Book Critic Dave. How have you been since the release of Ajiwiak?
DPW: Hi FBC! Thanks for having me. I’ve been good thanks,
though it has been a little while since I released Ajiwiak at the end of 2021.
In fact, last year was the first year since 2018 when I didn’t release a new
book! My family and I moved to California from New Jersey in 2021 and that has
been a big change, so I guess I’ve spent less time writing and more time
getting acclimated to the west coast.
Q] What was the main inspiration for Exiles of Stone and
Shadow? Where did the idea come from and what compelled you to see it
through to the end?
Ooh, good question. Exiles (for short) was born out of
some of my most beloved characters from the Wildfire Cycle, which very
deliberately, is definitely not a coming-of-age story. But I knew there was a
great adventure story there of how the younger versions of these characters
took their first steps toward their futures and I wanted to tell that.
That’s the creative answer to your question, but there is also
the business reason too. The Wildfire Cycle is currently three really chunky
books (with another to come to finish the series) and asking readers to commit
to something so substantial for an author they may not know is a hard sell. So,
I really wanted to be able to have a standalone novel for new readers to be
able to pick up and see if they like my stuff, and hopefully, if they do they
will want continue on to the longer series.
And for my existing readers, they’ll get more of three of their
Stone and Shadow. Please tell us how you and your cover designer worked
together to create it?
cover designer for this book. The map that makes most of the cover is actually
an excerpt from the map of Kingshold that I commissioned the mighty Tom Parker
to do for the combined edition of the Kingshold book. I just love his
work so much that I wanted to really feature it on the cover of a book, and
this was the perfect opportunity given that the city and its underbelly is so
central to the novel.
then the typography is all me improving my photoshop skills!
Q] Let’s talk about Exiles of Stone and Shadow, a
lot of authors have a harder time writing a sequel series after their debut
series? How was the experience for you? This is still set in the same world but
is a standalone. How difficult was it as compared to your debut?
DPW: Writing my debut was much harder than
any book since because when I first started writing I was wracked with self-doubt
and certain it was only ever going to be something that I would read.
Confidence that I could do this came from beta readers and then the first few
bloggers that read Kingshold. Since then, whether I have been working on
a sequel, or on Exiles, the process I follow of plotting, writing, editing
and getting feedback has been pretty consistent and helps me work through the
creative process. The biggest challenge I have had lately is getting enough
time to write! But I do have a backlog ideas in a bunch of notebooks that I need to address
in the future.
Q] Can you tell us about
some of the story’s major characters?
DPW: Sure! First of you’ll
meet Sharavin and her friend Trypp. They are both extractors (read burglars)
for a shadowy crime family called the Twilight Exiles.
Then there is Florian, a
troubled young ex-soldier who is haunted by some bad things he did in his past,
until he is given an even more terrible mission. Babysitting Motega, the
teenage ward of a feared wizard.
Q] So for someone who hasn’t read any of your novels, how would
you describe the type of stories that you write, what would be your pitch
for Exiles of Stone and Shadow?
My stories are a big on character, always being multi POV with a clear voice.
There’s action, a healthy dose of humor sprinkled throughout and the types of
internal struggles that you as a reader might recognize. If you’re looking for
protagonists who are perfect and confident, then you’re probably not looking
for my books.
Another way to answer this question
would be to say that Joe Abercrombie and Terry Pratchett are two of my primary
Shadow and what should they be looking forward to according to you?
At the heart of it all, Exiles is a story of friendship. Friendships
forming, blossoming and being torn apart. There’s a murder mystery. A crime
family turf war. Heists. And the most clearly defined criminal career path that
you’ve read in fantasy.
Q] Exiles Of Stone And Shadow is a standalone, right? What are you
planning to write next (another standalone, a new series)?
Yes. This is a standalone. But there could be another story to come in the
future with at least three of these characters, depending on how this book is
Next though is going either going to
be the fourth and final book of the Wildfire Cycle, or a humorous
fantasy book that is both based on my mum and a pastiche of The Name of the
Or most likely is that I’m going to make
life difficult and work on both at the same time.
Q] In closing, do you
have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?
DPW: I’d just like to thank you again for hosting
me. And say how excited I am that Exiles Of Stone And Shadow is finally seeing the light of day.
I’m going to enter it into the upcoming SPFBO edition (SPFBO9), so keep your
fingers crossed for me 😀
OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB:Life as a thief can be hard, but it helps when you have the largest crime family in the city at your back. That’s why Sharavin and her partner, Trypp, are extractors for the Twilight Exiles. But when family members turn up mutilated on their doorstep, it feels like they are headed for a turf war.
Florian knows a thing or two about war. The deeds he did as a soldier still haunt his dreams. And as if life wasn’t bad enough, he gets coerced into babysitting Motega, the spoiled and neglected teenage ward of an ancient wizard.
Their lives are separate, destined to never meet, until a tug on a single thread brings the four young lives crashing together. A coming of age story of murder, new friendships, and broken bonds.