I have another Spotlight Interview for you today with author David Michael Williams and his sword-and-sorcery fantasy series called Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, Martyrs and Monsters. I hope you enjoy our interview!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I have a healthy (some might say “overactive”) imagination and have always gravitated toward creative pursuits. Career-wise, I’ve been a teacher, journalist, columnist, PR professional, project manager and marketing specialist. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to write for a living. Last year, I formed an independent publishing company to get my stories out into the world.
What inspired you to write?
I fell in love with the fantasy genre before I even know it was a genre. Video games and books inspired me to create my own world. I sketched, I daydreamed, and I even playacted scenes using LEGO minifigs. Then I started chronicling those battles in written form. Eventually, I decided I wanted other people to enjoy my stories too, so I took the plunge and drafted my first novel, Rebels and Fools.
What is the genre?
The Renegade Chronicles—comprised of Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, and Martyrs and Monsters—is classic sword-and-sorcery fantasy. The focus is on action and adventure.
How did you develop your plot and your characters?
The Renegade Chronicles came about somewhat organically. I had been writing scenes for my world, Altaerra, for many years, so when it came time to transform the meandering storylines into a series, I had to pick a point in time to serve as “the beginning.” Instead of cobbling together a narrative from existing scenes, I went farther back in time to focus on some of my central characters and come up with a true origin story.
Much of the heavy lifting had been done, in terms of world building, but it was a true joy to explore new locations, discover new characters (and old characters anew), and write the tale that would serve as the foundation for so many future adventures.
What inspired your protagonist?
I feature a handful of protagonists throughout The Renegade Chronicles, and each has his or her unique motivations. Klye Tristan, a Renegade Leader, wants to atone for his past crimes and find meaning in his life through heroics, while Saerylton “Colt” Crystalus, a young but high-ranking Knight of Superius, feels unqualified for his command and must, at times, choose between rigid rules and his conscience. Then there’s Opal, who searches for clues about her past while trying to decide what—and who—is important to her in the present.
How did you get in touch with your inner villain?
I love writing villains, and truth be told, identifying “the bad guys” in The Renegade Chronicles can be difficult to identify. Are they the rebels who undermine the new peace treaty or the Knights charged with defending it—the good and the bad? Even the foreign invaders who declare war on the Content United believe their cause is just.
In my books, the villains see themselves as heroes, which means readers get to step inside the minds of some very interesting people. As with any character, I first determine what is important to them and what lines they are willing to cross to achieve their goals.
What was the hardest part to write in the book?
Death scenes are difficult. To maintain tension throughout the series—and to keep a story about battles and war remotely realistic—characters must die. But neither do I dispatch characters willy-nilly. I had tears in my eyes when the first major character perished in Rebels and Fools. Choosing who will live to see the end—and whose sacrifices will make that ending possible—is seldom easy.
What was your favourite part of your book to write?
I have an awful lot of fun writing dialogue, and because The Renegade Chronicles focuses on groups of people with very little in common, conversations can take unexpected, and often humorous, turns.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? If part-time, what do you do besides write?
I write fiction part time, but even my “day job” as a content specialist at an advertising agency affords me the opportunity to write scripts, brochures, websites, and so forth.
What are you currently reading?
Recently, I’ve enjoyed a resurgent interest in graphic novels, from Robert Kirkman’s Invincible and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to older Marvel compilations, such as Squadron Supreme and Doctor Strange. Right now, I’m reading Avengers comics from the 1970s.
My wife and I are also reading Lev Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy together.
Who would you say are your favourite authors?
A few of my favorite fantasy authors are Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, R.A. Salvatore, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, and J.R.R. Tolkien, the founder of the fantasy genre. When it comes to classical literature, I’m a big fan of William Faulkner.
How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
Wow, what a difficult question to answer! I’ll give it a shot…
- Absolom, Absolom! by William Faulkner
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- Dragons of Summer Flame by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
- World War Z by Max Brooks
What are your future projects, if any?
In addition to The Renegade Chronicles, I’ve been working on a science fiction series called The Soul Sleep Cycle. The first two books (If Souls Can Sleep and If Sin Dwells Deep) are under editorial consideration at a traditional publishing company, and I’m on the verge of starting the first draft of Book 3, If Dreams Can Die.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
I can be reached via my website as well as social media:
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I include writing tips on my website (david-michael-williams.com), mostly lessons I’ve learned along the way.
One thing I will say is I’m glad print-on-demand publishing was not available when I was in my early twenties. Self-publishing almost makes it too easy to put one’s work out there, and I’ve seen plenty of examples of writers publishing before they are ready; I’m afraid I would have been among them.
If I had published The Renegade Chronicles before 2016, the series would have been an inferior product, and I wouldn’t have had a clue about marketing. So my advice to young writers is to wait until you’re prepared to treat your fiction like a business before self-publishing.
Wonderful answers! Thank you to David Michael Williams for allowing me the chance interview him. If you’re a sword-and-sorcery fan, I recommend that you definitely check out his books!
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