Authors in Isolation: Stanley Wheeler

Back with Authors In Isolation! Got a new interview for you guys today with Stanley Wheeler. Come check him out!

First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write? 

I was born at a very young age and have matured only slightly over the years. I grew up in the west working on the family farm as well as at a number of other jobs for which I was not suitable. After completing my undergraduate degree and still finding myself without marketable skills, I went to law school and now work as a prosecuting attorney. 

I do write in multiple genres. I’m currently writing a fantasy series of which the first trilogy is complete. The Tomahawks and Dragon Fire trilogy is a flintlock fantasy/alternate history romp. I’ve written two westerns, a fantasy novel set in my town, and a noir detective novel. My wife wants me to write sequels to the noir novel, but that will have to wait until I complete the new series with a second trilogy.

How do you develop your plots and characters? 

The development of my plots and characters is a super-secret process. It’s so secret that it’s practically unknown even to me. Seriously, that’s partially true. While I attempt to outline the plot and major points of the character arcs, the majority of what actually makes it into the novel occurs during the actual writing process. The decisions the characters make, as well the motivations they began with or have discovered along the way determine the course of the plot and the character development. For example, a Lieutenant Roberts appears in the early chapters of Threading the Rude Eye, the first book in the Tomahawks and Dragon Fire trilogy. I had not anticipated how important this character would be to the way the trilogy developed. The throw-away character became a major character. Sometimes important plot elements arise from difficult circumstances. In a great fight scene between wielders of mysterious power, I had to resolve it a particular way. The way that resolution came into being created new complications and exciting developments—all of which were awesome, but completely unforeseen in the original outline. While writing my novel Smoke, I realized that I had failed to include a character who was extremely important to the plot. Fortunately, writing requires thinking about what’s going to happen chapters down the road, so I was able to bring in the character at the appropriate time. Sometimes the story demands the character. Sometimes the character demands a place in the story.

Tell the world about your current project!

My current project, of which I’ve completed the first trilogy, and have started on the second trilogy, is a fantastic flintlock fantasy/alternate history with dragons, magic, and other creatures set during the American Revolutionary War. The story envisions an American continent with dragons and other interesting creatures. Many events unfolded as they did historically, but there are other elements at play. Lucette, a young French woman, is in possession of a map to a cache of magical power. She is tasked with getting the map to a contact in the new world. Destruction in the form of The Supreme Commander of the kings forces, who is himself possessed of this great magical power, pursues her from her homeland to America. Along the way, Alex, a young man hoping to embark upon a career as a barrister, and two diverse parties of dragon hunters join in the adventure, each pursuing their own ends.

Who would you say is the main character of your latest novel? And tell me a little bit about them!

Alex and Lucette are the main characters. Lucette is motivated to save her own embattled nation by acquiring the power of Cartier’s cache to help the American colonies in their struggle for freedom. She is a beauty already accustomed to the hardships of war. I hear her delightful French accent whenever she speaks. Alex is reluctant to join the cause as he has plans of his own, and he has no sympathy for the revolution. Events thrust Alex into the conflict. The dragon hunters are also prominent and important to the story. Cat and Felgar, the red-haired Irish brother and sister, are joined by Akira and Hugh. The other team consists of Akram, Coronia, Velisha, and Quintus. Additionally, Iago, a little person from Portugal, and Atu, a tattooed giant from the Pacific Islands, become entangled in the search for the cache. They are all interesting characters.

Have you been to any conventions? If so, tell me a little about them!

I had planned to go this year – bad timing.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid. I decided to be a writer when I was ten or eleven years old.

If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

The possibilities are endless, especially if you allow time travel. There are places I’ve been, like France and Mexico, that I would like to go back to, but I would also like to see new places like Japan and Tahiti and New Zealand, as well as the rest of Europe and South America. If I’m forced to choose, I think I would like to go to Normandy for a year and write a novel that takes place in that setting. 

What advice would you give new writers?

Never stop looking critically at your own writing. Be honest with yourself. Even the best writers make mistakes. Mistakes can be corrected, but terrible writing becomes a trial for everyone who has to read it. Give serious thought to the criticism of others, but don’t let it keep you from trying. Audience matters. Not everyone will “get” or enjoy your work—but someone out there might. Even awful writers can make millions.

What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding?

It varies.

What inspires you to write?

Great stories inspire me to write. A story, an idea, an interesting turn of a phrase may spark an entire train of thought that becomes a story, or a part of one.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Simply making time to do it. The rest of it: the planning, thinking, and wrestling for the right words to nail to the page are all fun parts of the task. It is in the doing that the doors to what might be, or what must be, in the story open to reveal the treasures.

What is your routine when writing, if any? If you don’t follow a routine, why not?

I try to write a thousand words at a time. Although I may write more or less, a thousand is my goal. When my head is full and the words are tumbling out without requiring me to stop and research something, I can complete the goal in an hour. At other times, it may take me two hours. So I try to set aside two hours a day for writing.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write in any of your books, and why? 

That question requires some thought. There are so many from which to choose. There are two favorite things that happen while I’m writing. One is when one of those doors to unanticipated treasure opens. That just happened in the chapter I’m currently writing. I love every time that happens. The other thing is a complete immersion in the story, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the time, and the emotions. That happened for most of the book called Smoke—it felt like I was in 1948—it was really a love affair with the setting and the characters. At the moment, I can’t pick any one chapter as my favorite.

Did you learn anything from writing your latest book? If so, what was it?

I learned that I make a lot of typos and that there are still several that sneak by me no matter how many times I proof read it.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?

I think my explanations above show that I’m really a combination of these methods.

If you had to give up either snacks and drinks during writing sessions, or music, which would you find more difficult to say goodbye to?

Provided there isn’t any loud noise, I happily give up all of those things. When the writing is going well, those are all just distractions. I prefer to duel the empty page on my own.

Which is your favorite season to write in, and why? 

Fall. Everything is better in fall.

It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it? 

I’ve learned to get out of their way. The characters have motivations and decisions. They will choose what they want if I stay out of the way and let them pursue their course. They develop as we go, and I understand them better the more time I spend with them.

What are your future project(s)?

I plan to finish the next trilogy to complete the flintlock fantasy/alternate history of the American Revolution – for better or worse. I had planned to take the same world into the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era. I have some short stories bouncing around in my head. I have a sort of flintlock-urban fantasy detective novel pressing to get out, and I may humor my wife and write a sequel to Smoke.

What is your favorite book ever written?

I think my comments above about Smoke demonstrate that it is my favorite so far. However, I have enjoyed writing all my books and have favorite elements in each.

Who are your favorite authors?

I enjoy Shakespeare, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Brandon Sanderson, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Louis L’Amour, Brian McClellan, Alan Dean Foster, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Tony Hillerman, Alexandre Dumas, and J.R.R. Tolkien, to name a few.

What makes a good villain?

Villains are many and varied depending upon the genre, tone, and world of the story, but they must have some streak of evil in them. The villain should be as powerful, or more powerful than the protagonist, and must not be stupid. Villains may make mistakes and be constrained by other events or concerns, but, unless the story is comedic, the villain should not be an idiot. A villain has a goal and pursues that goal, perhaps without mercy. Within those confines, the depth of the villain’s evil streak can vary, how he or she treats others and the means and methods used by him or her may vary.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Hiking, fishing, reading, spending time with family, and tabletop gaming.

If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?

Astronaut or Napoleonic Marshal

Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?

You can travel to anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?

Barsoom – I can’t think of a single reason not to go.

Do you have any writing blogs you recommend?

Do you have any writer friends you’d like to give a shoutout to?

DJ Butler, David West, Rick Partlow, Ken Jorgensen, and Nick Cole.

Pick any three fiction characters. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?

D’Artagnan, Porthos, and Athos. We go to Barsoom to overthrow the Holy Therns and Issus.

What superpower would you most like?

Flying or teleportation.

What are two of your favorite covers of all time? (Not your own.)

Both Michael Whelan covers: A Princess of Mars, and The Warlord of Mars.

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)?

Follow my weekly blog:

It is also accessible through my Amazon page.

Here’s my Amazon page link:

Here’s a link to my latest trilogy (for a limited time at only $0.99 each):

I’ve attached a photo of me, and also the trilogy book covers to the emai.

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