The following is a behind the scenes look at my new fantasy novel The Shadow Watch, coming out on May 15, as well as a glance at things to come after the Shadow Watch series. The questions came from an interview for a group on Wattpad.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
The Shadow Watch title came early on in the writing process. I think I called the book The Watchers first. I knew that my magically gifted warriors were going to be called Watchers from the start, and the Shadow Watch quickly became the title of the rebel army for which the book takes its name. As soon as I came up with the army, I knew that was the title, and it stuck.
Why did you choose to have multiple perspectives instead of just one?
This came about unintentionally. I originally set out to write only from Tori’s perspective. But the story had a mind of its own. I reached a certain point, and I realized that I needed to see what was going on with Darien in the Legion army. And then, the same happened for Kale and his whole plight amongst the Yan Avii developed.
Looking back, I don’t think the story could have been told any other way. Two more perspectives have joined the fray in Book 2. So, I guess I chose multiple perspectives because it merely felt right in the process. I also love multi-POV fantasy stories. I tend to get bored with one character after a while. Maybe that bled into my writing.
Is there any symbolism you worked into the book that you’d like to discuss?
Hmmmm. I don’t know if I would go as far as intentional symbolism. There are certainly parallels between the world of the Shadow Watch and our own. There are a few nods to various mythologies and cultures from our world, which may stand out if you look closely.
If you could pick some “theme songs” for the book, what would they be and why?
The Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed soundtracks capture the mood of the book very well. Skyrim for the mountainous scenes, and Assassin’s Creed for the desert city ones.
Do you have any “theme songs” for the characters?
The entire album Beneath the Skin by Of Monsters and Men always makes me think of Darien. The song “Organs” is especially powerful. It is about someone coming apart from within in the wake of things going wrong. It really captures him as he transforms from an idealistic rebel into a servant of the enemy. I listened to it a lot as I was writing his perspective.
What are some of the main themes or ideas you explore within the book?
The main struggle is between oppressed groups and empire, a narrative that is sadly very relevant in the world today. There are themes of colonialism prevalent as well. The seduction of power and the attractiveness of the powerful is certainly a recurring theme. Tragic pasts shape most of my characters. The dark side of love is something that interests me and shows up a lot in my writing. It fascinates me the way the people we care for can be used against us.
One thing I really tried to make a point to capture was the complexity of human motivations. All my characters have good and bad qualities, and they make good and bad choices. Even the chancellor (the primary villain) is not all bad, and he has definite reasons for being the way he is, something that is explored more as the series goes on.
What are some themes/concepts/ideas you’re interested in writing about in general?
I would love to explore more family dynamics. You see that to an extent with Kale and Ren in The Shadow Watch, but most of my characters have been separated from their families and so that dynamic is not as prevalent. I would love to explore a more complex family dynamic, where all the members (including parents) are still alive and prominent in the story, particularly one where culture and honor are very important and create lots of potential for conflict. That’s my vision for my next project.
I also want to get more creative in the potential for “strangeness” in a fantasy world. Most fantasy settings (including my own) tend to pretty closely mirror Earth cultures, landscapes, etc. My dream would be to explore a setting that feels totally new, the way Sanderson does in the Stormlight Archive. I’ve got an idea brewing now for my next series, and it explores a fantasy world that is tidally locked with its sun (like our Moon is locked with Earth), so that one side of the world is always light, and one is always dark. I’m really excited to explore what kind of mythologies, creatures, and culture might develop on such a world. But it is still very much in development, and on the backburner until I finish the Shadow Watch series.
The Shadow Watch is now available for Pre-order here.