Writing for Battle, with Lucian Dalca

Lucian Dalca is a hard man to pin down for an interview. Despite being one of the most eligible bachelors in the Seattle area, little is known beyond his quiet, yet substantial, philanthropic benefaction. I couldn’t even find a picture online. A friend of a friend clued me into his interest in collecting antique weapons and knowledge about military tactics. After some begging and bribery, Lucian agreed to meet on two conditions: our rendezvous would be scheduled after eight in the evening, and would take place at a bar in Seattle called Libations. I didn’t fight the suggestions. The bar is known for a solid menu, crafted mixed drinks, and high-end scotch.

I lost my capacity for the English language when Lucian walked through the door. He isn’t a tall man, but he has a regal bearing. Who am I kidding? The guy is HOT. Smoking hot. Scorching. A strong jawline, scruffy raven hair, and ice blue eyes that would pierce through armor. The designer suit tailored to perfection didn’t hurt, either.

It was fortunate I only had to nod that I would follow him up to the second level of Libations normally reserved for private parties. For a Tuesday the bar was crowded, and I was glad of the cozy space. I must have spent five minutes watching him cradle the neat Lagavulin in his hand before snapping out of it. Fortunately, he was busy staring into the gas fireplace.

“It is not quite the same as a wood fire, but pleasant all the same.”

“Yes. Warm.” I cleared my throat and attempted to craft sentences. “I hear you’re a bit of a weapons expert?” Lucian turned to me with a sharp gaze. The reaction was a surprise. “My friend mentioned you collect antiques.”

The dazzling smile that graced his face knocked me back where I started. Speechless. He took a sip before answering. “Yes. I have a collection of swords from several different civilizations. One of my most prized possessions is a Dacian sica from the tenth century, although the scabbard is in far better shape than the blade. I have older weapons, but some pieces speak to me more than others.” He took another sip and eyed the fruity drink in my hand, complete with umbrella. “What is your interest in weapons?”

“I’m a writer. I want to craft a believable battle scene that takes place in the 1600s.”

“Early or late 1600s?”

“Early. I’d like more swords and less guns.”

The fire played over the planes of his face in a way that was distracting. I had never been in the company of someone so stunning. He turned the glass in his hand, staring into the amber liquid. “What would you like to discuss?”

“I would like to focus on the technology for that time period in Eastern Europe.”

Lucian cleared his throat. “Well, there were cannons in the 1600s and flintlock accuracy improved after 1650. If you are focusing on the early 1600s, there were guns, but the primary use was pistols at close range. It was common to keep two at the ready in a belt, but it took time to fire and the accuracy was deplorable. Reloading in close combat was out of the question. Swords and battle axes still played a huge role, and boys had a sword in hand from a young age to ensure they had the necessary skills later in life if they ever found themselves in battle.

“Plate armour could generally stave off a pistol ball fired from a distance, but it made it difficult to move. The cavalry played an important part still. The expansion of armies made decimating the local villages more common. Villages had farms and stores to support their population through a long winter. A large army moving through could mean starvation, or worse.”

Laugher carried up from downstairs and distracted Lucian. “Am I boring you? I feel like facts presented this way paints an inaccurate picture. Besides, all of this can be found online.”

“This is good information! I want to make sure my scenes don’t incorporate weapons from the wrong time period.”

He snorted. “Accuracy only gets you so far, and few people care about who made the gun or even what it looked like.” He leaned forward in his seat. “Do you want to know what is important?”

I nodded so vigorously my brain shook.

“The senses of your character. What is he seeing, hearing, and feeling in the middle of this battle?”

“Or she.”

“In the 1600s?” Lucian laughed. He stopped when he took in my expression and rolled his eyes. “All right. Fine.” He set down his drink and gestured with his hands. “The smells are overwhelming. Some battles are so bloody, the earth becomes slick. The metallic sting of blood, the thick stench of gunpowder. Boots digging in for purchase and hooves churning the earth kick up the musty smell of dirt.”

He shuddered. “The sounds may be the worst of it all. The crash of metal against metal. Not only are men yelling and screaming as they are injured, but there are the unearthly wails of horses and boom of cannons that shake the earth. Cannon balls scream through the air and crash into the ground, tearing into groups of men.”

I interrupted him with the rattle of my straw as I hit the bottom of my drink. “Sorry. I got caught up in the moment. It’s like you were there.”

He laughed. “Do I look that old?”

“Not at all.” Not a day over thirty-five, but something in his eyes spooked me.

“The five senses are critical, but what men remember long after battle is how time slows down. The feel of your own heartbeat in your ears and throat. The all encompassing fear that sticks to you like a stink as you stand in formation, and charging forward to clash against opponents despite it. The men with the advantage have a solid foundation with weapons training, but even the best trained soldier will fail if they cannot see past their own fear.” He drained his glass. “All men feel fear, but those who can persevere and keep a clear head despite it will triumph.” He stood and straightened his jacket.

“You’re leaving so soon?”

His beautiful eyes cut right through me. “I have an obligation to attend to.” He turned towards the stairs, paused, and turned back. “Always remember to provide motivation. No man fights without a reason. They may be occupied during battle, but before and after, the focus is always on who they love, owe, or hate.”

“How can you possibly know all of that?” I tried to stand but my legs shook. I decided I would be better off waiting for Lucian to leave before finishing my notes and stumbling down the stairs to get a second drink.

“How is not important, otherwise writers such as yourself would have no hope of inspiring feeling in others as they read your work. Let us hope your imagination is vibrant.” The way he moved down those stairs was like liquid grace.


Lucian Dalca is a character in All the Pretty Bones, a supernatural vampire thriller by Camela Thompson. This was the first in a monthly series of posts highlighting authors whose work we admire. While Lucian is fictional (we happen to be pretty broken up over this fact), the information he conveys in this post is crucial for any author writing authentic fight scenes. We hope you’ll take Lucian’s advice the next time you have a battle scene in your manuscript.

All the Pretty Bones is Camela Thompson’s debut novel and one of the best paranormal thrillers on the market today (in our opinion).

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Camela can be found all over social media, and we suggest you follow her now, so you’ll be one of the first to hear news about the second book in the Hunted series, Blood, Spirit, and Bone. It’ll be out soon. We were lucky enough to receive an advanced copy and we think it’s every bit as scary, thrilling, and haunted as the first.

Cami

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