#SPFBO7 Interview – Glen Dahlgren

Glen, welcome to Lavender Lass Books. Thank you for agreeing to this interview and best of luck in the competition!

The Child of Chaos is the first book in The Chronicles of Chaos series. Here’s the blurb:

Nothing can break the stranglehold the gods of Order have on the world . . . except a roll of the dice.

An irresistible longing drags young Galen to an ancient vault where, long ago, the gods of Order locked Chaos away. Chaos promises power to the one destined to liberate it, but Galen’s dreams warn of dark consequences.

He isn’t the only one racing to the vault, however. Horace, the bully who lives to torment Galen, is determined to unleash Chaos–and he might know how to do it.

Galen’s imagination always got him into trouble, but now it may be the only thing that can prevent Horace from unraveling the world.

“This is no ordinary sword and sorcery story. This is what fantasy fiction should be. [Glen Dahlgren is a] novelist who I think will become more widely known as his skill is appreciated.” –Piers Anthony. New York Times best-selling author of Xanth

And now to the interview:

1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
It is my first time entering. To be fair, it’s my first published book—even though it took me twenty years from start to shelf.

I stayed with the story for so long because it spoke to me. Not only that, I genuinely love the world and the Child of Chaos is just the start of the series. I’ve already written the prequel for its fan-favorite breakout star: Dantess, priest of War.

I’d been aware of #SPFBO for some time, but I just missed the deadline to enter last year with my book—so I counted down the days to enter this year. Next year, I may enter the Game of War because, even though it’s in the same series, it’s a stand-alone book.

2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
I’ve been a fantasy and science fiction fan for most of my life. I played D&D in high school and college while making computer games that also told fantasy stories, like Dragon Blade and White Fire of Eternity.

After college, I joined Legend Entertainment and got to fulfill some dreams I didn’t even know I had. As lead designer, I created new stories in the most wondrous worlds out there: Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Death Gate Cycle, Frederik Pohl’s Heechee Saga, and more.

The Child of Chaos may be my first novel, but I’ve been living in these worlds all my life. This is just the first time I’ve told a story this way, one that is my singular vision.

3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
I started out querying for agents and ended up signing with a small press to publish my book. COVID changed their priorities, however. They announced that they would no longer be supporting hardcopies of their books.

There are many reasons someone decides to become an author, but maximizing profit isn’t usually the first. For me, I wanted to hold my book in my hands, see it on the shelves of a bookstore, and hand it to someone at a signing who really wants to read it (I’ve done all but the last, and I’m working on it, as soon as everyone is vaccinated).

So I severed my relationship with the publisher and struck it out on my own. It wasn’t an easy decision. Like most authors, I knew little about publishing—especially production and marketing—but I took on the challenge. I even managed to produce the audiobook based on my novel!

I still have a lot to learn about promotion, but I’m working on it. Hey, I’m doing an interview for #SPFBO right now!

4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
Knowing what I know now, I’d never go back (at least to a small press). I am responsible for everything associated with my book, but it’s a great thing. I’m making the editorial decisions. I’m designing the cover I want to see. I’m choosing the release schedule. And, very important, I retain all rights to my creative work. I know how compelling worlds can translate to other media, and I would want to hold the keys if that opportunity ever presents itself.

Naturally, there are a lot of challenges, as well. Promotion and discovery (how people can find your book) are the biggest ones for me. How do you get people to pay attention to your work when there are hundreds if not thousands of others doing the same thing, in the same genre, talking to the same customers?

I have a good book and, I think, a compelling author story. I plan to keep pushing both until my effort gains some momentum of its own. Maybe after a few more books. 🙂

5. As a reader, and now author, how has the fantasy genre changed over the last several years? How has it stayed the same?
First, fantasy is an evergreen genre. To some degree, it has always been popular and will continue to be into the future. That said, there are plenty of peaks and valleys in its journey. In the last decade or so, we’ve seen a lot of mainstream attention on the genre. Films such as LotR and TV shows like Game of Thrones have provided credibility that vast audiences want fantasy fare. It’s kind of amazing how many new YA fantasy series Netflix has produced recently.

Second, the genre itself has splintered. I can’t even keep track of all of the very specific sub-genres out there, especially for sub-published works. Personally, I don’t like the idea of monitoring the ebb and flow of sub-genres and then write to what’s selling. I understand the business case, but I’d prefer to stay in the lane that speaks to me. The stories I tell are the ones that excite me. For now, I’m good with that.

6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I’ve written science fiction (notably for Star Trek) and I might return if the opportunity presents itself, but I have a lot more story to tell in the Chronicles of Chaos. Ask me when I’m done with those.

7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
All of the above? First, I want a world that makes sense and feels original. Then I want characters that are unique and deep. Then I want the story to pay off in ways I didn’t expect. Is that too much to ask?

8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
The breakout star of Child of Chaos was Dantess: a priest of War. He was undeniably the action hero of the book, able to draw upon the training and experiences of generations of priests before him. But we really don’t know how his past led him to be the person Galen needed in his story.

In order to write the sequel, I realized I needed to explore that character, his past, and his secrets. That effort became the Game of War, the prequel to the Child of Chaos.

It is in editing right now. I expect to release that book this summer (fingers crossed).

Now I’m able to leverage that work to write the sequel to Child, called the Curse of Chaos, which explores the aftermath of the world-changing events in Child.

9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
Know the genre, avoid the cliches, find your voice, and keep writing.

Don’t get discouraged. If you’re writing to express a story that needs to be told, then don’t let anything stop you. There’s never been a better time to self-publish and get your work out there.

There’s no gatekeeper but yourself.

You can find Glen Dahlgren’s book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Child-Chaos-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B08BN6S5R2