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“No matter what you tell other people, make sure you tell yourself ‘I am a writer!”

Tales of fantasy and intrigue are incredibly popular in the world of novels, with fandoms being as tenacious as ever. Fantasy has become incredibly saturated with budding authors putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard all across the world, trying their hand at bringing something fresh to the genre.

So when someone creates a world that truly stands out in this area, it’s worth recognising. Rod Duncan, author of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire trilogy, moved to Leicester during his university days to study Mining Geology. Since then, he has also worked in the physics department of the University of Leicester conducting research. He and his wife also ventured to Taiwan to do some voluntary work in which they set up the Bahá’í Office of the Environment for Taiwan. They helped teachers to teach nature awareness to young children. “It was just wonderful,” said Rod. “But the one year turned into three and a half years! It was a tremendous time and we love Taiwan and its people very much.”

When they returned, Rod turned down a slightly different path in his interests, and took up writing. One of the greatest hurdles he faced with expanding upon the myriad of story ideas that he had over his life was his dyslexia. Upon returning to the UK, the invention of the word processor dealt with this problem. Now, Rod utilises quality dictation software to write his work.

Last year saw the release of the final book in his latest trilogy, set in the same Victorianesque, steampunk version of Leicester as seen in The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire. The first trilogy followed the events of a “luddite revolution” to rein in technological advancement. Rod’s latest book The Fugitive and the Vanishing Man, which is also the conclusion to the most recent trilogy The Map of Unknown Things, released in January 2020. The book continues to follow the work of the private investigator and protagonist, Elizabeth Barnabus, who, through her work, gets caught up in the world of the big political players who may not be working in the best interest of the general populace.

Alongside his work as an author, Rod also teaches his expertise to students at De Montfort University as a Creative Writing tutor. The greatest advice he gives his students is to own their identity as a writer. Rod says: “If you’re writing, that’s what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter what other people think; it doesn’t matter if you get a big publishing contract. It’s a valid means of investigating the world and expressing your creativity. No matter what you tell other people, make sure you tell yourself I am a writer. because it is important and it is valid!”