Up-and-coming Sci-Fi author Sergiu Lazin gives me an insight into his work as his first novel is launched on Amazon Publishing!
Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards science fiction writing?
Ever since I was a kid, all I ever wanted was to tell stories. I still have my very first attempt at “creative writing” from when I was 8 or 9 years old. “The man who saved nature” – the story of an eco-warrior fighting poachers and polluters around the globe (a kind of mix between Captain Planet, Indiana Jones and Chuck Norris). I only managed to write about 10 pages before my older brother discovered it and ridiculed it to pieces (there were scenes of gratuitous killings, but in my defence, this was around the time of the Rambo movies). In any case, his criticism hit really hard and I abandoned the idea of telling stories with words, focusing instead on drawings. I decided that since he was the better writer, I would become the better artist.
Throughout my entire youth, these two creative outlets have taken turns in absorbing my attention. Whenever I would experience something profound in my life, the urge to capture it would always manifest, either in written or in visual form. When it was time to make a career choice, my heart was still oscillating between the two. My two college options were film school where I would study screenwriting and directing and art school where I would study graphic design and advertising.
I chose what I then considered to be the safer option: art-school, which was closer to home and easier to get in to. I still wonder what my life would have been like had I made the bolder choice.
While my head and my hands were learning how to be an artist in the digital age, my heart was longing for new stories to tell. With each new attempt to revive my passion for the written word, the stories were becoming less and less anchored in reality.
When did you really start writing? What really drove you to put your ideas into a story?
In college I started to write a novel vaguely inspired by that lifestyle. The final chapter that I wrote before abandoning it described the protagonists chasing after the ultimate high – a perfect chemical balance that they perceived as building a space ship. Every ingredient in their drug-cocktail was like a new module in the craft that was to transport them beyond their world.
Once complete, the main character enters a dream-like state where he envisions himself at a rave in a giant capsule orbiting around the Earth. The moment is captured and beamed into infinity at the speed of light. And that comes with the absolute certainty that someone, somewhere and sometime will receive the transmission and will know that humans existed and they relished being alive.
This idea that what we do in our lives can reverberate across infinity was so strong that, from that moment on, I knew that if I was ever going to write anything again, it would be science-fiction.
How does it feel to have your first book published online?
I was honestly expecting it to make me feel much more vulnerable. I have quite a few reasons to be nervous about people’s perception of my work. For one thing, English is not my native tongue (as you can probably guess by my name) Then there’s the fact that my education in literature extends only to the high-school curriculum of Romania (where I’m from). And lastly, this is the first body of work that I’ve taken to a level that I feel comfortable enough to showcase in public. All things considered, I prepared myself for the worst when deciding to self-publish. That was, in my perception, the risk of being ridiculed to pieces again (like what happened with my brother in my childhood) but this time at a global scale.
But I quickly realized that receiving overwhelming criticism is not the greatest hardship. The greatest hardship is getting criticism at all. Ever since I have published, all the time that I used to spend writing my story I now spend trying to get people to read my work.
The scale of the internet is like the scale of the Galaxy. Picture someone starring at the night sky on a clear night with no light pollution around, gazing through a telescope at The Milky Way in full, glorious display. They have to choose one celestial body to study and observe closer while the conditions are favourable. And you are one of the billions of stars within the spiral’s arm (and that’s if you’re lucky and you have star ratings on your book, otherwise you’re basically a piece of moonrock adrift in interstellar space, impossible to detect in this metaphor) That’s what it feels like to have your first book published online.
Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?
Because this is my work of passion, I am not bound by the need to complete the work within a certain timeframe in order to generate revenue from it. This basically allows me to take my time. I actually had the first idea for this series over 5 years ago and have started writing it in one form or another several times. It was only 2 years ago that I decided to really put an effort into finishing a project for once. During this entire time, I have developed the story arc in great detail. So I know precisely what needs to be written next. The first Volume of my story will have three parts out of which the first part is completed and published online. What’s really exciting for me is knowing that the interesting parts are coming next. The first part is more about outlining the universe of the story, introducing the characters and setting up intriguing plot lines for each of them. I genuinely cannot wait to write what will happen next.
That being said, I still very much struggle with tone, phrasing and voice. I consider my writing style to be very lyrical and full-bodied (not a light Sunday read) so I often find myself wrestling to put down even the most basic of sentences. Whenever I sit down to write, I immediately know if I am in the mood for it or not. And if I’m not, I never try to force it. This would have to change if my first novel would become successful and people would want to read more. But if that were the case, I’m convinced that people’s enthusiasm towards my story would clear up any blockage for me.
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?
Unfortunately, I’m very much not a team player. Even in my professional life as a graphic designer, when I used to work in advertising agencies and was part of a creative team, in every brain-storming meeting I would keep quiet and let everyone else talk, and then work on my own ideas alone. This formula has worked well for me in my profession. But, as always, when doing client work, you have to make compromises and ultimately change your work to suit your client’s fancy.
This is something I do not want to do in my writing. I want to tell the story of Miracle Saga alone and in my own way. I’m not interested in writing anything else or with anyone else. That being said, it’s impossible not to recognize the influence of writers and books that I cherish (or worship) in my own writing. Here are some of the books that I know have crept up into my novel, despite my best efforts: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, The Pandora Sequence by Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom, Diary: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk (perhaps my favourite book of all time) and Solenoid by Mircea Cartarescu (sadly not yet translated from Romanian but an absolute treasure of a novel). To even stand in the turbulence of any of these forces of creation would make me crumble in reverence.
What’s next for your writing? Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
Parts 2 and 3 of Miracle Saga – Volume 0 are going to be an incredible writing journey for me and as I am typing these words, I feel my fingers tingling with the anticipation of getting back to my story and my beloved characters.
Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?
Between my day job, home-schooling my kid, trying to complete my own creative journey and struggling to promote my already published work, sadly I have little to no time left for reading. I’m also trying to keep my style as free from influence as I can, so right now I’m on a reading strike 😊
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Well, I guess in the end there’s only one thing left to say. I would be humbled and grateful to anyone willing to discover the first part of my saga – how it all began. I truly believe that my novel is unlike anything people have ever read before and that’s what I wanted to do since I was 8 or 9 years old. To tell a story that’s never been told before. Thank you.
It’s been a real pleasure finding out about a fascinating new author, so thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!