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Interview with Stanley Wheeler

A part of Stanely was born at the intersection of "once upon a time" and "where no man has gone before." As a result, Stanley found that he was not well suited to the farm work and other labor he grew up doing. After completing an undergraduate degree and still finding himself without any marketable skills or opportunities he wanted to pursue, Stanely went to law school. He clerked for a judge before going into private practice. Now he works as a deputy prosecuting attorney, and in his spare time, engages in outdoor activities, or escapes to other worlds and times by reading; or by writing the destinations himself. Those destinations include fantasy based on history, the old west, and the 1940s.


You write in fantasy based on history. What made you choose a genre in those two?

History is such an interesting mix of exciting events and fascinating characters that it truly does rival fiction. A fantasy setting makes anything possible. I enjoy the challenge of taking the limitless possibilities of fantasy and chaining them like flying horses of flame to the chariot of history. Another way to put that would be that I like the challenge of constricting the infinite to fit into finite dimensions—or maybe expanding the finite to infinite limits. Either way, it scratches an itch in a most pleasing way.

In the Course is due around March 2021. Give my readers a little non-spoiler idea of what it is about.

In my Tomahawks and Dragon Fire series, fantasy and history overlap during the American Revolutionary War. Dragons, gryphons, and other fantastic peoples and beasts may change the destiny of a nation--they will certainly change the destinies of the handful of characters at the center of this epic adventure which explores themes involving magic, power, liberty, and friendship. 

Events sweep Alex and Lucette into the maelstrom of revolution and to the ragged frontiers of the New World. They cooperate with two bands of dragon hunters--whose members come from around the world—a little person from Portugal, a huge Pacific Islander, and a pair of smugglers along the way.

In the Course: A Promise of Carnage and Flame commences a few months after the tragic events of Clamorous Harbingers. One of the dragon hunters reveals a secret that may put him at odds with the gryphons, and which compels him to enlist others in his clandestine mission which must surely end in death. Alex and Lucette turn their attention to aiding the revolutionary forces, but the commander has acquired an acolyte of his own with powers to match those of Alex. Alex and Lucette confront unforeseen difficulties on multiple fronts, while Iago and Atu face difficult choices and new enemies.

Some fun new characters show up in this installment of the adventure, and the backgrounds and character of the dragon hunters come into better focus.

What sort of research are you doing for it?

The research is endless. I’ve spent a great deal of time studying the Revolutionary War for many years. I think the Napoleonic Wars are the only historical subject I’ve spent more time on—that is an ongoing pleasure. Most of the research never makes it directly into the story, except maybe as a line or two, as a general rule. The research helps with the construction of the setting, the world building, and giving authenticity to historical matters. There isn’t a lot of world building as I’m using a mostly historical setting, but I’ve found myself researching about what kinds of trees are found within a certain area and how those trees look at various seasons. I frequently consult maps for distances and terrain matters. While writing earlier today, I looked into the seasonal habits of raccoons and badgers . I’ve had to learn a few nautical terms as well as various aspects of different types of sailing vessels. It’s very difficult to put any kind of limit on the research. Every page of the story has the potential to spark a question about history, geography, or how some old technology functioned. I’ve also read various Indian legends and mythologies with an eye to giving a bit of similar flavor and texture to my own fantasy creatures.

Do you enjoy research?

For the most part, I do enjoy the research. Occasionally, it distracts me from the actual writing. I know many writers talk about researching for hours to get a paragraph or a line exactly right. I do that, but I also recognize that in my fantasy/alternate history setting, not everything has to be exactly the same as it was historically. In fact, the changes are often part of the interesting adventure.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters?

The single most difficult thing about writing characters in a series is remembering everything that has already been disclosed about them. I do keep that information in an informal database, a spreadsheet program, but not everything makes it into the database. At times I have to go back through the story and verify that something about the character has been disclosed or demonstrated so that the actions are consistent with what has been revealed, with hints at what will yet be revealed.

Once a character has been created, I often may have questions about which side of a question or an action the character will choose. However, if I think about what the character has done in the past, the character’s course becomes obvious—they do what they want, and that is almost always consistent with the traits and motivations they have revealed previously in the story.

Which of your books do you want readers to be more aware of?

ALL OF THEM. Seriously, all of them.

I think most people who enjoy a bit of humor and mystery in a historical setting would love my noir detective novel Smoke. Many people would love my Tomahawks and Dragon Fire series but may refuse to try it because of the fantasy, or historical aspect—but it is a great adventure. I think my westerns, Justice in Season, and Justice Resurgent have been read by more people than have my other books, but they have been out much longer.

My shorter answer is that I wish more people would read Threading the Rude Eye because they would then discover that they want to read the following books in the Tomahawks and Dragon Fire series.

Would you prefer to write part-time or full time?

I would prefer to write full time. However, that is not an option at this point.

How many hours a day do you write?

I write one or two hours per day—usually. Circumstances may prevent writing on some days, and other days I may get in three or four hours. I aim for two hours.




Tomahawks and Dragon Fire Series BOX SET LINKS:

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