Author Interview: Glen Dahlgren

Glen Dahlgren

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

The first book in the my YA fantasy series the Chronicles of Chaos is out. The prequel, the Game of War (which focuses on one of the fan-favorite characters, Dantess) is complete and being edited. And I’m currently writing book two in the series tentatively titled, the Curse of Chaos.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way. 

As much as I love my characters, everyone connects with the world in this series. It drives a lot of what happens. In book one, Chaos was locked away by the gods of Order thousands of years ago—but even they knew that someday, someone would release it. And that terrified them. The Child of Chaos tells the story of the culmination of that conflict that changed the world forever. 

That said, I still loved the world before I blew it up, and fans were asking to know more about a certain priest of War named Dantess, so I wrote his story as a prequel. And it’s a good thing I did. Dantess proved even more interesting than I imagined, but the world-building that happened in Game of War directly affected my approach to book two.

And that’s where I am now, writing the Curse of Chaos. Here find out that the Child of Chaos isn’t done affecting the world, and we learn more about the nature of the Dreaming.

Also, I took the chance to narrate my audiobook for the Child of Chaos. I had a lot to learn, but the end result was a great experience and people seem to enjoy my performance. I’ll never launch a book without an audiobook companion from now on.

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

I sincerely love most of the steps that involve creating (although I will agree with Asimov that I like ‘having written’ better than ‘writing’). That said, I know I’m not alone when I say that marketing is a bear. Every time I learn something, I realize how much I don’t know. I suspect that marketing will continue to be my arch-enemy throughout my writing career.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I’m a game designer by trade, so I love noodling through problems and fixing them. When you come up with a great solution—something that you know makes everything work and is going to hit the reader just right—there’s nothing like it. When I have scenes like that in my head, I can’t wait to get it on paper so I can read it. At that point, it’s like looking forward to a movie you’re excited to see.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

That’s tough. Ursula Le Guin’s mastery of prose? Terry Pratchett’s humor? Neil Gaimen’s grasp of mythology? I’d love to have more tools in my belt, but honestly, I think I’m writing the stories I need to tell already. 

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best? 

Oh, man. I am hard on my main characters. Dantess, from Game of War, goes through hell in his story. Not only that, I stripped away all of his illusions about the temple of War and his heroes. I would tell him that he has to go through all of this to become the person who can protect everyone, not just the people he’s been told to value.

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why? 

So that would be me, Galen (from the Child of Chaos), and Geralt (the Witcher). I think Galen and I would throw our coins to the Witcher and get out of there while we could.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

World-building: Don’t get too in the weeds of your world. People really enjoy my setting, because I’ve identified what’s important to the story and characters. I never overwhelm the reader with backstory or proper nouns. Those passages will become shelf-moments for you.

Characters: Do the work. Understand who they are, what they want, why they want it, and what will happen if they fail. In my first draft, my villain was one-note. He was horrible because he needed to be horrible. But now people have called Horace one of their favorite villains of all time, and enjoyed peeling away his layers. Giving him his needed depth was critical for that story to succeed.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

I’m really looking forward to the Wheel of Time TV show coming out soon. I’ve spoken to the producers, and everything I’ve heard about it makes me think they’re doing it right. Keep an eye out for that!