MD Lachlan is a pen name – created after Mark Barrowcliffe, author of works such as Girlfriend 44 and Lucky Dog, felt himself irresistibly drawn back to fantasy after writing his Dungeons and Dragons memoir The Elfish Gene.
Wolfsangel might surprise readers of Mark’s other work. He’s always been noted for his comic writing (‘Wickedly funny’ – New York Post, ‘Painfully funny’ – The Bookseller) but Wolfsangel marks a sharp departure of content and style.
The book is a historical fantasy/horror hybrid that reflects Mark’s childhood reading on the occult and witchcraft. ‘If it makes you laugh, I’ve done something wrong’ says Mark.
The MD in MD Lachlan stands for Mark Daniel – Mark’s real name. He went with initials instead of a name because, as so often in his life, he didn’t really think things through. Now he attends publishing events where people don’t know what to call him. He wishes he’d gone with Mark Lachlan but it’s too late now.
The comic Steve Martin was once told by Johnny Carson ‘You will use everything you know’. Wolfsangel, for Mark, bears that out.
Why did you decide to try a different writing style with this series?
I didn’t really decide. I sat down to write a modern comedy and a story about a Viking werewolf popped out. It was a bit strange but I think I was ready to give something more serious a go and my subconscious decided to just take over.
What kind of wolfish goodness can werewolf addicts like myself expect to get out of these novels?
It’s a very different sort of werewolf. Most people don’t know that the werewolf we think of nowadays – changing with the full moon, being affected by silver, passing on the condition through its bite, changing back into a man – arrived really after the 1950s. It’s a Hollywood creation. Even in the seminal The Wolfman from 1941 the werewolf changes ‘when the wolfsbane is in bloom’, not at the full moon.
My werewolf is nearer to that of Norse myth – where you change as a result of a curse or by casting spells on yourself. Both types of werewolf are in Wolfsangel and Fenrir. The other thing is that the conversion to a wolf is sometimes a one-way trip.
Wolfsangel deals with the mental consequences of losing your humanity and the consequences for those who love you. I’ve been surprised that some people have found the story rather gory. I did try to keep the gore to a minimum but it is a werewolf story. He doesn’t tickle people to death!
What’s your favorite Norse myth?
I think the basic creation and death of the gods myth in the poetic Edda – Voluspo – the seeress’s prophecy. It shows that the destiny of the gods is set at the start of creation. This idea of an inescapable fate is central to the Viking thinking and I try to reflect that in my books. The Voluspo is one of the more sinister and disturbing myths – some of the others have a humorous aspect to them but this one is virtually all very dramatic and very weird. I love the language of this myth and the imagery it conjures:
‘The fetters shall burst and the wolf run free
Much do I know and more can see.’
I also like the story of how Odin took the runes – the Hovamol section of the poetic Edda where the god makes a sacrifice of himself to himself.
‘I know that I hung on that wind-wracked tree
Hung there for nights full nine
With the spear I was wounded and offered I was
To Odin, myself to myself.’
I love the Moonsword! How did you come up with the idea?
I saw it, as I do with much of the stuff I invent. I pictured King Authun invading the Saxon village and saw that he had a curved sword in his hand. That’s quite an anachronism so I had to start thinking about why that might be.
You must be a dog person! Tell us about the furry friend in your life.
My dog Reg just died in January. To be honest, I still haven’t quite got over it. Writers spend a lot of time with their dogs and I was with him virtually every hour of every day. I wrote a book about him under my real name of Mark Barrowcliffe. It’s called Lucky Dog and is a comic fantasy about a man whose dog starts talking to him. It was well received by critics.
Can readers expect more installments in this series? If so, is there anything in the works right now?
Fenrir is out very soon in the UK and in October in the US. It’s the sequel to Wolfsangel, set about 80 years later at the Viking siege of Paris. I’m just finishing the third book in the series, which hasn’t got a name yet. That’s another 80 or so years on, set in Constantinople, where the Vikings became the emperor’s guard. Theoretically the story will proceed through history to the modern day.
If you could be any mythological character for a day; which one would you choose and why?
A tough one. Not a werewolf, I think – imagine the flossing. Probably Loki the Norse trickster god. He seems to have a very good time, shape shifts, gets to fly about in a hawk feather cloak and, crucially, is practically the only Norse god who isn’t also a god of war.
Can you recommend any good werewolf books (other than yours of course!)?
I love Angela Carter’s story The Company of Wolves, which I’d recommend to any werewolf fan – a real chiller. To my shame I have never read another werewolf novel, though I have read a great deal of werewolf myth. I was going to read Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf but it’s too near in conception to the original idea for Wolfsangel – which was set in WWII. Should my series ever get as far as the early 20th century I don’t want it impinging on what I’m writing.
Describe your book, Fenrir, in 5 words or less.
24 with a Viking werewolf
How much of this series is based on historical facts vs fictional elements?
The setting is historical but the story is invented. The Vikings really did lay siege to Paris, for instance, and I use some of the personalities that took part in the siege. However, what happens is a complete invention. I really try to understand how people thought at this period of history – their ways of looking at the world can be very odd by modern standards – none more so that the fact many of them believed that every detail of their life was set at birth and what they wanted made no difference to what happened to them.
The magic in the series is based on real world religious and ascetic practices of self denial and, in some cases, self-inflicted torture.
Tell us something that no one else knows!
The WWII version of the story is already written. It may not be published for 15 years, but it’s waiting to go!
Thanks M. D. for participating in our Midnight Summer Festival and good luck with your latest series!
There’s still time to enter the giveaway to win a signed copy of Wolfsangel. Check out my post from Sunday if you missed it!
Tomorrow’s festivities: Interview and Giveaway with Kevin Hearne!
About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada
Thank you for sharing this wonderful interview.
A most interesting interview. Loki the Norse trickster god turns up every now and then, a great choice.