Author Interview: Daniel Dydek

This week our reader blog is spotlighting Fellowship of Fantasy Member, Daniel Dydek

What does a day in your life look like?

Um, change? Seriously, very few days have been alike, especially lately. I was laid off from my day job back in November 2019, so I had gotten into a schedule of working mornings—writing, marketing, podcasting, and whatever other little things needed done. Then up for lunch with my family (wife and <2-year-old); buddy dude goes down for a nap shortly afterward so usually a couple hours of quiet there for reading, mowing, bike riding… Afternoons until his bedtime at 7 are spent doing whatever he wants, usually. 7pm until our bedtime was reading, lately working on some classes for marketing and writing, unwind with a few episodes from some TV show or other. But as of July 6 I’m back to work, so it’s working for Cleveland Metroparks on the Trail Crew Monday through Thursday, and cramming as much writerly stuff as I can into evenings and weekends.

If you are starting a new story, what do you usually work on first? Plotting, characterization, world building? Something else? Or do you have a unique system?

This does really vary. With The Triumvirs series, since I outlined most of the characters and plots way back in 2002, I start with whatever is the central element of the book. For The First to Forgive, there were two key things: getting the characters to a certain point by a certain date, so I needed to define exact distances and times to travel; and the theme that each village/town/city was unique in some way, so writing out what those peculiarities were. That fueled so much of the plot, it was surprising. For The One Known, I needed to figure out who did it, and how to hide it—so I spent a lot of time early on figuring out all the clues and red herrings and such. For Book 4, currently in the works, I’m juggling multiple POV characters and a huge plot; so outlining each chapter and each character’s arc was top-of-the-list, to help me stay on track for my word-count goal. But I’m about 75% pantser/gardener, so I do that minimal outlining/plotting to have some idea of where I’m going and how to get there, and pretty quickly just dive into writing the story.

Do you like to stay in a single sub-genre or branch out across multiples?

I have been having a bit of fun with this series by intentionally writing in a different sub-genre for each book: By Ways Unseen was Sword & Sorcery, with lots of fight scenes and magic; The First to Forgive was a more purely quest-driven High Fantasy; The One Known is Mystery/Fantasy; and Book 4 is Epic Fantasy. I’m trying to see which one I like the best, and then focus my career primarily on that. I can’t tell yet which that is; I’ve had fun writing each of them. Not mystery.

What sub-genre are you currently writing in and what draws you to it?

Right now I’m in Epic, and I must say I am LOVING the languorous walk through the story. I tend to write long anyway, so actually being allowed and expected to is liberating, for sure. Still working to keep it interesting and engaging; but just reveling in the world building is…well, probably why most people write fantasy, isn’t it?

What was the best reader interaction you ever had as an author and as a follow up, how can readers support you (and other authors like you)?

Obviously, we love when readers gush over our work. Probably the two coolest stories have been one reader who had been in a reading drought—not really reading much of anything for a long time. She zipped through my first book, and has been reading voraciously ever since. That’s awesome. The second was the ideal, face-aglow reader recounting their experience through my book, loving all the characters, worlds, a bunch of the little details—that came at a really good time, too, when I wasn’t sure if my series was actually good or not. (I’m still waiting for someone to notice the Neil Young reference, though.)

There are so many ways to support us—financially is always best, buy our books and buy often. Reviews are a firm second—tell Amazon, Goodreads, your followers, family, and friends. But make sure they actually read the genre; I’ve long encouraged people who don’t read fantasy to not read my books, ever since the third person who said “well, I’ve finished chapter one…” and I never heard from them again. I understand they probably just don’t read the genre, but it still nags sometimes. Follow us on Social, subscribe to our newsletters—and ask questions! There’s space on Goodreads for that too, and we pretty much all love talking about our books and our writing processes. So that encourages us to keep going, too. And that’s the biggest thing: as with probably a lot of people, we just want to know that what we’re doing is worth the effort—that we’re reaching people, and not just writing into the void. Think of how nice it is when someone encourages your work, and realize authors can spend MONTHS working on something with only the hope that someone will like it—not knowing until it’s finally out there. So getting that reinforcement early and often is AMAZING. And it helps us get new readers, which is likewise awesome.


Author Spotlights feature authors subscribed to the Dragon Level Fellowship of Fantasy Membership. Find out more HERE.

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