Running the Bases with Bradley Lloyd
Thank you to Bradley Lloyd for joining me today to Run the Bases. After you finish the interview, be sure to check out Shadow Fray recently released from DSP Publications.
What drew you to write a dystopian world?
First, I’m a big fan of the genre, particularly in the YA realm. I loved The Hunger Games, Enclave, Divergent, Pure,Red Rising and many others. While my book is far from YA, I did try to keep the same spirit of page-turning fun that propelled many of those books.
Secondly, if I weren’t going to write a dystopian world, that would leave me with…a utopia? Sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it? A dystopian world is pretty common in sci-fi, I think because it’s hard to make a utopia interesting—unless it’s a false utopia, but the characters in Shadow Fray are under no such illusions.
I also believe it’s natural in considering the future to imagine how current situations might play out, so that’s what I did. I wrote my book before the current political climate, but so many things are happening regarding the environment, obfuscation of political motives and methods, alternative facts—the list could go on and on. So part of sci-fi and dystopian sci-fi in particular is cautionary—this is what could happen if we don’t take measures to prevent it. Not to be all doom-and-gloom, but I feel like my tale is a little more relevant than when I first wrote it.
What are some of your favorite sci-fi/fantasy worlds?
Too many to mention, so I’ll try to pick some off the beaten path! I devoured Ann McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern series when I was a kid, and that was my first real sci-fi obsession. You’d think from the covers and subject matter it’s fantasy but it’s actually a futuristic planet-hopping saga with dragons, so kind of a mash-up. I love to read (and write) mash-ups. Such a world is just so fascinating because you get to see how different elements would interact.
Setting is also key, and I admire how Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series incorporates New Orleans and makes the city a character in and of itself, as that’s something I tried to emulate. She takes something real—everyone is familiar with New Orleans—but she makes it something more and really brings it to life.
In terms of subject matter, I love David Wong’s John Dies at the End and the subsequent books, as anything with alternate dimensions and parallel universes piques my curiosity. The idea of a multiverse seems so fantastical but I watch the Science Channel a lot, and it’s amazing that the current scientific research is saying that yes, these worlds very well could exist. Plus, Wong toes the scary/funny line extremely well, and humor is what helps bring his world to life. One page you can be laughing and the very next page you’re kind of scared.
In more of the m/m realm, Gemma Files’s Hexslinger series has amazing world-building. It’s another mash-up of magic and the Old West, with almost a steam-punk vibe. In the end, though, it’s wholly original. I haven’t read anything like it.
But my favorite of them all is Rick Yancy’s The Monstrumologist and its sequels. You might know Rick Yancy from his more recent sci-fi 5th Wave series because it was turned into a movie, but The Monstromologist is where it’s at. It’s so well-written, I can’t believe it. I’m in awe. I wish I could write like him. In the first book in particular, he writes in this somewhat antiquated language very reminiscent of Poe or Lovecraft, so the language he uses becomes part of the world. The series stretches from the past to the present, using real news stories to invent a world prowled by monsters. And it’s really, really scary. This YA book is scarier than any adult horror book I’ve read. It’s not dystopian per se, more fantasy grounded in reality with a scientific slant. What I learned from Mr. Yancy, though, is that it’s the characters that make a world come alive. The relationship between the young Will Henry and the old Dr. Warthrop is the heart of the series, and you come to care about them so deeply that the world becomes all the more hostile as you want these two characters to make it out and be safe and okay. Without great characters, the world may be inventive and intriguing, but you must be invested in it to make it real. The characters do that.
What do you think is the most interesting part of the post-apocalyptic world you’ve created?
The most interesting part of the post-apocalyptic world I’ve created is the mystery surrounding it.
As hinted at above, my world is sort of a mash-up. I knew where I wanted to go with the world, and had a series of long conversations with a friend of mine who is a scientist and chemist. I knew the ground would be toxic and people would live in high-rises, and we talked about all the different ways I could go about making this plausible. Then I thought (and she agreed), isn’t it more realistic if there isn’t just a single cause? I’m a news junkie, and I can’t think of any current issue that has just one cause, because then solutions would be a lot easier and we’d be a lot better at solving the world’s problems. People debate and disagree on causes and courses of action. Wars aren’t fought on one front, but many. It’s not simple, it’s complex, like a big knot made of many different threads.
So, my apocalypse is somewhat of a confluence of events. It’s a big knot, but as the series continues, the threads will begin to unravel and things will become clearer. I’m dropping a lot of breadcrumbs along the way, though. There are clues, and maybe a red herring or two. It’s almost like writing a murder mystery. To continue with that analogy, there is a main culprit, but also some accessories to the murder. The ways the main characters, who are street fighters, become wrapped up in world events is going to be really fun. As they move up in the world they’ll become privy to more information and have some difficult choices to make. Their stage will get bigger, the stakes higher, and that means each book will be bigger than the last.
How would you describe your main character?
I have two main characters, and like in any good romance, they’re somewhat opposite. In a nutshell, Justin is thought, and Hale is action. Justin is younger, serious, and full of doubt, but he clings to that doubt because it helps him make informed decisions. Hale, on the other hand, is more experienced, headstrong and cocksure. He doesn’t often second guess himself. Justin is spiritual and philosophical, while Hale is a realist. Justin sees shades of gray when Hale sees the world as black and white. I think you get the idea 😊
What is true about both men is that they care and love deeply. Justin wants to keep his twin sister and younger brother safe, and Hale’s main concern is his daughter. In many ways, everything these guys have done has been for someone else. Being fighters, they’re very goal-oriented and often single-minded, so they really disrupt each other’s worlds. When they get together, it’s something very new for both of them, because they haven’t really allowed anyone else in before, and that’s been really fun to write.
About the Author
Bradley Lloyd is a Chicago-born author who studied Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was raised in a conservative religious household but became aware of his sexuality at a very young age—about the same age he learned of his ancestry to Hans Christian Andersen. Inspired by this knowledge, writing became an outlet that helped him cope with inner conflicts and bullying.
Of course, he was no angel and occasionally used his storytelling powers for evil. He once convinced the neighborhood children that gnomes had been real before all being turned into lawn ornaments.
Later, these experiences lead him to work with middle-school students. Now a teacher in the inner city, he shares his love of writing with a captive audience of kids, who are thrilled with true(ish) tales of their haunted school building.
Interestingly, his favorite UFC fighter and former world champion was a student at his school, and when Brad is not reading or writing, you might find him hosting the next UFC pay-per-view event party. His dreams of becoming an ultimate fighter are realized vicariously through his stories and video games.
Brad is happily married to a wonderful husband. Their tenth anniversary was also the day same-sex marriage became legal, and they were couple number seven at the courthouse.
You can read more of Brad’s (free) tales on his website BradleyLloyd.com, check him out on Medium, follow IMBradleyLloyd on Facebook and Twitter, or e-mail him directly at IMBradleyLloyd@BradleyLloyd.com