I am so SUPER excited to be apart of the Blog Tour for Looking for Dei by David A. Willson. David took some time to answer a couple of questions for me. I enjoyed his replies. Thanks so much David. Many of you will be shocked about his answer to authors he didn’t like at first.
Also, he is giving away a Kindle Fire you all, ENTER the giveaway attached
Looking for Dei
David A. Willson
Publication date: March 23rd 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never liked secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift.
A gifted youth has not been announced in the poor village of Dimmitt for decades. When Nara uncovers the reason, she uses her own powers to make things right. The decision sets her on a path of danger, discovery, and a search for the divine. In the process, she learns the truth about herself and uncovers the biggest secret of all: the power of broken people.
💻 Interview 💻
1. What kind of research did you do when writing Looking for Dei and how long did you spend researching before you began writing this book?
I researched a number of things for this book, some in advance, but others as I went along. The research was sporadic, and I don’t know how much time I spent, much of it in the two years leading up to writing the first chapter. I learned about nordic runes, hebrew gematria, warhorses, metalwork, coral reefs, and petrified bone. I researched weather, the geography of Alaska, and medieval systems of government. Google has been my friend, for sure.
2. What did you edit out of Looking for Dei?
I edited out a whole bunch. The prologue initially had twenty-five pages of world building and was atrocious. Interesting, but atrocious. It would have bored my readers to death. It provided me an opportunity to document much of the magic system, the religion, and some of the political shenanigans, but did little to invite readers in. On the advice of a wise friend, I boiled it down to just a few pages and threw it in the middle of chapter six, replacing the prologue with a two-page kidnapping scene. It was a great choice (thank you, Mike.)
The first whole chapter I wrote contained an extensive siege scene, with some military strategy, but was eventually shortened to about half the original size and put in the middle of the book. I thought it was fantastic (or I wouldn’t have written it), but it didn’t serve the plot line in any substantive way, and delayed the delivery of the main point of that chapter: introducing General Cross’ and giving him direction that served the story.
It’s easy to get sidetracked with the joy of writing scenes and crafting experiences but in the end, an author needs to deliver a story. Too many tangents water down the reader’s experience and need to be trimmed. So I deleted all that awesome stuff, cried a little, drank some coffee, and moved on.
3. How did you select the names of the characters for this book?
I wanted simple names, but I wanted names that were different. That’s hard to do, as most simple names are taken. Then my subconscious seemed to take over. Two of the characters have names very similar to someone I hold dear to me, and I didn’t even realize how I had chosen them until the book was written. I wee bit o’ self-discovery, perhaps?
Bylo was based on the desire to illustrate a simple man. A common man, perhaps. While he may have been given an uncommon role, and anything but a simple life, I intended to draw his character as being somewhat mundane. This required a mundane name. Like Tom. Or Bill. Bill became Bylo.
Gwyn was chosen for having one syllable. Simple. I like simple. At work, I often say, ‘less is more.’ Less isn’t more, of course, but simple is often more effective than complex, and I like the ring of the phrase. Also, Gwyn seemed to have an anachronistic feel to it. Is anyone named Gwyn anymore? Gwen maybe, but Gwyn? Maybe Gwyneth, but she’s a statistical outlier. Outliers don’t count.
The name Vorick had a sharp feel to it, fitting the style of his magic. Cross has a religious connotation, for a very non-religious man, and I liked the contrast. It also means angry, which is fitting.
The rest may have been just random stuff, or there may have been a reason produced by my subconscious. I asked my subconscious, but it’s remaining silent for now, so sorry, that’s all I have on the matter.
4. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Princess Bride. Best. Book. Ever. Made me think differently about stories, period. Let me explain. No, there is too much. I’ll sum up.
It’s hard to say how this book changed my views on fiction because I first read it in sixth grade. It was a formative time, and it probably didn’t as much change my views as craft them in the first place. I liked everything about the book, but what I liked most about the Princess Bride were the highs and lows, including Westley’s death and rebirth, and the back and forth tension of the sword fight on the cliffs of insanity. The way Goldman plays with the reader’s emotions was masterful, creating a very intense experience. And I loved the irony. The whimsical nature of Westley’s torture as administered by the Count stands out as one of these unexpected, flavorful, horrible moments. Goldman wrote in a style that created a see-saw of tension that kept me on the edge of my seat and which is hard to find in literature nowadays. It’s difficult to write this way, to plant seeds that grow through the course of the story to become big surprises later on, or to write action with this sort of alternating expectation, but it works well for me as a reader and I’ve tried to emulate some of that as a writer.
5: David, what authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
Stephen R. Donaldson shocked me at first. The sexual assault scene at the beginning of Lord Foul’s Bane repelled me and I almost DNF’d the book. But it was believable, if not endearing. The protagonist became a real person in my mind, albeit a badly broken one. His suffering played out before and after the horrible scene, and was a salient part of my journey as a writer long before I had penned a single word. It was one of many experiences in life that guided me to the conclusion that everyone is valuable, even the villains. Some have simply suffered more than others, so much so that they are badly broken, and when they experience further pain, tend to spread it around a bit. We all do that to a certain extent. Nobody says kinds words immediately after stubbing their toe, for example. Take that to the extreme levels of abuse some have suffered, and it’s no surprise that the pain affects others around them.
I also wasn’t a big fan of JK Rowling at first. I think it was the magic system in the world of Harry Potter. It makes no sense, follows no rules, and I like to understand things that follow rules. And quidditch. Again, it makes no sense. Creative, for sure, but heck, why doesn’t everyone just go after the snitch since every game seems to end with its capture anyway? After a while, I came to appreciate the simple, effective writing, great character development and profoundly different world that she had crafted. The world building is so unique that it stands apart from anything else in the genre and invites every child (or inner child for us old people) to imagine having attended a very different sort of school. Magical animals, funny ghosts, wow. What a world. Rowling won me over in the long game, and it was a bit of a surprise for me.
David thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.
David A. Willson has worked as a restauranteur, peace officer, and now, author. Taught by his mother to read at a young age, he spent his childhood exploring magic, spaceships, and other dimensions. In his writing, he strives to bring those worlds to his readers.
Much of his material is inspired by the “Great Land” of Alaska, which he has called home for over 30 years. He lives there with his wife, five children, and 2 dogs. He is passionate about technology, faith, and fiction—not necessarily in that order.
Looking for Dei is Willson’s debut novel, set in a land where many more adventures will take place. Stay up to date with his ongoing efforts through the Looking for Dei Facebook page or visiting the website at davidawillson.com.