By Boston Woodard
Prisoner writers run the gamut. Whether it is poetry, fiction, nonfiction, screenplays or other writing genres, many of these men and women take their literary efforts seriously. I have been writing behind bars for more than 20 years. I have edited and or written for several prison newspapers. My articles have appeared in numerous outside publications and my first published book, Inside the Broken California Prison System, depicts the crisis within California’s prison system. My second book, Prison: The Ins & Outs, was co-written with longtime prisoners’ rights advocate Maria Telesco and is expected to be published in 2015.
During my involvement with writing in prison, I have had the privilege of meeting or associating with many prison writers, each with his own style and ability. Although I am strictly a nonfiction writer, the fiction writer has always intrigued me. The imagination, plotting, scheming, planning, sculpting characters such as evil villains and scoundrels or heroes, and detailing scenes and episodes amaze me.
I recently met one such prisoner fiction writer/author whose work not only impressed me but also allowed me the opportunity to look at the art of prison writing in a completely different light. That writer is G.A. Lycett, author of Dragon Twined, book one of Servants of the Word. Lycett has been reading fantasy books since junior high school. The more he read, the more he felt many of the books “weren’t really that good.” As a result, he set out to do something about it. In 2001, Lycett decided to try his hand at his own style of fiction writing.
Although he was not that serious about it at first, Lycett began to enjoy the freedom of fiction writing. A fan of authors Orson Scott Card and J.R.R. Tolkien, Lycett said he loosely based Servants of the Word on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, drawing on ancient cultures to bring realism to his story.
“I gained a greater appreciation of the fiction world and how to write a quality story by paying attention to those authors who inspire me by example,” said Lycett. “Making sure the story remains exciting and interesting through to the end is of paramount importance to me.”
When asked what writing means to him in an insidious setting such as prison, his response was that “I enjoy writing because, when I’m really involved in the story, the prison walls seem to disappear.”
Lycett said he clearly sees the action in his mind as he writes, and “it’s sometimes a struggle to keep up. There are times when it gets so exciting that my adrenalin gets pumping, I lose track of time.” These are the times when he feels all the struggles are worth the effort, strengthening his resolve, allowing him to delve deeper into a fantasy world he so loves writing about.
Lycett began writing Dragon Twined not knowing where the story was going. Three or four chapters into his effort, Lycett said, “Something clicked in my mind and the story took off. The action scenes are riveting, and the characterizations and scenes are well developed. [Dragon Twined] is written in a style similar to Harry Potter; the sequel should be eagerly awaited by readers.” The protagonist, Corim, who is thrust into a major conflict between good and evil, is an extremely likable character. Conflicts like this maintain the reader’s interest throughout Dragon Twined.
According to a critique of Dragon Twined by Eaton Literacy Agency Vice President Richard Lawrence, “Lycett has written a sweeping novel about good versus evil that I feel should attract a wide readership.”
Lycett is extremely proud of Dragon Twined and its follow-up books in the trilogy, Dragon’s Call and Dragons’ War. He is expected to continue with Servants of the Word, a series he is proud of and for which he is ready to tell the ongoing fictional saga in book two. All illustrations are by Lycett.
Today, Lycett works as a teacher’s aide tutoring students in the language arts, grammar, and essays, to prepare them to take the GED. Lycett said, “I love seeing them pass the GED test to improve their writing and life skills.” He believes this will break the cycle of coming in and out of the prison system. This is his way of giving back. “My goal is to give fellow inmates the tools they need to succeed, and even excel, on parole,” said Lycett. “This is a way I can help others to break the vicious cycle of returning to prison.”
Dragon Twined is currently available at www.amazon.com as an e-book for the Kindle. Comments regarding Lycett’s writings are appreciated and can be logged while viewing Dragon Twined on Amazon’s Web site.
Boston Woodard is a prisoner and author of Inside The Broken California Prison System (amazon.com). He is a freelance writer and contributor to the Community Alliance since 2005. Boston has coauthored a new book PRISON: The Ins and Outs (to be published soon) with longtime prisoner advocate and journalist Maria Telesco.