Today we’re joined by D. P. Woolliscroft, author of The Wildfire Cycle series. Keep scrolling to read about his inspirations, and thoughts on self-publishing and the power of language.
About the Author
Born in Derby in England, on the day before mid-summers day, David Peter Woolliscroft was very nearly magical. If only his dear old mum could have held on for another day. But magic called out to him over the years, with a many a book being devoured for its arcane properties. David studied Accounting at Cardiff University where numbers weaved their own kind of magic and he has since been a successful business leader in the intervening twenty years.
Adventures have been had. More books devoured and then one day, David had read enough where the ideas he had kept bottled up needed a release valve. And thus, rising out of the self doubt like a phoenix at a clicky keyboard, a writer was born. The Wildfire Cycle is David’s debut series.
He is married to his wife Haneen and has a daughter Liberty, who all live with their mini golden doodle Rosie in Princeton NJ.
David is one of the few crabs to escape the crab pot.
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We already have your official bio, now we want to challenge you to describe yourself in ten words or less…Go!
oh,no, wasted a bunch of words.
Phew, did it.
Who or what are your inspirations when it comes to writing? Is it a particular author or authors, art, history, culture, current events, something else? How have they influenced your work?
What a good question! So many things influence my work. Of course other authors are a big part of it. I’ve had more than thirty years of reading and (some of) that sticks in the brain. You’re probably interested in a few names so here you go; Pratchett, Abercrombie, Michael J Sullivan, Daniel Abraham, Nicholas Eames. Quite a varied bunch, which hopefully is evident in that my style might be different than others, but all of them are really character driven authors. I should probably throw in Steven Erickson too as someone who has inspired me to try to do something really epic.
But I am always getting influenced by history, as well as places that I have traveled to. Ioth was inspired by a family holiday to Venice a few years ago. Much of book three that I am writing now is now influenced by my travels in the US and the early troubled history of what Europe thought of as an undiscovered country, even though millions of people already lived here. And then smaller things sneak into my writing too. I was making meatballs this morning with my wife and I know that when I write tonight that’s exactly what Alana is going to be doing while she is getting to know the people of a new city called Ajiwiak.
What do you love about self-publishing and on the flipside what drives you nuts about it? What aspects of self-publishing do you excel at and in what ways do you struggle?
The flexibility, control and immediacy of self publishing is wonderful. The readers and the blogging community are amazing and I am constantly thankful for the support they have lent me. The ability to be able to set my own timelines and full creative control is wonderful.
The main challenge is what you probably hear from other indie authors; being able to get your book in front of readers. Any time spent marketing is time that I am not writing and so I’m constantly having to choose (writing usually wins). And when you’re writing a long series you only have one entry book to pitch to potential readers. I do think I am currently facing the challenge that Kingshold is a political-adventure fantasy, and given the current climate around the world people might have had enough of politics and therefore might pass it up, even if the series overall would really appeal. But that is the only book 1 I have to pitch right now. But I do think that after I get the Wildfire Cycle wrapped up then I will do a couple of stand alones before venturing into another series.
What aspects of self-publishing do you excel at and in what ways do you struggle?
I am good at the slow steady art of production. I plot a lot, so I don’t get writers block. I’m constantly figuring out plot points as I am doing other things and then able to incorporate them into my writing plan. And (usually) I’m really good about making sure I put my bum in the seat and write something every day. Where do I struggle? Social media outside of twitter (and that has even be a struggle the past few months). Again because of time, I don’t have the capacity engage on Facebook, or Pinterest, or write guest blog posts or do more newsletters. All of which would have a really good return. But I’ve made peace that I can’t do everything at once.
What does your daily writing process look like? What do you do to get in the writing zone? How many hours do you write or do you go for a word count? Do you have a set writing schedule? Tell us everything!
I try to write every day and I’m aiming for a minimum thousand words (and hoping for more). I work full time in a job which is probably 50 to 65 hours a week and then I have a family too. So it doesn’t leave a whole lot of other time for writing. That’s why I typically look to get up at 6am, make coffee, meditate for a little while and then try to get my writing in before everyone wakes up. And then I’ll usually make some time right at the end of the day, after 10.30pm. It’s been more difficult during COVID as work has been busier and of course dealing with all of the family struggles associated with a lockdown. But writing is usually the part of the day that I look forward to most.
Unless I’m editing, then I have to force myself a bit more.
What do you think makes a good story?
This is such a difficult question to answer! I like stories with a message and deep characters that I can associate with. But then I also like stories that are just wild rides with big explosions and dragons. So I don’t think there is any one formula that makes a good story. Which is not really very helpful as it relates to the question, but I do prefer it when there is something new that is going to keep me interested.
When did you first learn that language had power?
Another good question that got me thinking. Two things come to mind here.
First as I started to go deeper in understanding history than what we are taught in school or what is the common understanding, then you realize the power in the words written by the winner. It still continues to astound and horrify me how much we are kept in the dark about the real events that have led us to where we are in the world today. And I’m talking about conspiracy theories or claptrap like the deep state or Qanon. I’m talking about the unheard stories of the majority of people throughout history. For example, maybe you watched the HBO series Watchmen? Had you ever heard about the Tulsa massacre? I remember watching that opening sequence and then being astounded that it was something that really happened. I also find I discover these variations to my known history as I meet people. Being British, I often meet people from around the world where Great Britain had an outsized role in their country’s history. Their point of view is often very different from what I have been made aware of, so I’m constantly looking to learn.
The second example for me was reading The Discworld novels, especially once Sir Terry found his groove. His ability to shine a light on real world issues through both fantasy and satire was genius. I can’t be the only one where this helped think about things differently. I think that can be a really amazing thing about fantasy, how, with care, it can touch on important topics but in secondary worlds where the reader will likely not have the same predispositions that they would to a story in our world.
Are you a reader, and if so, which book inspired you?
If we make it very specific about what actually inspired me to start writing, then it was the Riyria series by MJS. First of the story is great, one of the best fantasy buddy story I have read. But it was his story of how he started out self publishing that introduced this world to me. You see, I was doubly afflicted as to why I didn’t write before. I lacked confidence and I didn’t have the emotional energy to try to go through the traditional publishing process of pitches, agents etc. Hearing Michael’s story removed one of those afflictions.
If you’re interested, it was age that removed the other one; realizing that I’d better give it a try if I didn’t want to have too many regrets later in life. For any other aspiring authors out there I would not recommend waiting so long…
Do current events affect your writing, or do you try and keep life and your stories separate?
I’m a writer living in the world, so I don’t know how current events can’t impact what you write. Sometimes it’s small stuff (see meatballs above) and other times it’s a story idea. I am interested in Artifical Intelligence and thinking about how that is going to impact the world of the future, especially our economies and the people that work in them. That thinking inspired a story in Tales of Kingshold called The Working Dead about what happened if the undead (the fantasy equivalent of AI) were put to work, requiring no pay or food or time to rest, and what would that do to the jobs of normal people.
If you could have dinner with any three figures from fiction, who would they be and why?
There is definitely part of me which would love to see Gandalf, Bayaz and Belgareth all around the same table. But I think I would be largely left out of the conversation and I’d prefer this night to be fun. So instead I’d invite for Corporal Nobby, Tom Bombadil, Polgara, Moog, Hadrian. Yes, I know that’s five but what if someone can’t make it?