantasy! What led you to write in that area?
JDL: Fantasy, and to a lesser extent Sci-Fi, has always attracted me as a genre. I grew up in the 1980s watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoons, reading the Oz and Earthsea books, and enraptured by Star Trek and Star Wars.
As I entered adolescence, I discovered authors like Stephen King and Anne Rice who, though the mainstream tends to consider them horror writers, I maintain fall much more firmly in the general Fantasy category with most of their work. Stephen King's The Dark Tower is clearly Epic Fantasy, and his work has been hugely influential to my own.
Speaking more broadly, Fantasy allows for endless possibilities in storytelling. Being able to build the world in which your story takes place and define all the rules for yourself tends to widen the scope of the types of stories you can tell. It often allows the author to explore questions or social issues that might otherwise be controversial in a safe space. The 1960s Star Trek series was famous for doing this, and it is one of the things I admire most about that franchise.
RL: How do your books rebel against the status quo in that genre?
JDL: A lot of Epic Fantasy tends to box itself into what I think of as classic Sword and Sorcery—i.e., knights, wizards, castles, and so on. I love all those things, and definitely rely on those tropes in many of my stories, but I think stories are often better if you allow yourself, as the author, to color outside the lines, so to speak.
I like to surprise the reader (and sometimes myself) by tilting the world of the story on its axis. Take a young hockey star out of her environment and drop her into a magical war? Yes! Mix time travel and inter-dimensional realities? Why not? Blur the lines between identity, gender, and spirituality? Do it, if you can tell a compelling story.
RL: Which one of your books is your favorite?
JDL: That has got to be the toughest question for any author! I'll hedge a little and give two answers from different perspectives.
Treasures and Trinkets, a short story I just published last week as a companion to The Dragon's Brood Cycle, is probably my favorite story I've written. It has a simpler plot than the novels, but has an emotional resonance to it that I'm incredibly proud of. Even now, months after having finished writing it, I can't stop thinking about it.
Haven Divided, the second volume in The Dragon's Brood Cycle, is the full-length novel I'm most proud of. As a writer, I think my style continues to improve, and the story itself bucks many of the typical Fantasy tropes, which I think makes for a more compelling story. That book takes several distinct threads and weaves them together in a way that is both satisfying and really sets things up for the remainder of the series.
RL: Talk to me about the path you choose in publishing.
JDL: I went down the self-publishing road when I published Haven Lost for a number of reasons. The idea of controlling my work and how its presented appeals to me. On the other hand, a lot of marketing is a visual art, an area where I find I have a distinct disadvantage. I occasionally have thought about trying to find a smaller publisher to work with in the future, but haven't really begun that process yet.
I also really enjoyed being hands-on during the production of the audiobook editions of my work. The Dragon's Brood Cycle audiobooks are narrated by Reay Kaplan, a marvelous actor and puppeteer. She's done a tremendous job. As a voracious reader in general (and of audiobooks in particular), it was important to me that the audiobooks really capture the essence of the story and characters. For Haven Divided and Harmony's Song, I wrote and recorded music for the audiobooks and did much of the editing of the narration myself.
RL: How do you manage writing time? Is finding writing time an issue for you?
JDL: It definitely can be. I wear a lot of hats and work on a number of projects. Sometimes, even having the time to write isn't enough if the creative juices are exhausted for the day. That said, I'm always trying to find new ways to reorganize my time, and I'm always working to increase my output. This year, I've set myself a goal of releasing at least one full-length novel, and preferably two.
RL: Tell me about you adventures in podcasting!
JDL: I've been involved on a number of podcasts over the years. For a long time I hosted the Maccessibility Round Table Podcast, a show dedicated to the accessibility of Apple products for the blind and visually impaired. I stepped away from that, largely due to time constraints. Currently, I am one of the co-hosts of MastersCast, a podcast that has been running since 2005, which discusses the Masters of the Universe property in all its variations, including both the He-Man and She-Ra sides.
RL: Your website mentions that you record music with your wife. Tell me about that!
JDL: I've been writing music for at least as long as I've been writing stories. Mostly, that's pop music with a European slant. My wife sings, something I definitely do not do, so we make a good team. We're currently working on an album.
When Harmony's Song (a short story companion to The Dragon's Brood Cycle) was published, my wife and I recorded the song I wrote that is the centerpiece of that story. It's included in the audiobook and can also be heard at https://dragonsbrood.net in the media section. All of the voices you hear on that track are my wife, and I couldn't be happier with how it came out.
Mostly, though, the songs I write are similar to the stories I tell. I like to mix genres and influences in interesting ways that still fit firmly in the pop genre. George Michael is, by far, my favorite musician, but I also enjoy everything from the Eagles to Lisa Loeb, Bon Jovi to Weird Al.
RL: Where do you see your writing career going in the future?
JDL: Hopefully upwards! I love telling my tales, and as long as people still enjoy reading them, I'll keep putting them out there. I definitely want to experiment in some different genres as well, although I suspect there will always be at least a supernatural bent to what I write.
I'd also love to translate my work into other mediums, be that comic, film, audio dramas, or what have you. Time will tell.
RL: What are you reading right now?
JDL: I recently read The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, and have just lately been casually rereading some of Baum's original Oz books. I loved the Oz series growing up, but as an adult, reading those stories through a very different lens, it's fascinating to see just how far ahead of his time Baum was. There's a distinct feminist streak throughout (impressive for his day) that was largely lost in the 1939 film, and many of the tropes we see in Fantasy (and even sci-fi) today can be traced back to his work. It has been an interesting ride, and I'm finding myself falling in love with his characters all over again, all be it for very different reasons from when I was a child.
RL: What can readers expect from you in the future?
JDL: I have two novels in the works right now, and ideas for several short stories waiting in the wings. Mostly, I hope to keep improving my craft (as all writers should strive to do) and release titles more frequently going forward. There was a longer gap between the first and second volumes of The Dragon's Brood Cycle than I would've liked, in part because I was working on a project for Dark Horse Comics.
Get a free copy of Treasures and Trinkets here: https://lionl.ink/ttfree