Fantasy Writer David Dalglish Chats With The Sci Fi Christian!

July 19, 2012

A couple of months back, my wife, Sarah (editor of The Sci Fi Christian), bought me a Kindle Fire for our anniversary. Immediately, I began to research various science fiction and fantasy authors that offered their novels for free or for very reasonable prices. As my search began, I came across David Dalglish, independent author of now 12 fantasy novels all set in the same world. A few things initially drew me to Dalglish’s work. His first book, Weight of Blood, in his Half-Orc Series, was available for free download. Another thing that pulled me in were the glowing reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads. Finally, I was looking for some dark fantasy with underlying themes of faith, grace, and redemption and David Dalglish’s novels seemed to offer all of the above.

I read through the entire five-book Half-Orc Series within a few weeks and am now currently on his Shadowdance Trilogy. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading his works and look forward to continuing on with his other series’.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing David Dalglish and I hope that you all enjoy what he has to say.

Interviewee: David Dalglish

Interviewer: Max

M: Hi David. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions. I’ve been wanting to interview you for a while now and was pleased when you told me you’d be happy to.

DD: I’m not sure I’m going to be the Holy Grail of interviews here, but I’ll try to keep this interesting. I’ll try to be a nice houseguest.

M: Can you tell me how you first got into writing?

DD: When I was in elementary school I handwrote a lot of stuff, generally bad ripoffs of my favorite video games like Chronotrigger and Final Fantasy. I stopped for awhile, though I kept reading plenty. It wasn’t until my senior year that I took a Creative Writing class that was just fantastic. Every day we had the computer lab reserved, and our assignments were simple: writing something. Anything. Poems, short stories, novels, whatever. So I started cranking out longer and longer stories, which melded into a novel. Come the summer I hadn’t finished, so I kept writing, and for the most part never stopped.

M: Which authors were your first influences?

DD: Would it be too cliché to say Tolkien? Actually, he wasn’t truly an influence at first. I read several of his books, but really, really early in elementary and probably had two-thirds of it go over my head. The biggest influence, and one who I still get compared to, is RA Salvatore. I think I read the Dark Elf Trilogy at least three times my senior year. The other major one was Stephen King. He can tell a completely bewildering, unbelievable tale, and you’ll still go along with it because of how confident and commanding his voice is.

M: What was your first novel about?

DD: The earliest I can remember was called Second Death, where I stole Magus from Chronotrigger and had him sieging some castle for mystical orbs or something. The reason it was called Second Death was because Magus had been killed once and brought back as a lich, but if he was killed a second time it’d be permanent, and all the main heroes were scrambling to obtain the necessary magical doohickies to cut off his head. Hand wrote the sucker in like, the fifth grade. I think I eventually had Magus redeem himself and fight some dragons. Who knows.

M: What made you choose the self-publishing route?

DD: I’ve talked about this before, but it was a combination of giving up, and determination not to miss out on something huge. Based on everything I read, elves and orcs were out. No agent would buy them, no publisher would be interested in them. So when your story’s called The Half-Orcs, well, it’s kind of dead in the water. So I had about three novels just sitting on my hard drive when I bought my wife a Kindle for Christmas. It took maybe a week before we realized just how huge that device, and digital books in general, would end up being. So when my wife found out I could self-publish for free, well…I contacted an artist, paid him as much as I could afford on my Pizza Hut salary, and then edited like a madman before I lost my nerve and wimped out. Uploaded Weight of Blood, kissed goodbye any traditional deal, and hoped for the best.

M: Can you tell me about your first major self-published work, which I believe is The Half-Orc Series?

DD: It’s simultaneously the roughest of my series, the most over the top, and yet the one in which my characters are most emotionally invested. I wanted to really put the ideas of Grace and Redemption to the test. The two main characters start out with nothing. These brothers, they’re thieves, they’re homeless, they get sucked into what is basically the equivalent of a death cult, and worst of all, they’re child murderers. For plenty of people, it makes for unlikable, and unreadable, protagonists. But the two brothers start to separate, each having different influences, different beliefs. One sinks far lower, and one tries everything to rise above it. And then that conflict between two brothers, resulting in the deaths of loved ones, keeps spreading, and spreading, until I’ve sundered kingdoms and even pulled the Gods of the world into it.

M: You have multiple series’ set in the world of Dezrel—the same world that The Half-Orcs takes place—can you offer a glimpse into each series and explain what your readers can expect when jumping into each one?

DD: The Half-Orcs is the big, giant, dark, spell-flinging castle-smashing war. It’s where the vast majority of my characters were first introduced, and it’s easily the focal point for my world’s history.

The Shadowdance Trilogy is much smaller scale. I wanted a much lower presence of magic. Each book takes place in a single city, there’s barely any mention of other races or nations, and the focal point is on one of my most popular characters, an assassin named Haern the Watcher.

The Paladins is my attempt to tell a smaller story, to delve far more into the two major faiths of the world, and follow the paladins Jerico and Darius, two friends whose religious leaders declare war upon another.

The Watcher’s Blade is me trying to have fun. It’s another Haern book, but I’m trying to bridge the time gap between the Half-Orcs and Shadowdance, as well as toss in as many characters as I can from every single series. Lots of assassins, lots of backstabbing and betrayal.

M: What books are you currently working on?

DD: Finishing up the fourth and final book of the Paladins, and then I’ll be moving on back to the second Watcher’s Blade book. After that, onto the sixth and seventh book of the Half-Orcs. Seems I kinda miss those two stupid brothers.

M: Most of your books after The Half-Orcs are in a way, prequel series’. Any plans for a sequel series or two?

DD: The biggest is continuing the Half-Orcs. After that, I’ll take a step back and evaluate what I want to do, see just how the world is shaping up. But I’m trying, really trying, to stop writing prequels and move the dang timeline forward instead of always looking backward.

M: I’ve always been told that when writing, it is important to write what you know. I understand that you are writing fantasy, and as a fairly new fantasy enthusiast, I am fully aware that fantasy characters can, in fact, be quite relatable and multi-dimensional. Do you find that when you are writing, some of your characters display certain aspects of your own personality? Any characters in particular?

DD: So many are aspects of me in some way. Haern is the awesome badass I wish I was, yet as a kid, the kinda bookwormish shy kid I grew up. Harruq, the dumb, joking half-orc, is me when I’m in a good mood around friends. The questions all of the paladins face are ones, in some shape or another, I’ve either pondered over or struggled with. These books are very much me, from the themes to the sense of humor. Even the villains have a seductiveness to them, because they’re saying what the little quiet voice in the back of my head always says when I’m trying to do something right.

M: Your books have been said to be quite dark and gritty, not shying away from the darker side of humanity—which I suppose I can attest to; however, two themes that seem to run deep within your first series and even the Shadowdance Trilogy (which I am currently reading), are those of faith and redemption. How did these themes form for you? Are they aspects of regular life that are important to you?

DD: They’re insanely important to me. Success or fail, I’ve always tried to have characters be more than just caricatures. Good people can do terrible things. Bad people can do good things. How much does intent matter? Is it the effort, or the accomplishment, that decides the worthiness of an act? I guess it boils down to that no matter how horrible I might fail, how terrible I might act, I want to feel like I can still be forgiven for it, whether it be by my family, my friends, or God. But that means forgiving my family and friends in return, no matter how horrible they might fail, how terrible they might act. That’s rarely, if ever, easy. Sometimes my heroes are the strong ones, forgiving and helping others, and sometimes my heroes are the ones failing and reaching up for forgiveness. No matter which series I’m bouncing between, there will probably always be some aspect of that hidden somewhere, if not right out there in the open.

M: What drew you to writing fantasy?

DD: Combination of the escapism and just natural affection toward anything medieval. Swords, armor, castles, magical fireballs. I also played a ton of dungeons and dragons growing up. That probably didn’t help matters.

M: What authors are you influenced by or inspired by at this point?

DD: Obvious to probably anyone who has read my work, Brent Weeks had a massive influence on the Shadowdance Trilogy, and Martin’s Game of Thrones made me take a long hard look at my world, and the shallowness it had in so many areas when it came to history, culture, and the political realm. I’ve taken babysteps to raise my game, if you will. Maybe twenty years from now I won’t feel so uncomfortable being next to them on a bookshelf.

M: Thanks again David!

DD: Thanks for having me, and thanks to any of you who made it this far through the Q&A =)

I hope you will check out David’s books. You can find out more information about David here.

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