Author Interview: Stephen M. Coghlan

Today I am interviewing Stephen M. Coghlan, author of the new psychological, dark fantasy novel, Urban Gothic.

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DJ: Hi Stephen! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Stephen M. Coghlan: Thank You, DJ. I’m an ever-expanding, both literally and figuratively, Canadian author who writes a variety of genres. I started writing when I was 18, but only landed my first contract in 2016. Since then I’ve been busy getting my name out there.

DJ: What is Urban Gothic about?

Stephen: Urban Gothic is a Dreampunk action Novella that focuses on a battle-scarred veteran as he is once more forced to fight for freedom within the land of dreams, but this time, the battle isn’t just against an external foe, as he must fight against his banality if he is to have any hope of surviving.

I think this is best described by the summary: Burned out and drugged up, Alec LeGuerrier spends his days faking it, barely eking out an existence while living in a haze of confusion and medicated mellowness. That is, until he stops a gang of nightmarish oddities from killing a strange young woman with indigo eyes.

Dragged into the lands of the dreaming, he must come to terms with his brutal past and his grim imagined future in a land his body knows is real, but his mind refuses to acknowledge.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Urban Gothic?

Stephen: Sooooo

So much.

Firstly, I’m going to name the role-playing game, Changeling The Dreaming from White Wolf. It really let me consider dreams leaking their way into our reality. During my teenage years I even hang a poster of the cover in my room.

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series AND Neverwhere cannot be ignored.

The movies The Cell (2000) and Ink (2009) were referenced several times during my writing sessions, and I tried to embrace parts of Meanwhile City from Franklyn.

But I should concentrate on some more organic samples. Both my father and my uncle, who worked as first responders, suffer from PTSD, as well as several of my friends who served in the military. They are just some of the people I love who bear scars on their souls.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?

Stephen: Alec LeGuerrier is, at the beginning of the adventure, a medically mellowed, plain and straightforward character. He was purposefully constructed that way so that the audience could follow along with his growth as he is submerged into the wildly fantastic lands of The Dreamscape. As he adapts, the audience can follow along rather than just being sledgehammered with information.

DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role for in story? Why?

Stephen: I love them all. From M’lanth’s tragic backstory, Frederick finding his freedoms in dreams, Veleda’s attitude… but I would have to chose the unnammed doctor, simplt because he was just fun to write. Sometimes, I throw a character in just to return a bounce to my step, and it was his scene that helped me set my visual mood.

DJ: What is the world [What is the name of the universe] and setting of Urban Gothic like? ((the environment, weather, people, religion, technology, architecture, government, etc; is it violent, peaceful, patriarch/matriarch, etc.))

Stephen: The setting is the imagination, so it is both limitless, and yet held in check.

The story starts off in Montreal, Canada, present day. There is nothing fantastic, nothing out of the ordinary, but soon it expands to the Dreamscape, a shared world shaped by humankind’s subconsciousness. Alec and his companions soon go on a globe trotting adventure, and we follow Alec as he witnesses lakes of ice beside ponds of fire, a sleep-sand covered New York, the giant infested hills of Stenshuvud, and, the library of Alexandria.

It is a tangible world. One that can be smelled, eaten from, touched, tasted, but Alec is special because he is a crafter, someone who can dream, and he would be akin to a God, if only he could remember how to want something again.

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Urban Gothic?

Stephen: It was the chance to just go nuts creating. Every other story I’ve ever wrote has had rules and regulations, physics and limitations, but not Urban Gothic.

This however, was also the most stressful part. I wanted to make something utterly fantastic but at the same time, leave it familiar. I constantly worried that I was walking full force into something that I couldn’t bridge properly.

Believe it or not, it was a song that helped. There’s an old marching song from my youth that Alec sings to himself right at the beginning of the story. It’s a request, a prayer, a motivation, and it is silly enough too, that it sets the attitude just right.

DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?

Stephen:I’ve already heard that people liked the imagery, the creativity, and the pacing. Urban Gothic is short, and something a reader can burn through in a single seating, but there’s a reason for that.

Urban Gothic feels like a movie, moves at a movie’s pace. It smacks you, draws you in, and keeps you clinging to it until it’s over. While writing it, I moved at a pace I felt it could handle, where it focussed enough on the characters and the world without feeling bogged down.

So far though, I haven’t heard anything about a little detail I cared much about. There is a growing romance, and I wonder if people liked what I did with it?

DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Urban Gothic? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?

Stephen: The theme itself is Freedom, and freedom in many ways.

Alec is looking for freedom from his existence, freedom from his medications, freedom from the nightmares and PTSD that haunt him. In the dreamscape, he finds himself fighting for the freedom of his companions from a tyrannical ruler, and discovers the freedom to love who he can without judgement.

As far as the messages go, I want to remind readers that not all scars are physical.

There is one more part to this though, if this helps give someone the freedom to be themselves, than I’ve succeeded.

DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Urban Gothic that you can share with us?

Stephen: BK Bass, one of my editors, loves this line:

That’s like asking a fish if it has trouble breathing underwater, or a bird if it can fly. To others it’s bizarre, but to the fish and the bird; they simply do.  

My personal favorite line is: In our dreams, we can release our inhibitions, be who we truly wish to be, live the lives we desire but banned ourselves from. We can remove our masks, and face the truths we have concealed.

DJ: Now that Urban Gothic is released, what is next for you?

Stephen:  Who boy, that’s a loaded question and a half. I’m always busy with writing.

I’m presently doing final edits on the second book in the Genmos series, while waiting for the first book in my Nobilis series to come out from the publisher.

I have another Novella I’ve signed to Kyanite that should be coming my way for edits soon, an Edwardian era action human/centaur romance called 50 Shades of Neigh…

And that’s just the start.

DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?  

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Coghlan/e/B01MZA66KF%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wordsbysc/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16943595.Stephen_M_Coghlan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WordsBySC

Website: http://scoghlan.com

DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!

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*** Urban Gothic is published Kyanite Publishing available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Goodreads

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About the Book:

Burned out and drugged up, Alec LeGuerrier spends his days faking it, barely eking out an existence while living in a haze of confusion and medicated mellowness. That is, until he stops a gang of nightmarish oddities from killing a strange young woman with indigo eyes.

Dragged into the lands of the dreaming, he must come to terms with his brutal past and his grim imagined future in a land his body knows is real, but his mind refuses to acknowledge.

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About the Author:

Born in Scarborough, before it joined the megacity of Toronto, Stephen emigrated from the provincial capital to the national capital with his parents and siblings. Raised in the woods outside of Ottawa where the social life was limited to a few trees and the neighbors that weren’t too far to walk to, he began devouring books as a method of wandering the far worlds.

In his teen years, he joined an online writing club to impress a girl but found to his surprise that he enjoyed it, and his grades in English began to increase.

In college, he used the written word to escape from the stresses of the day and crafted a handful of stories.

Years passed as he took various jobs, including being an auctioneer, a short haul driver, a teacher, and a construction worker, but all the while he continued to write as a catharsis. Although he submitted some works, his pride kept him from taking others advice.

That was, until his wife picked up a manuscript, and said one of the most important sentences he had ever heard from a reader.

“The introduction makes no sense.”

After swallowing his pride, he took her advice in earnest and promised himself that he would stop letting his belief in perfection cloud his judgment.

Two years later, his first completed novel found a publisher and thus began his professional writing career.


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