The Lucien Soulban FAQ

I hate bios - it's the only time I have writer's block - but, in a nutshell, I was:
1) Born in Saudi Arabia
2) Lived there for 12 years
3) Went to school in Hell… er… Houston, Texas for 8 years.
4) Moved to Montreal, Quebec and in doing so, found the glove that fit my hand.
5) I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

So instead of those dry boring tidbits, I present the Frequently Asked Questions concerning Lucien Soulban. You know you've been waiting for it! The following questions come from the patient folks who frequent my Live Journal as well as some of the questions I've heard in my lifetime.


Q. Is Lucien Soulban your real name?
A. Yes, and there's actually more to it than that. The men on my father's side of the family were named Shukri or Moussa… the name alternated with each generation or sibling. When I was born, I was destined to be a Moussa Soulban, but my mom refused. She didn't want her son growing up with that burden. Moussa, you see, means Moses (though Moses Soulban would have been a cool name for a writer). Instead, my mother suggested that my two middle names be Moussa Shukri, the names of my grandfather and father. They then gave my grandmother (on my mom's side) the choice for my first name, and she chose either Lucien or Christopher. They opted for Lucien.

Q. That's an interesting name. What does it mean?
A. In full, Lucien Moussa Shukri Soulban translates as Light-bringer (Lucien), Moses (Moussa), Thanks (Shukri), Holy Crosses (Soulban). So my name literally means Light-Bringer Moses Thanks Holy Crosses. I figure that'll get me a few brownie points on entering Heaven.

Q. Did you always know you were going to be a writer? If not, what did you imagine yourself being 'when you grew up?
A. An artist. I thought I wanted to be an artist who had a flair for writing. It wasn't until folks pointed out that I was a decent wordsmith that I changed directions and discovered I was a stronger author than artist.

Q. How did you break into professional writing?
A. Hm… in many ways, I feel like I'm still breaking into professional writing. It started with Ianus Publications. My friend Jean knew about my writing from a small publication he ran called Mordred. He gave me my first writing gig on a book called Playground, a Cyberpunk adventure. After that, I've strived to make positive steps forward in my career. Playground led to White Wolf and a Wraith book called Buried Secrets. That led to Montreal by Night, which in turn begat a series of 25 to 30 books culminating in the limited series Orpheus. Phil Boulle, who I brought into Montreal by Night, gave me my first novel contract with Blood In, Blood Out. Josh Mosqueira, who was another good friend and Montreal by Night alumni, gave me the opportunity to work on my first released videogame called Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War. Richard Dansky, former Wraith developer and a damn good friend, was instrumental in bringing me into Ubisoft for Rainbow Six: Vegas and for helping me find my way around the pro-writing circuits.

Q. What are your best and worst memories about your first paying gig?
A. Actually… I can't say anything negative about the process. The best memory was finally holding the book in my hand and having something to show for my imagination. The worst was knowing that few people would ever see the book. I knew it wasn't a main-stream release, and that kind of sucked. But that was the worst of it.

Q. What are you most proud of having accomplished?
A. So many things. The Orpheus limited series was the crowning achievement of my years writing for White Wolf. As was my novel Blood In, Blood Out. The Dragonlance novel Alien Sea is definitely another, given how much I love the series.

Q. What ultimate goal still eludes you?
A. It hasn't really eluded me so much as I haven't reached there yet. I would love to write for television and movies, but I really want to write for super-hero comics. I also definitely want to write my own novel, but I can squarely point to myself as the reason why I haven't accomplished that yet.

Q. What's your favorite game and why?
A. D20 because D&D was my first introduction into roleplaying and because the system is so open to any style campaign I want to run. For electronic games, I'd have to say the Morrowind series because the environment is huge and the possibilities endless.

Q. If you could travel to any place (all expenses paid) or time (or both) where/when would you go and why?
A. Tough question. For the where… I want to visit Tokyo and Hong Kong, because I love mega-cities and the two cultures fascinate me. I'm enamored with places that are alive and dynamic 24-7. For the when… likely the 1920s. The world was still exotic and full of forbidden and mystical promise. There was a sense of adventure in the deserts of Egypt and the jungles of the Orient. I'm surprised that I'm not into Pulp, given my enjoyment of that era's perceived mystique.

Q. If you could meet anyone (living, dead, or other) who? And why?
A. Martin Luther King, Jr. No doubt. I deeply respect what the man did and who he was, especially looking back on those days with an understanding of where we are in the world now. Why is it we only realize we need men and women of such stature after they're murdered (not counting Nelson Mandela, of course, who is a giant of our age)?

Q. What's your favorite curse word? How often do you use it?
A. Holy shit… and mostly around my friends.

Q. What sound or noise do you like? What sound or noise do you hate?
A. I love the sound of rainfall against the roof of my house or against the window. The one I hate is the buzz of my alarm clock… it isn't the waking up that bothers me, but the jarring drone that sets my nerves on edge. I prefer the clock radio.

Q. If you could attempt any job other than your own, what would you like to do and why?
A. Archeology… I love exploring ancient ruins and dead places. I love feeling like I'm touching history… one degree of separation between me and someone who lived and died centuries ago. Frankly, Indiana Jones is my fantasy life.

Q. What job would you absolutely hate doing?
A. Anything with a set schedule like 9 to 5 jobs. I prefer setting my own schedule and working at different times of the day. I would certainly hate something involving numbers, like accounting.

Q. Did you become a gamer for the fame, the money, or the sex?
A. Trick question! As gamer, you get none of the above. The fame is fleeting and of narrow scope, the money is only when a company remembers to pay you and the sex is something I would hope has nothing to do with my work.

Q. Has writing helped you to connect with others of like mind, or isolated you to the point where you befriend appliances?
A. Writing is normally a solitary process. If anything has helped me connect with others of like mind, it's the internet and the conventions I attend. Still, I have good friends and people I love, who provide me with the social interaction I need. And because my writing is also sometimes based on my hobbies, I can discuss both at the same time with my friends.

Q. What's the best campaign you ever played?
A. A Villains & Vigilantes game run by friends when I attended Bishop's University. It was my first experience playing superheroes, and it was fun.

Q. Does the phrase "Wand of Wonder" still evoke shudders, or have you re-defined it to have erotic meanings?
A. I haven't fiddled with my Wand of Wonder in ages.

Q. In your professional opinion, would the Where is Waldo series be improved more by the addition of vampires, werewolves or chthonic entities?
A. Yes… it would be cool to play "Who Ate Waldo's Spleen" or "Who Devoured Waldo's Sanity."

Q. What drew you to the horror genre?
A. Frankly, it was always a natural fit. I had a dark imagination as a kid and I imagined dark and nasty things.

Q. How tall would you be if you never cut your fingernails?
A. About that much taller than I was before.

Q. What are the top five things you like to put in your mouth?
A. Sigh… that one only gets answered in person.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or superstitious things that you do to get yourself psyched up to write?
A. I take a nap. No seriously. I take a nap or wake up from sleep and try writing immediately while I'm still in that half-way state between conscious and subconscious. Some of my more interesting ideas have emerged from that state. Of course, weird crap comes from there too.

Q. What's your current desktop?
A. A picture of my sister Gracie, my aunt Gilda and me at the beach when I was seven or eight years old.

Q. What is your favorite '8Os cartoon?
A. Transformers!

Q. Who did you want to be when you grew up?
A. Well… me, of course. And possibly Evel Knieval, the motorcycle daredevil.

Q. What is your absolute most favorite horror character (victim or monster) ever?
A. Oooo… good question. Ripley from Alien/Aliens. She was my first exposure to a real female heroine. And of course Aliens are still cool critters.

Q. Do you agree with this statement? "In order to be a writer, you have to be at least a little crazy."
A. Not entirely. I simply think you should have something to say or a story to tell. I think the "crazy writer" shtick is just to build the myth of the writer himself.

Q. What is the airspeed velocity of a swallow?
A. Well… I guess it depends on what I'm swallowing. Some foods have more friction than others.

Q. What the hell took you so long :-)
A. To do this website? I'm easily distra -- oooooo penny!

Q. What English word do you hate the most but still keep using all the time, and why?
A. "Dark" when it doesn't pertain to a state of light. Dark has become this empty qualifier for ambiance, and yet sometimes… it's the only thing that works.

Q. What kind of music do you listen to when you write?
A. Low-key movie scores. There are no lyrics to distract me and they can be moody as hell. Thin Red Line by Hans Zimmer, The Seventh Sign by Jack Nitzsche and Peter Gabriel's Passion are three of my favorite horror albums.

Q. Who is your favorite author?
A. When I was younger, I loved Alan Dean Foster and E.E. Doc Smith. Now, my favorite author is actually non-fiction based… William Dalrymple. He's written several travel books with amazing insight into the history and societies of India (The Age of Kali and City of Djinns) as well as the Middle East (From the Holy Mountain) and Asia (In Xanadu). As for fiction, believe it or not… I enjoy Michael Crichton. I really like how he takes an idea and runs with it. It's the same reason I derive enjoyment from someone like Clive Cussler… a high sense of adventure even though his writing style differs sharply from mine. But then, hey… both men are horribly successful, so who am I to belittle what they do.

Q. What are some of your favorite books?
A. Non-fiction, actually… history books dealing with WWII or the 1900s, or books that deal with a segment of a city's history. I'm researching whatever I can find on Berlin and the Nazi regime… I love books about the siege of Stalingrad and I loved Devil in the White City — about the serial killer operating during the Columbian World Fair in Chicago. I also enjoyed Gangs of New York.

Q. And fiction books?
A. Hm… that's more difficult. I liked the Alienist, and I enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (though there were aspects of that book that drove me nuts). I also loved The Stand, Salem's Lot and Weaveworld… I guess you could say that even with my horror, I love books that have a sense of the epic. It's why apocalyptic stories fascinate me. The only authors to ever have strayed from that and still written stories I truly liked were the masters, King, Barker, Clegg and Straub. Oh… and I highly recommend Weapons of Choice by John Birmingham. It's the first book in a trilogy that involves near-future tech and alternate WWII history. I highly recommend it.

Q. When you're writing, do you start at the beginning and push through to the end, or do you jump around from part to part and then write the various pieces together?
A. While I occasionally jump chapters and sections to write down an idea/dialog I'm afraid of losing, I prefer to push through a book from beginning to end. That way, I build a tempo and pace.

Q. What are your favorite video games?
A. Sandbox-style games… the ones that let me explore a world and not feel hampered by artificial boundaries. In that vein, Morrowind is the true God of full world exploration.

Q. What vice is a sure-fire bribe for you (Reese's peanut butter cups, Irish whiskey, etc etc)?
A. Actually… the prospect of a good conversation over cake or coffee at a restaurant or café is always appealing. That and being flirted with are nebulous, but certain bribes nonetheless.

Q. What is your favorite word?
A. Deadline… because I have a contract, and thus work to do.

Q. What is your least favorite word?
A. Deadline, if I'm close to the date but nowhere close to completion.

Q. What turns you on?
A. Sharing stories and experiences.

Q. What turns you off?
A. Egotism… I hate people who are full of themselves.

Q. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say to you when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
A. Did you have a good time?

Q. What's your favorite drug (manmade, natural, or otherwise)?
A. Natural… chocolate.

Q. What's your natural high?
A. Finishing a project and sending it off on time.

Q. How many times have you had to write a biography?
A. Ugh. At least 15 times.

Q. Do you like hot or cold?
A. Hot outside, cold inside.

Q. What's your favorite interruption?
A. Going out and spending time with friends.

Q. How do you keep your concentration on a long drive?
A. I listen to comedy albums… they keep me laughing and awake.

Q. What's your least favorite interruption?
A. Being interrupted by anything when I'm focused on writing.

Q. Have you ever intentionally hurt someone simply because you could?
A. No. Absolutely not. I abhor cruelty to others just to make one's self feel better.

Q. Have you ever deliberately harmed an animal NOT in self defense?
A. Never… I don't even kill spiders in my house.

Q. Have you ever truly blushed at a compliment that you actually did deserve?
A. All the time. Not that I deserve compliments all the time, simply that those I receive make me feel awkward.

Q. Have you ever cried alone simply because it hurt inside and you didn't know what else to do?
A. I've wanted to, but never have reached that point.

Q. Do you accept that you are loved, unconditionally, by at least one person?
A. Yup, and they know I love them equally.

Q. Do you know and does it matter that you exist?
A. It matters to me, and I hope it matters to some of my friends. But that's the thing about life and afterlife… you'll always exist and the reasons for your existence will always matter.

Q. Was answering that last question difficult?
A. Not at all. My parents raised me with a strong sense of self. Nobody has shaken that self-faith (I have questioned my writing, but never questioned whether or not I matter).


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