Born and raised in Singapore, C.M. Lackner much prefers the indoors where he can escape the festering heat, but not the mosquitoes. He previously worked in corporate investigations and has a degree in International Relations.


Welcome to SPFM, C.M.! Since we already have your bio, describe yourself in three words.

Daydreamer, introverted, and resigned.


Summarize your book, Path of Darkness, using one gif.


If you could recommend three self-published books, which would you choose and why?

The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang. It begins with a plot like a typical shounen manga that promptly proceeds to shatters all your expectations of it and tears your heart out afterwards by exploring the dynamics of an incredibly dysfunctional marriage. Plenty of people have praised it, it won SPFBO 5 and it certainly deserves all of that praise. I will it bring it up again because it just that good.

The Aching God by Mike Shel. The protagonist is an old veteran suffering from PTSD that must once go on another harrowing adventure to the same place that is the source of his nightmares. It first grabbed my attention with the unique protagonist. Most protagonists are young and impressionable and the old veteran is the mentor whose role is to sacrifice himself heroically at the end. Instead, Shel places us in the shoes of veteran and sends us on a dark and harrowing journey. The ambience of the temple they must enter left an impression that still remains till today.

Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke. One of the protagonists grows up in a village that is awfully close to a stone age setting, which made it stand out from the crowd. It combines my favourite tropes to read about – terrifying monsters and dysfunctional families. 


What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part of self-publishing?

My favourite would be the accountability. You are accountable to no one but yourself. You get to set your own pace and your own targets. That does, however, bring me to my least favourite aspect of self-publishing. Being accountable to no one is liberating, but it also means there’s no support. Yes, there are many resources available online for free on how to self-publish, but you will still have to fork out money for an editor and a cover designer. You could do those yourself, of course, but I would not recommend it. 


How do you approach worldbuilding?

Conflict. What are the conflicts that define my world and how do others react to it? If a dark lord was to suddenly assassinate a king and declare himself ruler of the land, how would the rest of the nobility react? How about the countries around the king? Conflict defines the world and in turn the plot. Decide the conflict, build around it, explore the implications and the pieces fall into place. 


How did you know you wanted to write this genre?

Rarely is a story not improved by the inclusion of someone capable of flinging fireballs or talking to animals. Fantasy has always been a genre close to my heart, beginning with my parents reading The Chronicles of Narnia to me a child. It never caught me like science fiction did because it easier for me to imagine that a strange new world awaits just around corner. When I would read books as a child, books set in our world without any magic to it struck me as unimaginative. I did grow out of that, but my love for fantasy never diminished.


What’s your writing ritual/routine like?

I wake up at 6.30am every weekday to squeeze in ninety minutes of writing before work and aim to write at least a thousand words. Having that non-negotiable time limit works to prevent me from getting too distracted. On weekends I let myself sleep in, but I set myself a word limit of at least one thousand five hundred words.


If you could go back in time, what’s one thing you would tell your younger self?

Take it easy in school. I was very grade-focused – then again, most of us are in Singapore – and it came back to bite me when I burnt out in my A’levels. The way people say it, if you do poorly in a national exam here, it is the end for you, but that’s not what happened. Failing an exam, even in a society that places so much emphasis on paper qualifications, is hardly the end of the road. 

If I had done better in my A’levels, would life had been easier or better? Possibility, but I know enough now to say that is never certain. We may make mistakes when traversing down our path, but the path never ends.


What did you want to be when you grew up?

A lawyer. Then I learnt about the hours they worked.


Tell us what lies ahead for you.

More writing! My aim is to become a full-time writer and the only way I will get there is by writing more. I do need to polish my marketing skills as well. It is certainly one aspect of self-publishing that I do not enjoy! 

About Path of Darkness (Memories of Madness #1)

The decree of the Gods is clear: All sorcerers must die.

As a priestess in training, Aelith knows that the only way to be a sorceress is to pray to the God of Sin. Yet when she discovers she is a sorceress without having done such a thing, she must confront the fact that everything she has learnt is a lie.

Forced to flee her home, Aelith encounters a mysterious cabal of sorcerers who proffer a tantalising offer to her: Join them and learn to control the powers bestowed upon her. The alternative is forever living on the run, always under threat of being hunted down and killed. However, their protection bears a heavy cost – murder, treachery and deception.

Forced to choose between the cabal’s shelter and a dangerous life, forever alone, Aelith is forced to choose between atrocity and survival.