#SPFBO7 Interview – J.D.L. Rosell

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

The Throne of Ice and Ash: A Norse Epic Fantasy Adventure is the first book in The Runewar Saga. Here’s the blurb:

A throne in peril, a tragic betrayal, two heirs struggling to save their land, and a prophesied war threatening to engulf the world…

Bjorn, youngest heir to the Mad Jarl of Oakharrow,has always felt more at ease with a quill than a sword. Yet when calamity strikes his family, he must draw a blade and lead a company of warriors into the cold, deadly mountains in pursuit of a mysterious foe. Though he seeks vengeance, an ancient power stirs within him, and the whispers of prophecy beckon him toward an ominous destiny…

Aelthena, Bjorn’s sister, was born with the aptitude to lead, and she’s eager to prove it. But her society’s rules for women, and her love for her brother, restrain her efforts to command. As she walks the fine line between ambition and virtue, enemies of both mankind and myth rally against Oakharrow, and even her allies question her right to rule…

The Runewar is rising – it begins with the fall of a throne.

A harrowing tale of the struggle for power and the dawning heroes who rise above it, The Throne of Ice & Ash is Book 1 of the Norse high fantasy, coming of age series The Runewar Saga. Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, The Lord of the Rings, and The Wheel of Time won’t want to miss this new sweeping epic fantasy!

And now to the interview:

1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
Second time actually! My first entry, A King’s Bargain, made it to the semifinals last year with the Weatherwax Report, which I was more than happy with. I had a great experience the first time round with SPFBO so I wanted to be part of it again. And I had a new release coming out at a convenient time, so why not?

2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
Fantasy was my first love for reading. I always enjoyed imagining the adventures, magic, and monsters as a kid and constantly found myself drawing characters, weapons, and dragons. Come senior year of college, I found myself really burnt out on stories (after getting a degree in English literature) and returned to the fantasy genre. It rekindled my passion for reading and jumpstarted my writing as well, as I think this is where my heart has always lain.

These days, some of the things I love most about fantasy — and epic fantasy in particular — are how elemental and mythic the stories can be. We get to strip away all the trappings of modern society and delve into people at their cores and put them through these amazing journeys that, to me, aren’t possible within a realistic, modern-day setting. Plus, any genre of story (mystery, thriller, etc.) is allowed within fantasy, so there’s so much variety, you hardly need to read anything else!

3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
I pursued traditional at first, but I was hearing a lot about self-publishing at the same time, and the aspects of control and forging your own fate really appealed to me. I’m very glad I made the switch, as I doubt I would have my career had I not.

4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
Others have expounded on this to no end, and I’m not sure I have anything much to original to offer, so I’ll be brief.

Advantages: creative control, business flexibility, and the satisfaction of doing it all yourself

Challenges: creative control can be paralyzing and lonely, business flexibility can be confusing and frustrating, and you have to do it all yourself (or at least manage it)

5. As a reader, and now author, how has the fantasy genre changed over the last several years? How has it stayed the same?
The last several years have seen a lot of niches really blossom. Progression fantasy in its many forms is huge, perhaps partly as an off-shoot of the rise of LitRPG. I’ve also noticed among self-publishing titles that books with really hooky ideas and eye-catching covers — like SPFBO winner Never Die — can do marvelously, perhaps to a greater extent than previously.

But some things never change as well. If you can write a classic epic or heroic tale, you’ll find plenty of readers as well — it just may take a bit more legwork.

6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I have a space opera series constantly churning in the back of my mind in the vein of Firefly, Foundation, and Battlestar Galactica. I even wrote the first sequence for it! (20k words or so.) But it’s probably going to be awhile before I open up enough space in my publishing schedule to be able to write it. Someday, I’ll get back to it…

7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
Character, character, character. If you have an amazing character who is complex, believable, interesting, and has a captivating voice/worldview, I’m all there. The rest is secondary for me — though I also can’t abide poor writing at a sentence level!

8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
Oh-ho, sniffing for gossip, are we? In fact, I do have a new series! I didn’t mean to be launching it so soon, but I plan to release the first book with Kindle Vella. Let’s just say it involves rangers (like Aragorn), lifeforce magic, a colonial rebellion, and druidic beings hell-bent on power… The rest will have to wait for the release in July (or whenever Vella pops)!

9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
I think it comes down to a few things:

Try to follow the “fun” in your writing. If you’re writing things you think are interesting, you’ll be happier, and chances are the reader will be too!

If you’re looking to make this your full-time gig, I’d say keep your eyes open as to what books are doing well, what covers are selling, what blurbs sound awesome to you and readers love as well, etc. You have to be really adaptive and iterative in this business, which means always being on the lookout for what’s next. Oh, and you have to do it while keeping your head down and writing what you’re currently working on. Fun, right?

Lastly, just keep pushing forward and don’t let the doubts or comparisonitis hamstring you!

You can find J.D.L. Rosell’s book here! https://books2read.com/throne-of-ice-and-ash