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Book Tour Q&A: Warrior of Light by William Heinzen


Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Warrior of Light by William Heinzen! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.

 
About the book

Tim Matthias has only ever known the peace of the South, but that peace is shattered when a group of mysterious creatures destroys his home. In search of answers, Tim discovers the poisoned wastelands of the North, where the Dark Lord Zadinn Kanas rules over all. It is here that Tim joins forces with a band of freedom fighters on a quest to find the Army of Kah’lash, a mythical force destined to serve those in need. At the same time, Tim must learn to use the magic of the Lifesource, for he is the Warrior of Light. As Tim struggles to accept his destiny, those around him must battle their way across the North, seeking a means to wage one last, desperate stand against Zadinn and his armies…

 
On to the interview...!

This is one of our standard podcast opening questions, so we’ll include it for written interviews as well! Tell us something great that’s happened recently! :)

I switched to a hybrid work style (for my day job) that has allowed me more flexibility in my regular business routine. It’s one of the few good things that came out of the pandemic. I do cybersecurity for an IT company with an office in North Dakota, but I’ve also begun spending more time in places like Tampa, Florida which is one of my favorite spots. Being from the Midwest for most of my life, I’m a big fan of anything tropical! I recently came back from a week in Tampa and will be returning there soon.


What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?

I am reading Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden. I expect most are familiar with it, but if you aren’t, it is about a military operation in 1993 in which U.S. military forces attempted what they intended to be a brief military operation in Mogadishu, but due to a “perfect storm” of miscalculations and battlefield elements spinning out of control, they found themselves in a heavy sustained firefight lasting all night and resulting in a significance loss of life. I’m reading it because I would like to explore the notion of a medieval fantasy “special operations” military unit in a future work (after the novel I’m currently writing). I plan on immersing myself in this subject via nonfication accounts of real operations, including Lone Survivor, 13 Hours, Horse Soldiers, Alone at Dawn, Red Platoon, and others. I’m excited to see where it takes me!


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?

I grew up reading and loving books, especially fantasy fiction. I ultimately started writing because I wanted to create the same experience for other readers that some of my favorite writers had created for me. Outside of writing, I am really big into the outdoors. The characters in my work spend a lot of time in the natural wilderness, which is a big part of my own life.


Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?

My current favorite writers are not epic fantasy writers, interestingly enough. I think Stephen King has a phenomenal authorial voice, and his book It remains my favorite work of all time. The other writer I read compulsively is Lee Child, who brings an excellent command of prose and dialogue to a genre that I feel sometimes sorely lacks those things. As far as direct influences, outside of the obvious work, Lord of the Rings, the most influential reads for me were Brian Jacques’ Redwall novels, David Eddings’ Belgariad, Tad Williams’ Memory Sorrow and Thorn, and most significant of all, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. I absolutely loved the epic scope of Jordan’s writing and sometimes my writing is just an attempt to capture that same feel.


In your opinion, what kind of reader would like this book?

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy heroic fantasy. If you like a traditional approach to good versus evil, magic, battle, monsters, and quests, this is the book for you. It is a standalone novel with a completed story arc (though there is a sequel with its own complete story arc). It’s for readers who don’t want to deal with cliffhangers or unfinished series. It’s also been very well received by readers who don’t typically read fantasy, but want to try something new.


How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?

The amount of planning has varied from one book to the next. For Warrior of Light, I relied heavily on developing an outline in advance. I needed the roadmap, otherwise I don’t think I’d have finished it. My writing process involved checking the outline, meeting a word target count, and rinsing and repeating until completion. I didn’t do any editing while writing my first draft, as I didn’t want to get stuck in “paralysis by analysis”. I then took several editing passes over it before hiring a professional line and content editor followed by a professional copyeditor. It was all fairly straightforward.

For my second novel, City of Darkness, I outlined it in thirds. I wrote the first 1/3 of an outline, then wrote the book according to that outline, then outlined and wrote the next 1/3, then outlined and wrote the final draft. I then did a similar process of multiple read-throughs and edits before handing it off to an editor.


For my current novel I’m really changing it up! I am outlining 3-5 chapters at a time. This allows me to have a reasonably degree of planning and structure while also allowing the story to organically develop. I have a general idea of how it will finish, and writing process is filling in the specifics. Then, I’ll write and edit about 2,000 words at a time, so I’m switching between drafting and editing on a very regular basis. I made this change because for each of my other books, by the end of the drafting phase I was tired of drafting (and getting careless), and by the end of the editing phase I was tired of editing (and also getting careless). This current approach has me constantly shifting between outlining, drafting, and editing. It’s bringing me much closer to the individual scenes and also keeping me much more engaged. Longer answer than you wanted? The books run in excess of 180,000 words, so maybe it’s know surprise that I can get into lengthy descriptions.


Is this your first book? If so, what lessons have you learned from writing it? If not, what lessons did you learn from writing earlier books that you brought into this one?

This (Warrior of Light) is my first book. I’m coming into this online tour scene late, so I do have a direct sequel to it already available (City of Darkness). Warrior of Light was all about me learning how to construct a coherent plot, leveraging the basic building blocks of a story like character/setting/conflict, and doing so via effective prose. The significance of constructing sentences properly and effectively cannot be understated. It’s the like the foundation of a house; it’s not something a reader always consciously notices, but it does hold the whole thing up, and without it the house falls down. My second novel was about me learning how to take the very same characters into a new conflict and capturing the same thematic “feel” of the first book without just doing the same things all over again. My third novel is about me developing what I hope is a unique authorial voice, and hopefully marks the soft start of a transition from traditional quest-based fantasy, which saturates the market, into fantasy that can achieve new and interesting things. I have a plan for a much more ambitious series after this one which will build on all those lessons.


They say to never judge a book by its cover and maybe that’s true in the philosophical sense, but it certainly happens with books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of your book?

I found a talented cover artist online, who asked me what types of things I like in book covers. I like darker covers, both in terms of color selection as well as thematics, along with imagery suggestive of who the hero is. I feel like it emphasizes the nature of the clash of good between evil that will take place in the story. In this case specifically, I told the cover artist that my favorite fantasy cover was the DAW edition of The Name of the Wind which shows a robed Kvothe from behind, looking over a mysterious landscape. Usually when I reference that cover, people look at Warrior of Light and go, oh yeah, I see that.


One of our favorite things is sharing quotes from what we’re reading that really resonate with us. Do you have a favorite quote that you can share with us? What about this quote in particular makes it your favorite?

I love Stephen King’s dedication to his children at the front of It, where he says fiction is the truth inside of the lie, and the truth of this fiction is simple enough: the magic exists. I like it because I’ve always felt that the epic fantasy genre provides an incredibly interesting lens for dealing with real-world topics. That might seem like a strange thing to say, from the sense that I’ve certainly never had to go toe-to-toe with a dark sorcerer like Tim has to do in Warrior of Light, but the traditional hero’s journey focuses on archetypes that deal with challenges and transformations, and we all have our own trials in life, which do sometimes put us in difficult situations and do change use. Being a true hero doesn’t mean saving the world, it means having compassion for those around you, protecting your family, helping people in need, and standing up against true evil, which does exist in this world. You turn on the news and hear about a murder, remember one thing—murderers will always exist. The story of Cain and Abel shows that murder is one of the first actions humankind ever took. Realize, though, that even though murderers will always exist, there are also those of us who can choose to stand up and do something about it. It invokes thoughts of another quote (rambling, I know), which is sometimes attributed to Neil Gaiman but which is also attributed much earlier to GK Chesterton, which says “fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten”. That’s the truth fiction shows us inside of its “lie”.


Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! We always enjoy this little peek behind the curtain. Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?

I appreciate your time! My parting comment is this. I’m very new to the online scene of promoting my work. If you enjoyed this interview, and if you enjoy this book, and you know of another interview or review opportunity, or are just looking for a guest blog post, please reach out! william@williamheinzen.com or twitter @theWriterBill.


And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?

I’m notoriously bad at maintaining an effective online presence, but my hope is that these types of engagements like this interview will help me do a better job in this arena. The main place to stay on top of what I am doing is my website, williamheinzen.com. My email address is william@williamheinzen.com. I also maintain a Twitter page under @theWriterBill, though I’m still learning how to effectively utilize the platform.

 
Where to buy the book:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Light-William-Heinzen/dp/0692769056/

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Warrior-of-Light-Audiobook/B08VV6TVND

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