Happy Tuesday, Reading Nook Readers!
Today, we're THRILLED to be a part of the blog tour for Django Wexler's The Mad Apprentice! It's the second book in the Forbidden Library series, which if you haven't read already, you must pick up immediately!
Read on to find out which character Django would like to have tea with, how his D&D years have inspired his world-building, and more!
A Q&A with Django Wexler
Author of The Mad Apprentice
1) First things first: since we live in the age of instant communication, could you summarize The Forbidden Library series for us in 140 characters?
2) You’ve mentioned in previous Q&A sessions that your transition to middle grade fiction has been a relatively smooth one, and you’re able to produce a novel a year, because the word count for an MG novel is shorter than the word count for a Shadow Campaigns novel.
What other insights have you noticed about your writing and work, as you’ve adapted to writing MG, that you wouldn’t mind sharing - especially as you’ve worked on The Mad Apprentice?
Keeping the books relatively short has been an interesting exercise. It's largely about simplicity in structure, I think. If you compare The Shadow Throne to The Mad Apprentice, the former has three POV characters and several plotlines going at once, whereas the latter sticks to the main plot much more closely -- we follow Alice on her adventure, without a lot of side-tracking. It's also more tightly focused in terms of the environment and time period; Shadow Throne takes place over the course of weeks in a huge, bustling city, while Mad Apprentice lasts a few days and sticks with Alice and her friends as they go through a dangerous magical fortress. All this helps keep the MG books manageable for the audience and for the author!
3) One frequent compliment that I’ve noticed from critics/reviewers for both your Shadow Campaigns and Forbidden Library series, is your ability for careful, detailed world-building.
Do you think that your background as a programmer/writer helped develop your world-building skills at all? After all, I would imagine that you have to be fairly meticulous when writing code!
I actually think that the biggest contributor to my world-building was role-playing games. I played D&D, Rifts, and similar RPGs for decades (I still do, when I get the time) and I was usually the GM, responsible for creating the world and running the adventure. Unlike character in novels, who can usually be relied on to behave, player characters in RPGs are prone to actively trying to poke holes in things and haring off in unexpected directions. So running a solid game requires both a lot of careful preparation and an ability to make things up on the fly and have them fit into a larger framework, both of which have served me well in the writing world.
The other thing that helps is being a history buff. The nice thing about history, from a fictional point of view, is that it's yours for the looting. No one is going to get mad at you for copying something that really happened. So a lot of my best worldbuilding tidbits come from saying, "Okay, so we're in a society that's kind of like France in 1800, so what were things like back then? What are some good details?"