Interview with D.P. Woolliscroft

D.P. Woolliscroft

Born in Derby in England, on the day before mid-summers day, David Peter Woolliscroft was very nearly magical. If only his dear old mum could have held on for another day. But magic called out to him over the years, with a many a book being devoured for its arcane properties. David studied Accounting at Cardiff University where numbers weaved their own kind of magic and he has since been a successful business leader in the intervening twenty years.

Adventures have been had. More books devoured and then one day, David had read enough where the ideas he had kept bottled up needed a release valve. And thus, rising out of the self doubt like a phoenix at a clicky keyboard, a writer was born. Kingshold is David’s debut novel and Tales of Kingshold, companion short stories to the novel, are flooding onto the page as fast as David can write them.

He is married to his wife Haneen and has a daughter Liberty, who all live with their mini golden doodle Rosie in Princeton NJ. David is one of the few crabs to escape the crab pot.

Hello Dave, happy to have you here in my cozy, little living room! Please choose a beverage of your choice and tell me a bit about yourself!

Why, thank you, Timy. I’ll take a cup of tea, a nice strong with a dash of milk. People may tell you that authors run on coffee, but that’s just the jolt to get started in the morning. I run on a constant stream of hot tea all day. I suppose that is something about myself but I’m not sure that’s too interesting (except for the fellow PG tips aficionados), so instead how about knowing that I too really like music. I listen to BBC Radio 6 a lot but can’t do it while I’m writing, the DJs put me off, so I listen to a constant stream of soundtracks. Game of Thrones, Bladerunner, Lord of the Rings, Twin Peaks (and that can be quite spooky when you’re up at 5am writing). Right now I am listening to the Westworld soundtrack.

Ooh, another music lover. We might have some use of you as a DJ. Our old one is not really right in his mind since he was tortured. Err, umm, next question. Say, you can live in the fantasy house/lair of your dreams. What would it look like?

I think it would probably be Belgareth’s tower in the Vale of Aldur. I’ve always liked the idea of living in a wizards tower and Belgareth’s is none too neat. It would also be great to have your friends living nearby and your god that you can just go and have a chat with.

Sounds intriguing. Don’t forget to have an elevator though, for your old days… What is your favorite fantasy creature and why?

When it comes to the classic monster archetypes it has to be a dragon. But they have to be the ancient, insanely intelligent type of dragon. I haven’t written about a dragon yet, largely because i don’t think they should be thrown around willy nilly, but one might make an appearance in book 3. Of creatures I have written about then I do love the little pink pyxies that the electorate used to vote in Kingshold.

Yeah, dragons are cool, but not as much as pyxies! I loved those little bastards. Around the time I started reading Kingshold I’ve got a pyxie related nickname, so it really struck me when I came across them in your book. I hope to see them more in the future!

Why did you decide to become an author and how did you end up choosing self-publishing?

I decided to give this author thing a try because I really needed a creative outlet. I’ve always read a lot but about 18 months ago I was struggling with a bunch of things because of a job situation that wasn’t stimulating enough. And so, while I was mulling a story idea which would have been great subject for a Discworld novel, I decided that I should just give it a shot and see if it was something I could do.

And I literally chose self publishing because I’m a bit impatient now at this stage of my life. I could have gone the approach of querying agents to get a trad deal but I really just wanted to write and see if people would like it. So I wouldn’t necessarily turn my nose up at a trad deal in the future if someone came knocking, but I’m doing what I really want to do which is write every day and put some stories out there that people like.

At the end of the day, the really important thing is that you are doing what you love 🙂 Tell me a bit about Kingshold. Being it your debut novel, how hard it was to get it out to people? How it was received? What was the hardest part of publishing for you?

Book marketing is a little terrifying, as I’m never sure if I’ve done a good job. Basically the approach I took was to approach a bunch of book bloggers at the outset that I had researched and where I thought they might enjoy what I had written. Thankfully I got a great reaction which encouraged me to keep going. My first review was by Esme Weatherwax and I think she literally read the 500 page book in two days. I was super nervous reading that first review but was so happy when she read it. I really enjoyed your review too ☺.

Hah, I see what are you doing there! Flattery won’t work on me! Although it’s pretty much appreciated 😉

Now I have book 1.5 coming out on November 6th, it’s called Tales of Kingshold, and I’m pretty sure I’m about to undo all of the good work I’ve done so far. It’s a 1.5 book because it’s a collection of novelettes and short stories about the characters of Kingshold as well as a few new favorites of mine. But now I have to work out how to market something that may not seem to be core to the series but actually is really important. So we’ll see how that works out! This is the joy of self publishing, I get to experiment and do something different. If it works out then that is great. If not, I may switch it up later (or just stick stubbornly to my original vision).

Personally I think it’s a cool idea. Fills the void between books, adds a bit of extra to the world people get to know while reading the main series.

Kingshold’s setting is a bit unusual, meaning that it starts with the death of the king, and the fate of the city is in the people’s hands. I don’t think I’ve come across a fantasy book based on an election. Why did you decide to go this route? What inspired the story?

I touched on the inspiration for the story a little earlier. The craziness of the elections in the UK (or the brexit vote anyway) and the US elections, just made me long for the benevolent dictator of Ankh Morpork. And I got to wondering what Sir Terry would have done if he eventually wrote the story of how the Patrician would replace himself. I felt a bit down that this would never be written but realized that I had the kernel of a story idea there. And so I started playing with it. I established the themes I wanted to hit. Came up with characters that I wanted to inhabit the time and space and then worked it through to see what would happen. One little piece led to another.

Your main character is a bard, Mareth. Why did you choose a bard for your MC? Do you listen to music while writing? If not, what inspires you?

Oops. I already answered this one. But yes I am very much a music fan. I don’t get to see too many bands nowadays as Princeton NJ is just a little too far from Philadelphia or New York to easily go to shows but I saw a lot in my younger days in London and Washington DC. I listen to all sorts of music from dance music to indie, hip hop to reggae. We’ve also really gotten into New Orleans style jazz – it’s full of so much emotion.

Awesome, my DJ job offer still stands, if you ever think writing doesn’t work out.

Which one of your characters would you like to switch with and live in Kingshold in their place? And which of them would you like to live with in an Asylum?

I think I’d like to switch places with Jyuth. He’s never afraid of taking control and also taking no shit from anyone else. And he’s got the whole world ahead of him as he goes off into retirement. He knows running a country is a thankless and difficult job.

And do I have to live in an Asylum? Probably Mareth I guess. At least he’ll have a pretty good supply of songs and stories to while away the days in the padded room.

Well, if you want to work for me, you have to live here. Part of the job description, sorry.

You’ve entered to SPFBO this year. What are your impressions so far?

It’s so much fun being part of it. And I’m really enjoying the friendships that I’m making with other authors. A number of past competitors said that was the most important thing about taking part and they are right. I am in Lynn’s Books thirty, and I was in the first group of books she read. I didn’t get cut straight away which is awesome, but because of her process now I have a long wait until she’s read all of the other books to know if I make it as a semi finalist. So it’s like a constant state of anticipation.

Yeah, I understand the anxiety that comes with the competition. Good luck in any case! What are your plans for the future? How many books are you planning for the series?

So, I have planned four major books in the Wildfire Cycle and each one has a slightly different feel. Book 1 ends on a definite up note for almost all of the characters, but Book 2 (which should be out in the middle of next year) is where reality bites. You could think of it as the Empire Strikes Back of the series. Book 3 is going to be my take on the classic fantasy quest archetype and then Book 4 is going to be the big conclusion where they all die. Wait, did I say they all die?

But I am also planning a book of ’Tales’ in between each major book. So I guess then you are looking at 7 books in total. Yikes!

Whoa, that’s an ambitious plan. I’m looking forward to read the next installments in this series!

While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?

The single combined edition of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. It’s a super awesome story with so much complexity. And it’s also really long. So at least I’d be able to get a lot of reread value over all eternity. I can also imagine by scribblings on the wall as I try to keep the characters all straight.

Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks the door*

So long, and thanks for all of the fish!

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If you’d like to get in contact with D.P. Woolliscroft, you can find him on social media:

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Tales of Kingshold is out now! Read my review of SPFBO entrant Kingshold, then go and grab a copy of both books by clicking on thei buttons:

For more SPFBO content from the whole Fantasy Book Review team, check out my page!