Folks, please welcome Dean F. Wilson, the author of the high fantasy novel The Call of Agon, Book 1 of The Children of Telm, to Dab of Darkness. Having enjoyed his book, I asked Dean if he wouldn’t mind giving me an interview. He happily did so. Here we chat about limited third person (which is more revealing than you think), Irish coddle, and music. Enjoy!
1) As a journalist writing primarily in the field of technology, why write a high fantasy book instead of a super techy science fiction novel?
I started the initial versions of The Call of Agon, then called Protos Mythos, 13 years ago, long before I became a technology journalist, so one could say that my interest in fantasy (and mythology) pre-dated my interest in technology and journalism. I think fantasy allows for more symbolic stories than sci-fi, but I actually have ideas for several sci-fi works for the future and have written some sci-fi short stories that I will publish in time. There is a lot of overlap in speculative fiction.
2) Not only are you a poet, a journalist, and author of high fantasy, you also write non-fiction. Quite the diversity! How do you manage to keep these distinct writings separate, giving each it’s own voice?
Mostly from necessity. I would never be able to successfully write news or non-fiction articles or books if I adopted my fiction style for them. This is particularly so for journalism, which demands the facts be delivered without too much flair. Fiction and poetry affords considerably more freedom, but these mediums also bring their own challenges, because style should not detract from communication, which writing is ultimately all about. I think fiction and non-fiction work can aid each other by showing how to be engaging and thought-provoking, while also being clear and concise.
3) You mentioned Greece and Egypt, lands of ancient myth, as places you find intriguing and would love to visit. What captivates you about these locations?
The history and mythology of the places. They are very interesting locations that provided compelling views on humanity. Their history is fascinating, both from the grandiose aspects of the empires they formed and the wars they engaged in, but also in how they thought and how their cultures developed. Many of the things we take for granted come from these cultures, so their effects are always felt, if not acknowledged. I am also interested in the histories and cultures of other countries and regions.
4) In The Call of Agon, you chose to tell the story from limited third person point of view. While this way of telling a story was very popular in the past, Tolkien, most Celtic & Norse myths, epic poetry, and song, it is not commonly used in today’s high fantasy. Why use this point of view?
The thing that attracts me about fantasy is how it is, essentially, the heir of mythology. I like the style and feel of myth, epic poetry, and many of the authors who adopted similar approaches in their fiction. While a limited third person point of view offers little of the thoughts of the character/s, it helps create a greater sense of mystery about the people in the world. What people say about each other becomes significantly more important. What people do gains greater magnitude, and the reader’s understanding of a character may shift greatly when he or she realizes the ultimate reasoning for a certain action. In The Call of Agon, the story is primarily seen through the eyes of Ifferon, who is suspicious of those he encounters. He is as much trying to figure out the other characters as the reader is.
5) Let’s talk music, as this is another of your talents. Would you like to talk about your involvement with Eyes of Wood? Any future music projects in the making?
Eyes of Wood was an interesting experiment aiming to unite music, writing and art. It has not really taken off yet, and it might never do so, but I am definitely interested in doing more music projects in future. There was a second unreleased Eyes of Wood piece completed called The Sailor and the Song, which told the story of a sailor lured to his doom in the sea. It involved both song and recitation and had some great music. Whether or not it is ever released depends on all parties involved, but I will certainly publish the poem/lyrics behind it at some stage. I also started a third piece that is a reinterpretation of the myth of Tam Lin. Music is an area I would love to explore more in the future. Film is another.
6) Having read The Call of Agon, I love that your characters are not black and white. Your characters are grey, meaning that they are a mix of good and evil. High fantasy has a history of having distinctly bad characters and distinctly good characters. Why did you go with grey characters?
A lot of traditional fantasy works with archetypes, which tend to be more easily definable as hero or villain. I think there is great value in this, in terms of communicating the different aspects of our being, but I think a more realistic, and perhaps more relatable, depiction of people is more mixed than this. The world is not black and white, and there is good and evil in all people. How people choose to act depends a great deal on the circumstances involved, and often there is no clear-cut response. I think there is a lesson for all of us in this, but I also think it makes for engaging fiction, as there is an element of mystery for the reader.
7) As an Irishman, what are some native foods you would recommend for the adventurous and some food that you would recommend for the non-adventurous?
For the non-adventurous: potatoes. To be honest, Irish cuisine is probably a lot less exciting than some other cultures, but it is certainly homey and hearty. Irish stew and coddle, for example. Most people who visit tend to want to try things like Guinness, which we are perhaps more famous for (and is widely believed to be superior here to the exported variety). For fast food, fish and chips from traditional Italian-Irish “chippers” is the staple.
Thank you for your time and the interview opportunity 🙂
Places to Stalk Dean