Saturday 9 December 2017

12 Days of Clink Street: Interview - D.N. Carter

It's my third and final feature as part of this year's 12 Days of Clink Street, and I'm interviewing author D.N. Carter. Read on to discover all!

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.
My father’s profession meant I moved a lot in my youth but spent many happy years living in Cyprus, it being the place where my interests in all things historical and mystical really started. I am now in my early fifties and fortunate to be fit and healthy enough to still undertake expeditions out into the wilds, whether desert or jungle.  
I am a design engineer by profession but a passionate historian and researcher into mankind’s past and future potential. That is what motivates me the most. I thirst for the truth and will leave no stone, or document unturned or unopened. I will, and have in the past, reappraised information if new verifiable information comes to light. Remaining open-minded at all times to all possibilities is the only way to learn and grow. My unquenchable sense of adventure has led me to serve in the military, organise expeditions to some of the world’s most inhospitable locations, as well as participate in such sports as parachuting, white water rafting and canoeing to mountain climbing and caving. But as much as I love to travel, I am in fact a home loving individual.
How did you first become interested in writing?
At school when I wrote a story for my English teacher doing my A-level preparation. She gave me a double ‘A’ star first ever. She marked the first few pages then stopped marking so she could read the rest and enjoy it. It made her cry. I realised then the power of words. I wrote my first poem shortly after that which resulted in me getting my first serious date...made her cry too. She never did say whether it was because it was so moving, or so bad!
outremer, dn-carter, book

Tell me about Outremer.
It is hopefully not just a powerful love story, but a tour through history and religion. Some have said it is like Game of Thrones meets The Da Vinci Code for its revelatory depth of information, mystery, intrigue and action – but for real! The story begins beneath the City of Jerusalem as the original founding Knights Templar recover ancient artefacts left by a former highly advanced civilisation, the repercussions of which led to those secrets being ruthlessly guarded as well as suppressed. Outremer addresses questions rarely asked and sheds new light on pressing issues that fuel the fires of religious division and demonstrates how the Crusades helped shape the relations between Christian and Muslim countries to this day. Informative yet never descending into the sensational, but not avoiding the horrors either, Outremer concludes that there is a way out of the dogmatic quagmire and a way forward as well as reveal hitherto unsuspected secrets that affect all of us. 
Outremer is very heavily based upon real events and people focusing upon the lives of Paul and Alisha and their very personal journey, growing from childhood into adulthood, and their battle to survive amidst the carnage of war and political upheavals that surrounded them. It weaves between the threads of our reality and other realms, from ancient megalithic sites to Druids, Sufi mystics, the Magi of the east to the secret political arm of the Knights Templar and the Isma’ilis, the Assassins! It’s a tour across Britain, Scotland, Ireland, France, Syria to Jerusalem and Egypt as you walk through the pages of history in the footsteps of knights and pilgrims alike. (Each volume is over 350,000 words with images and illustrations). Many ancient mysteries from the ‘Holy Grail’ are covered, to the so-called mythical Atlantis, ancient civilizer gods, dragons, ancient flying devices of myth, to angels present throughout history, to who and how the pyramids at Giza were constructed and why. There are genuine codes of antiquity and mysteries revealed within Outremer (all verifiable) as well as a modern code that leads to a real treasure if decoded.
What’s the best thing about writing fiction?
I have based Outremer very heavily upon real people and genuine historical records of the events during this period of time, but by writing it as fiction, I was able to let my imagination run free...whilst hopefully still keeping it real. As fiction, I was able to indulge my own understanding of the period, but also incorporate so-called otherworldly facts that would have otherwise seemed utterly ridiculous, perhaps unbelievable and out of place in such a book.
How do you get inspiration?
After experiencing several very lucid and vivid dreams whilst living in Cyprus, I became inspired to learn as much as I could about ancient mysteries and the hidden codes that appeared obvious to me...and my frustration that others simply did not see them, and those that did just did not care. This inspired me further, to seek out ways or some method that I could hopefully stimulate an interest in what I was seeing and learning, if only so others could check the validity and authenticity of my research. I wanted people to challenge what I thought I could see; that our past is not as we are taught. That it stretched far further back into antiquity and that it is more curious and mysterious than most people dare to suppose. Trying to get people to look at the evidence and to ask questions is what inspires me. That was and remains my main inspiration.
Did you find it difficult to write about such well-known parts of history, like the Crusades and the Holy Grail?
Having grown up with a love of history and having read just about all and everything I could ever lay my hands upon regarding the Crusades, Grail romances, the mysteries of the Middle East and India etc, I was fortunately already pretty much deeply engrossed in the period. Double checking facts, when certain facts were presented by different sources, such as Arabic chronicle versions set beside Latin versions that differed, caused perhaps some difficulty, as in trying to establish which ones were more factual, historically accurate or exaggerated. I had to, therefore, seek several sources and other contributory evidence to establish a definitive account of an action or event. Example being the surrender of Latin forces after the Battle of Hattin 1187. Differing accounts present different versions. But I believe I established, in my mind at least, as near to the actual event as possible after cross-referencing several authentic written accounts from the period. 
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of writing about this period was the use of swear words or modern words that appeared too out of place. I had to compromise when it came to using modern words; one example being ‘homosexual’ as this was a word not even used until centuries later. Plus locations such as Ireland, Scotland, Iraq, Turkey etc are all new names, so I had to insert these modern names in brackets the first few times I mentioned a location in its 12th-century name so the reader knows where I am referring to.
What draws you to writing about the past?
I have always had an affinity to this period, especially the secret and mysterious Knights Templar, their clothing and equipment plus a deep fascination with ruins, mainly castles. It began when I was nine years of age. I went to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire on a school trip. I loved the architecture and the feeling of spiritual peace that I sensed there. That trip revealed I had a natural talent for drawing architectural scenes. I visited many castles and ruins and my fascination simply grew from there. As a youth, I was lucky enough to travel to several major castles in Cyprus, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. The beauty, scale and history of them utterly captivated me...but gave me a sense of sadness too for all the carnage of war that was visited upon them and their occupants. Consequently, I asked myself, why, why would people fight wars of such unbelievable brutality? That question was rammed home after learning how the Christian Crusaders captured Jerusalem in AD 1099 and massacred all of its 70,000 inhabitants regardless of religion. 
I seriously questioned the real motives for the first Crusade with a deep sense there was far more than we are taught. Many more questions would follow and so my research began in earnest ...and now in my mid-fifties I am still researching and as one question is answered, still more arise. I feel an affinity for the 11th century period but also ancient India and Egypt. I personally feel that the events that unfolded during the period of 1045 to 1194 were instrumental in shaping our world today. I believe the majority of people are simply not aware just how momentous the events of this period were, and will prove to be. It is another reason why I chose this particular period to set Outremer.
What’s your writing process?
Back in 2005, I had the basics of the story behind Outremer; the main characters and the main facts I wished to convey. I penned a large 175-page synopsis of the chapters and what each one should contain. I already had most of the research in my head from my years of studying so it was not a lengthy process to put together. When I sat down in 2013 to start working upon the actual book, more details came to light as I crossed referenced information, which in turn led to additional scenes and scenarios being added, but also new characters as the plot began to develop in different directions I had not even previously considered. 
This is why my idea of a single volume of 140,000 words turned into 1,247,000 words, and four separate major volumes. When I actually write, I just type away at what I am trying to say and reveal. I write as if I am talking to someone sat opposite me. I have never been stuck for far, nor suffered writer's block. Perhaps I write too much, but I view that as not a bad thing. I always go back over what I have written to check for missing words, spellings and whether I have conveyed accurately, or believably enough, what I am trying to say.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
Having to brutally edit down what I have written. Sometimes having written several paragraphs, I have come back to them and reread them and realised I can cut out half the paragraph or sentence. Sometimes if what I have written is confusing or simply not clear enough, I have had to bite hard and delete entirely the whole section and start again. Starting again is perhaps the very hardest aspect and trial for an author. Having invested time, and real emotion sometimes, in a paragraph, or whole chapter, to then have to delete it and start again is a sad moment...but sometimes a very necessary one. 
Trying to be left alone in peace to lose myself in my writing is also hard. I have a small studio I escape to, but even then, there are usually many interruptions and distractions. I tend to, therefore, write in the evenings, often late into the early hours and many a night until the sun came up. But also being disciplined when outside the sun is shining and I am stuck indoors. To focus on the scene or information I am writing about. Keeping things real and accuracy and continuity are perhaps the hardest aspects of writing, especially such a lengthy story as Outremer. I had to write checklists I could refer back to so I did not miss out something I had said would be covered later. Even then I still missed out two elements by the time I got to the end of book 4, which I had to rewrite to incorporate the missing elements. Writing full time is a lonely existence in a lot of ways, but I am comfortable with that.
What do you love the most about writing? 
The ability to travel anywhere and be anyone I want to be. But the greatest joy is when my writing touches someone. When it makes them stop and think...when it has had a positive impact and in some cases, as I am discovering, given the reader some answers and comfort...and hope.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Never ever let anyone discourage you. Never take to heart comments made by others. Take advice as it’s given if constructive...but always trust your own deep inner voice. Do not be afraid to write what you feel, what you really want to don’t sell yourself short by trying get approval or praise from others for your work, for if you do that, you simply set yourself up for disappointment and upset because you will never please all the people all of the time. Be prepared for harsh and sometimes downright nasty appraisals of your work no matter how good it actually may be.
What’s your all-time favourite book?
The Great Pyramid Decoded by Peter Lemesurier. I read this book in 1976 and it fired me with a passion to research deeper into the mysteries of our past, and ultimately the path I follow in life. The Peanuts (Snoopy books) by Charles Schultz come a very close second. So much he reveals in his cartoons are actually very deep and insightful about people and life and presented with great humour.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To keep on writing for as long as I am able and provoke readers into action to look beyond what they think they know. To always keep researching and learn; for learning is neverending.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
Walking in the mountains of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, seeking out ancient sites. Any excuse to visit a castle or a ruin and I am there. I love canoeing in the Ardeche region of France, parachuting when I get the opportunity, micro-light flying and off-road biking to stay fit.
What are you currently working on?
Still working on Outremer series. Book four final edit underway. This will be followed by a factual book containing all the information in greater detail of the mysteries and esoteric codes contained within Outremer, titled The Secrets and Sons of Sion. Then I have a further book based on research into the discovery of several scrolls located in France in 2015 with sound templates and Templar connections, titled The Scroll. Once all of that is complete, I have a prequel to Outremer that reveals how some of the characters in Outremer first met up as well as other esoteric revelations.
Outremer is available to buy now. 

Have you been following the 12 Days of Clink Street blog tour? Let me know in the comments below!

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