And we’re back! The second edition of the Indie Author Spotlight is in full swing and it is coming at you like the blade of a Traveler! “What the heck is a Traveler?” you may ask. Well, you’re about to find out. This month we’re taking a look at author Will Wight’s Traveler’s Gate Trilogy. With book one of the fantasy series (House of Blades) already out and the second novel (The Crimson Vault) being released in just a few short days, what better time than now!
Come, jump through the gate with me!
I’m always looking for something new in the fantasy genre. One of a kind ideas are hard to come by, yet so refreshing when they do. Upon browsing the Kindle store, I came across Will Wight’s House of Blades. The cover was the first thing that drew me in. It isn’t your typical self-published, obviously photoshopped cover. No, the House of Blades cover is mysterious, eerie, and engaging. I read few reviews and then the synopsis and needless to say, I was sold. Check it out for yourself:
Simon can only watch, helpless, as his family is killed and his friends captured by enemy Travelers — men and women who can summon mystical powers from otherworldly Territories. To top it off, another young man from Simon’s village discovers that he’s a savior prophesied to destroy evil and save the realm.
Prophecy has nothing to say about Simon. He has no special powers, no magical weapons, and no guarantee that he’ll survive. But he sets off anyway, alone, to gain the power he needs to oppose the Travelers and topple their ruthless Overlord. It may not be his destiny, but Simon’s determined to rescue his fellow villagers from certain death.
Because who cares about prophecy, really?
Yes! Something new and highly intriguing at that! I started Will’s novel and continued on until halfway through when I realized something: this is good. This is really good. I emailed Will immediately and, thanks to his humble and generous attitude, set up an interview with him to take place once I finished the book. Will’s quite the jokester — at least I think — which made our email conversations very enjoyable. So, without further yip-yap from me, here’s what the man himself had to say:
Will Wight, the author of the Traveler’s Gate Trilogy, has spent most of his life taming manatees in Florida. He currently lives in Orlando, having recently graduated with his Master’s degree from the University of Central Florida. Now that he’s graduated, he splits his time between writing fantasy novels and noodling for great white sharks. He has no sense of smell.
Max Pfeffer: Hi Will! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for SF Signal’s Indie Author Spotlight!
Will Wight: Honestly, I’m flattered to be here. I’ll do my best to answer your questions with a minimal amount of outright lies.
MP: I have found virtually no information about you, save your website, which still doesn’t explain much other than the fact that you are the “sole survivor of the Incident.” That’s quite a spectacular feat! Will, are you a real person?
WW: There are those who claim that I am, in fact, an ageless artificial construct sent by my unnamable overlords to weaken the defenses of the human race. There are others who claim that I am 23 years old, and recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Master’s degree in Creative Writing. Who can tell which of these theories is correct?
MP: How did you begin writing and what drew you into the genre of fantasy?
WW: My friends and family have told me for years that I should write, and I love to read, so it seemed like a natural path to take. But I have all the self-discipline of a ferret on a sugar rush, so I could never write a story all the way to completion. I decided to major in Creative Writing in college largely because I knew they would force me to finish my short stories. I continued on to grad school for the same reason—because they forced me to write—and it was during the first summer of my graduate classes that I started writing House of Blades. I basically decided, “You know what? It’s been long enough. It’s about time I wrote a novel.” And so I did. I didn’t expect it to be any good, though.
Fantasy is just way more fun than other genres. You can have all the perks of other stories, but with dragons and wizards added on. You like romance? Great, but now the hero and heroine are held apart both by their own self-esteem issues and a seven-headed fire-breathing hydra that asks riddles of its victims. That’s 85% more interesting and 200% cooler.
MP: What made you go the self-publishing route?
WW: Traditional publishing has a lot of advantages, but it’s slow and difficult for new writers. I did quite a bit of research and decided that it would be best to put my work out there as a self-published author first. I could always submit my future work to a publisher, if the self-publishing thing didn’t work out, and in the meantime I’d make a little bit of money…not to mention the fact that somebody might actually enjoy my book.
One of the things that I most appreciate about self-publishing is that it’s very easy to tell if you’re writing what your target audience wants to read. If they want to read it, they buy it and give it a high rating. If they don’t want it, they either don’t buy it at all or they give it a low rating. It’s a very direct relationship between author and reader, and I like having that degree of clear feedback.
Man, there weren’t any jokes in that answer, were there?
MP: Correct me if I’m wrong, but you released your debut novel, House of Blades (The Traveler’s Gate Trilogy Book One) in July, 2013 and in just under two months, you’ve managed to sell over 13,000 copies! Was this something you expected?
WW: It came out on June 1st, actually, and as of the time of this writing I’ve sold about 16,500 copies. That’s roughly ten times the number of sales I was hoping for. I had convinced myself that if I sold 1500 copies by the end of August, then I could survive the semester without finding another job. I had already rationed out the ramen noodles and everything, but the book took off in a way I had never imagined.
MP: While there are a few points of view within House of Blades, the novel mainly tells the tale of the “other boy” – the one who is not prophesied about, yet still wants to make a difference. This, among a few other fantasy tropes turned utterly upside-down, sets the tone for the story and helps to present some fantastic character development. Where did you come up with such a unique idea?
WW: Aren’t we all kind of sick of prophecy by this point? It seems like most fantasy heroes just get jerked around by prophets and prophecy until they’re reduced to little more than tools to fulfill some grand destiny. Plus, they get handed their powers and opportunities on a silver platter, those self-important jerks. Never had to work a day in their lives. Who needs ‘em?
I always admired the characters who fought for their goals even though their victory wasn’t assured by the Fates or whatever. I thought a novel from the point-of-view of that character, who has to work for his powers and isn’t promised success, would be way more interesting.
MP: Book two of The Traveler’s Gate Trilogy – The Crimson Vault – is set to be released by the end of this month. Can you tell us a little bit about the novel?
WW: I can indeed. I’ve been working on The Crimson Vault so much these past two months, it seems to be all I think about anymore. The Crimson Vault picks up a short time after the events of House of Blades, and this time I show a bit more of the conflict between the nation of Damasca and the city-state of Enosh. Simon, Alin, and Leah each have to figure out which side they believe is right, and then decide how far they’re willing to go to win the war.
It’s a lot more about the individual characters than about the overall military strategy, so in that way it’s a lot like House of Blades, but there are several more big battle scenes than in the first book. Also, there are gnomes in this one. So that’s a plus.
MP: Do you have any story plans for after the completion of The Traveler’s Gate?
WW: Absolutely! I’d like to tell this one story in which four siblings get transported to a magical realm filled with talking animals by means of magical furniture. And I’ve got another idea kicking around about a girl with no facial expressions falling in love with a vampire who’s over a hundred years her senior. I feel like I’m really breaking new ground here; these are stories that need to be told.
Seriously, though, I have been developing two story ideas in particular that I’d like to explore. I’m not sure if they’d be trilogies or longer, but they’ve been in my brain for years. And, of course, I’d like to return to the world of The Traveler’s Gate at some point. It’s a big world—too big for a trilogy, really, which is my fault—and I could easily do another three books there.
MP: Aside from writing like a madman, what are you reading these days?
WW: As you know, 98.5% of my time is going straight to writing The Crimson Vault, but I do try to carve out a few minutes here and there to sneak in some reading. Currently, I’m in the middle of Jeff Wheeler’s Scourge of Muirwood, and I recently re-read Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings. Very excited to see a sequel to that in a few months. And if I don’t get a new Dresden Files novel before the end of 2013, I may collapse into a singularity.
MP: In what ways can the SF Signal community support you?
WW: The fantasy readers in this community have already been incredibly supportive to me. In my opinion, they’ve been way better to me than I deserve. To everybody out there who read and enjoyed my book: I’m mentally beaming you a big psychic cake in the flavor of your choice. You deserve it.