The Wildfire Cycle series Q&A with D.P. Woolliscroft (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


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Order The Wildfire Cycle: Part I over HERE
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Q) Good morning Dave, welcome to Fantasy Book Critic. How have you been amidst 2020-2021?

DPW: Hi FBC! All things considered, I’ve been pretty good thank you. It’s obviously been a crazy period for everyone but thankfully my family and I have been healthy and we managed to take advantage of the situation to have some good quality time together. Then we made life much more complicated by deciding to move from the east coast to the west coast, so that has definitely been a thing!

I guess the biggest impact of COVID has been to my life as an author. I haven’t had as much time to spend on social media as I used to while I focused on keeping the spirits of my family up and my day job became more demanding, so my daily word count dropped a bit too. But still, I’m very grateful for how we’ve fared.

Q) Tell us about your epic fantasy debut series The Wildfire Cycle & why is it titled as such?

DPW: The Wildfire Cycle is an epic fantasy series that is primarily focused on the evils that can occur from the seemingly petty emotions of self-centeredness and jealousy. Whether it is a Noble scrabbling for power, or an ancient Elven Emperor with far grander designs, there is not much that separates their base motivations. And then against all of this, there is a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds struggling to make the world better, even though the deck is stacked against them. What starts small, turns into something much vaster for our heroes with far reaching consequences.

As to how the series got its name? Kingshold, which is book 1, is about the introduction of a proto democracy and so in one respect it is about how ideas can spread quickly from one place to another like a wildfire. And then, maybe unsurprisingly, there may be an actual wildfire in book 3, Ajiwiak, The Mother Tree.

Q) The first book Kingshold focused on an election within a secondary fantasy world & the sequel focused on its aftermath. This is definitely unique to the epic fantasy genre. What lead to you writing this saga?

DPW: I have wanted to write for a long time and never made the time/had the confidence. But then, a few years ago, after the 2016 elections in the US and the Brexit referendum in the UK, I was noodling on how crazy democracy can be. And I was simultaneously struck with the sad thought that Terry Pratchett(of whom I remain a massive fan) never had the chance to write about democracy in one of his discworld novels, when it would have been so perfectly ripe (can you imagine an election for a new patrician?!?). So it was at that point that I decided that I should try writing it myself. Not like Sir Terry, as there is no way I would be able to do that, but still with a sense of dark humor to the whole thing. And then it all kind of flowed from there, with these characters that I grew to love springing from somewhere inside.

Q) You previously have released two more short story collections and now are releasing brand new editions combining the short stories with the main saga. Can you tell us more about these new fascinating editions?

DPW: Well, I’m glad you brought that up because when I originally started writing the Wildfire Cycle, I had this amazing (so I thought) and original (though don’t @me if someone else has done it too) idea that I would follow each novel with a book of short stories that were all part of the Wildfire Cycle. There would be really important things happening in these short stories that wouldn’t bloat or slowdown the pace of the novels, or might provide more backstory on a character or act as a bridge between the novels. So, I numbered the series Book 1, Book 1.5, Book 2 and Book 2.5 and so on. The only problem is that it’s really difficult to market a series like this to readers! Amazon in particular wouldn’t group everything into one series, and some readers would think they could skip the short stories. But I’ve heard such amazing feedback from those that have been along for the whole ride that they’ve really enjoyed the short stories and this episodic method of storytelling (some have likened it to the individual Marvel movies all coming together with the Avengers) that I still believed in the concept!

So, all that being said, I knew I had two more novels to the series but I could see that the way I was publishing the books was problematic. That meant I was faced with the choice of either carrying on regardless, or changing things up. Unsurprisingly, seeing as I am here talking about the new editions, I chose the latter option! Collected volumes of books 1 and 1.5 and then 2 and 2.5, now with the single word title of the primary location in the books; Kingshold and Ioth.

Back at the beginning of the year I really planned to launch a Kickstarter to introduce the new editions in hardcover format, but life and the move put paid to that being a viable option before I really got going. But I had commissioned a new map of Kingshold by Tom Parkerand Brad Bergman had started redesigning the covers, so I decided to carry on with the plan to publish the new editions. And I really love the new covers and how the hardbacks have turned out.

And for those that are Kindle inclined, I have combined all four books into one Kindle box set which is the perfect way to catch up on the series before Volume 3 comes out.

Q) What’s next in the Wildfire Cycle? How goes your writing for the 3rd volume tentatively titled Ajiwiak?

DPW: It’s done! Volume 3 is called Ajiwiakand includes Ajiwiak, The Mother Tree (Book 3) and Tales of Ajiwiak(Book 3.5). In fact, I’ll have the cover reveal over at the Fantasy Hive next week and then it comes out on December 17th!

Q) You recently also moved to another location within the US. How did the move go, & how are you finding things on the Pacific coast?

DPW: I am really enjoying it, thank you for asking. We’re in Southern California and the sunshine and climate is really quite amazing. I’ve also always wanted to live near the ocean and now I’m just a couple of miles away. Being able to head down to the beach, look out over the waves and see dolphins dancing in the ocean is breathtaking. I have not yet taken up surfing or skateboarding, but who know, maybe I’ll give it go! But as a newbie to this side of the country, if anyone has any recommendations for Cons or other fantasy minded events I should be attending, I would love to hear them.

Q) Thank you for your time Dave. I look forward to these new editions. Any parting words for our readers & your fans?

DPW: Thank you for having me, Mihir! I’m really excited to have these editions out in the world. But I must admit that I am a little nervous too, as these new editions are going to start with zero reviews on Amazon. So as an incentive, for anyone that does me the massive favor of posting a review (a re-used one from before or a new one) against any of these new editions I’ll send them one of these glorious full color postcards of the new map of Kingshold!

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