Lindsey Kinsella is a Scottish fantasy and science fiction writer and author of “The Lazarus Taxa” and “The Heart of Pangaea.”
While a qualified and experienced naval architect and an avid car enthusiast, he always reserved a space in his life for a deep fascination with paleontology. This drove his writing process as he strove to write tales of the rich and complex history of life on Earth.
As of June 2, 2023 you have a new book out, The Heart of Pangea. Tell us about it.
The Heart of Pangaea is quite the departure from what I had written before. My previous book, The Lazarus Taxa, was a fairly grounded, gritty, adult sci-fi thriller, but I found myself wishing my children could read something I’d written.
So, a more family friendly concept was born. Using an imaginary fantasy setting allowed me to apply all the tension and drama that I enjoy, without the need for bloody violence. It also allowed me to take things a little less seriously and employ a lot more humour than before, which is something I had a lot of fun with.
I hope the readers of all ages (within reason, I’d suggest 10+) enjoy the combination of high emotional stakes, whimsical comedy, and fast paced action.
Both of your books to date deal with dinosaurs and paleontology. Will readers learn as be entertained as they read them?
Absolutely! In fact, that was the original spark which motivated me to write in the first place. Paleontology is so endlessly fascinating and goes far deeper than most people know. I hope to bring those ancient worlds to the reader in a way that interests them as well as entertains.
The Lazarus Taxa takes an in-depth look at a specific snap-shot in time, delving into the world of Late Cretaceous North America. I loved being able to recreate more than just dinosaurs, but an entire ecosystem.
The Heart of Pangaea offers a more expansive viewport into natural history, with creatures from throughout time co-existing in a fantasy realm. It’s somewhat of a tribute to the history of the science, with many characters being based on real life paleontologists.
In both books I tend to take short interlude chapters which divulge some of the scientific background behind the story. I wanted to avoid lengthy dialogue with clunky scientific jargon, so these short non-fiction chapters feel more fluid.
Do you have a set writing schedule (time, place, method, etc.)?
It’s far from a schedule, I really just write whenever I can find an hour or two of quiet time! That tends to be late at night with both books having been almost exclusively written after 11pm.
What are you currently writing or what will be your next project?
I have already started on a new project and I’m rediscovering my love of first drafts! There’s something refreshing about a blank page after a year of redrafts and edits.
The current work in progress follows the crew of an illegal whaling ship who find themselves stranded in the Arctic. It’ll be my first divergence from paleo-inspired fiction and will instead focus on climate science.
How much time do you spend writing compared to marketing? Do you feel that is the right balance for you?
Realistically I spend far more time marketing than writing, at least if you include social media marketing. Of course, I would love the reverse to be true, but marketing is far more demanding. However, social media definitely makes it easier, and being able to market on the go in short bursts does mean such activities don’t tend to eat into actual writing time.
What is your favorite part about writing? What is the hardest part for you?
I think my favourite stage is probably around the third or fourth draft when everything starts to come together and make sense. It’s around that time I find myself really falling in love with the story and finding the motivation to write then is so easy.
The hardest part actually comes before the first draft—what’s the next story? Like most writers, I’m sure, I have pages and pages of story ideas, concepts, worlds, characters; I’ll likely not live long enough to see them all in print! Choosing any one puts the rest on hold for at least a year, maybe more, so it’s a big decision!
What is the best advice you ever received as a writer?
Hire an editor. Without question. It seems like such an obvious thing to more seasoned authors, but back when I was completely new to it all I probably underestimated its importance. But I’m glad I didn’t skip that vital step—my editor made a world of difference to both novels in ways I would never have considered (shout out to Donna Marie West; she’s amazing!).
When you start a story, do you begin with character, plot, setting, other?
It seems to vary. The Lazarus Taxa certainly grew from the setting, my current WIP grew from the plot, and The Heart of Pangaea really grew from a single scene which I then built a story round.
For anyone who has read it, I’d love to hear you guess which scene!
What is your favorite time of day?
It depends on the time of year, but now in the summer I love the afternoons. The sun is out (yes, even in Scotland) and even simple tasks become a joy.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?
Definitely the former. While watching TV or surfing the internet, I’ll be needing a sleep by about 11am. But when writing, I could go all night. Often, I have to force myself to shut it down for the night to avoid being rather exhausted in the morning… I guess in a way it does both then!
Book Locations: The Heart of Pangaea can be found on most online book retailers. Amazon link
I strode into the passageway. Robyn hesitated before following along the gloomy passage. The blue torchlight flickered and danced against the walls, but there were still no clues as to what lay at the end. It seemed to stretch into the depths of the mountain forever. The haunting voice of the Mausoleum echoed out once more.
“Before the Architect can be bestowed with the Heart, she must prove she is ready. You must pass the three trials of the Archean.”
“Trials?” I asked with a gulp.
“These trials will test the traits the Architect must possess to fulfill her destiny.”
“What destiny?” she replied.
“The scripture…” I mused.
“For your first trial, you must prove your haste.”
I looked at Robyn with a sly smile.
“Hundred metre sprint champion four years in a row,” I reminded her with a wink. “I think you can prove you’re fast.”
With the loud grinding of moving stone, a trapdoor opened before us. We walked toward this new hole in the floor and gazed into the abyss. As far as I could tell, this hole had no bottom. Who knew how far down it went or what lay below, but it was clear this was where we need to go.
“Architects first,” I said while gesturing toward the hole.
“I’m not going down there,” she replied, her eyes pinned wide with terror. “How deep is it? We could be jumping to our death.”
“I don’t think the disembodied voice of the Mausoleum would have us leap to our demise. That seems a little convoluted.”
“You don’t know that Ed. Oh god, or we could get stuck, or there could be spiders, or—”
“Okay, I hear what you’re saying but…”
Without finishing that sentence, I gave her gentle shove down the hole. She screamed for a couple of seconds before thumping at the bottom. I dived after her, landing right by her feet in another long passageway.
“What was that, Ed?”
“You needed a push,” I replied. “For your mum.”
Robyn shook her head before sighing deeply.
“What’s this trial of haste all about, then?”
Up ahead, at a distance which I reckoned might well have been exactly a hundred metres, two bright orange torches illuminated a wooden door.
“So, I guess you just run to the door as quickly as you can?” I suggested.
“Seems simple enough.”
“Maybe too simple.”
It was. From behind us came a dry, laboured gasping. I spun around to see a hulking mass, covered in dark, patchy fur, creeping out from the shadows.
The creature which emerged was hideous. Its jaws were vast and housed oversized teeth which dripped with saliva. Dark, soulless eyes penetrated through the torchlight. The beast’s front limbs were much taller than its hind legs, creating a muscular, front-heavy body plan with an immense hump of muscle above its shoulder blades. Its matted fur was interrupted by seemingly random bald patches, scars, and warts.
“Daeodon,” Robyn confirmed with a tremble in her voice.
I feared as much, though I knew it better by its unofficial and well-earned title—the Hell pig.
It seemed that failing the “trial of haste” would have fatal consequences.