Nice to be back in the interviewer’s chair. Got a new interview and subject for you today with Josiah Rosell, a debut combatant to SPFBO. Hope you guys enjoy.
Off-screen: You’re not supposed to say subject.
….. Ahem. Anyway, here’s a link to Josiah’s book!
SPFBO 2020 Interviews
STARTING OFF WITH A BANG
Introduce yourself! An easy question to start off with. Who are you, what do you write?
Hey there! I’m Josiah, aka J.D.L. Rosell, and of all the fantasy races possible, I got stuck with human! Consequently, I write fantasy fiction as a way to cope, which tends toward the epic and heroic, often bleeding into sword & sorcery, dark fantasy, and coming-of-age.
Since I struggle to stay in one series, I have one complete of four, which are in various stages of completeness (but all will, one day, be finished!).
Legend of Tal is my most recent and contains the book I submitted to SPFBO, A King’s Bargain.
The Famine Cycle, an epic heavy on the political intrigue and Greco-Roman mythology/world, is two books into a trilogy, with two associated novellas.
The Everlands is my one complete trilogy, and is a virtual-reality fantasy adventure (LitRPG/Gamelit, you might say).
Lastly, we have The Winter’s War Saga, which is partially on Wattpad and will see the first book complete this year.
Is this your first time in SPFBO?
What book did you enter into this year’s event?
A King’s Bargain, Book 1 of the Legend of Tal series. I pitch it as Name of the Wind meets Witcher, and it holds a lot that fans of classic epic fantasy would love – flawed heroes, legends, elves, monsters, and more.
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
Readers seem to resoundingly agree that Aelyn, a canterkous elven mage, is the best — and I certainly love writing him! But the eponymous protagonist Tal Harrenfel certainly captured my imagination and keeps me going.
It came about right before bed one night a year or two ago when I was thinking about Name of the Wind, one of my favorite books, despite its admittedly many flaws. I was thinking about what I loved about it, like the layered stories within it, as well as what I wanted to fix, and — voila! The idea for Tal came to mind.
It’s essentially this: a man who has been aggrandized by the legend written about him, who has accomplished larger-than-life things, but has become dwarfed by them. And it doesn’t have any flashbacks or nonsense — you only learn about the stories through other characters and what Tal himself says.
Tal’s emotional journey also really resonates me. No, not that he’s claimed to kill demons and mages and steal magic rings — his sense of wanting to do right, but fearing his own demons, and the guilt over failing over and over, no matter his accomplishments. The sense, too, of feeling phony and apart is also familiar.
One last thing is that it felt like a challenge to write a hero like that without making him a Gary Sue, so of course I had to take it on!
What was the inspiration for the story? What are your future project(s)?
Probably best just to see above for that bit! And for my future projects, I’m trying to go heads down on my current series(s) and see if I can’t finish up one or two.
What are the key themes and/or messages in the book?
The central emotional themes are probably:
- Guilt to redemption
- Secret shame to acceptance
- Self-doubt to confidence
I also was aiming for capturing a sense of wonder, invoking a world and cast both wonderful to explore and spend time with, but also grounded in what could feel like reality to us, with consequences for every action.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
Diving deep enough into the stories of the world — that came through many revisions. And then the all-is-lost moment — I almost missed that whole part, and would have if not for my fiancée (who is also my first reader).
What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
Absolutely! Probably over halfway through the first draft of the next book, A Queen’s Command, and it’s currently planned to be a quatrology.
MORE RAMBLES ABOUT WRITING
What is your favorite book you’ve written?
To date, A King’s Bargain. Not only was it a joy to write, but I feel (and others have confirmed, thank goodness) that I executed a well-written, well-paced, and keenly plotted book that was immersive and fun to read.
But every writer knows their best book is the one they haven’t written! So always more to come.
Who are your favorite authors?
In no particular order (and probably missing a ton):
- Robin Hobb
- Joe Abercrombie
- Patrick Rothfuss
- Ursula K LeGuin
- Naomi Novik
- N. K. Jemisin
What makes a good villain?
Complexity, intelligence, and a believable self-rationale for their behavior.
Do you have any writing blogs you recommend?
Hm. Can’t say I so, sorry!
Do you have any writer friends you’d like to give a shoutout to?
Who has friends? I went into this so I wouldn’t have to talk to people!
(But I won’t single anyone out… no hurt feelings that way.)
Did you learn anything from writing your latest book? If so, what was it?
Trust my instincts. And push your characters to do things until they’re almost irredeemable, then bring them back — it’s all the more satisfying.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
I’m an English gardener — overgrown with boundaries.
If you had to give up both snacks and drinks during writing sessions, or music, which would you find more difficult to say goodbye to?
Can’t do music while writing, so that’s an easy choice!
Which is your favourite season to write in, and why?
Spring. I’m happy and productive after the winter gloom, but not distracted like in summer.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
It’s about knowing what they want and what they need. A main character isn’t there unless there was a spark that caught my attention. Then it’s just a matter of adding fuel to the spark until you can understand how and why they’d act in any given situation.
What is your writing process? Do you have one? What is your workspace like?
Write first thing in the morning, every morning, for as long as I can, but usually get 1-2 hours before other obligations.
Probably the strangest thing about my process is that I write a fair amount of my books on my phone! Makes for a good switch-off with the laptop, since I’m a keyboard monkey by day.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Literally anything — books, TV shows, movies, the news, video games. Sometimes nothing at all — one of my books, City of Whispers, originated from a dream.
How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
Too many. Here’s one in the wings (no pun intended):
Dragons returned. They burned cities. Slew armies. Ruined kingdoms. They are unbeatable. And now they’re worshipped as gods.
But the world is changing. Magic is rising from the depths. Old secrets reawakened. And one man has the ambition to reforge the empire that once reigned… using the very enemies who destroyed it.
Do you have any new series planned?
See above! And yes, always yes… too many!
MORE ABOUT YOU
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Hike, bake, take landscape photos, and read.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Photographer — though to be honest, I’m not really cut out for anything other than writing. (Don’t tell the day job boss that though!)
Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?
Coffee! It’s my drug of choice…
You can travel to anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?
Assuming I don’t suffocate or die of hypothermia, I’d go to “the edge” of the universe.
Alternately, I would settle for the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, because of course it exists and why not travel time as well?
Pick any three fiction characters. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
Gandalf, Pippin, and Samwise. We’re not leaving Hobbiton anytime soon, but I bet we’ll have a jolly time!
What superpower would you most like?
Healing. Nothing is worse than being in pain or seeing others in pain.
But, of course, if I were writing someone with that power, I’d make it an ironically painful power to possess. So maybe it depends who’s writing this superhero story!
What are two of your favorite covers of all time? (Not your own.)
For sentimental reasons, the full trilogy set of Lord of the Rings with the Ringwraith on the front. I also have a copy of The Hobbit with this velvety cover that’s delightful.
More recently, Robin Hobb’s 10-year anniversary edition of Assassin’s Apprentice is gorgeous.
If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook?
Robin Hobb, and home-made pizza – I make a good margherita pizza!
Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
Hmm… During my high school years, my ambitions were more to be a musician than a writer. Senior year, I was in choir, two band classes, and three other extra curricular band opportunities.
Then college came, and I was burnt out.
But I think it’s turned out for the best!
It’s a very difficult time right now for the world. When quarantine and pandemic comes to an end, what is the first thing you would like to do?
Get married – if my fiancée and I even wait that long!
Finally, what is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
A good place to find out more about me is my website. If you want to contact me, I monitor my email and Facebook page most closely. But follow along on any of the below!
A King’s Bargain (Amazon and Kindle Unlimited): https://books2read.com/u/3nvdex