Interview: Django Wexler Author of The Forbidden Library

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Django Wexler is the author of Memories of Empire; Shinigami; the  epic fantasy series The Shadow Campaigns (The Thousand Names and the upcoming The Shadow Throne, together with the short story “The Penitent Damned”); an urban fantasy novella John Golden, Freelance Debugger; and the middle grade fantasy The Forbidden Library, a tale of talking cats, mysterious libraries, and travel through books. He lives in Seattle with books, cats, and computers. Neither of the cats has talked—yet.

Here he takes the time to talk about writing, cats, and reading.

Django Wexler's Cats, Tomo and SakakiJG Is Ashes, Alice’s guide in The Forbidden Library, modeled after one of your cats? How about Ending?

My two cats, Tomo and Sakaki, are complete opposites.  Tomo is super-friendly and relaxed.  We think he’s part stuffed animal, since he loves being picked up and carried.  Sakaki, on the other hand, is skittish and terrified of everything.  Neither one quite fits with Ashes, although his response to the possibility of getting wet is on Sakaki’s end of the spectrum!

The look of Ending is definitely patterned after Sakaki, who is pure black.  I’ve always loved the way black cats look, especially in the dark, the way they can just fade invisibly into the shadows.  Living with her gave me one of the images I use a lot in the book — a pair of bright yellow eyes, shining out of the darkness — which any cat owner should recognize.

Jessica Greenlee You’ve mentioned working on a sequel to The Forbidden Library. How many books are you planning? Will Alice grow up over the series?

Django Wexler The Forbidden Library is intended to be the first book in a series of five, the second of which I’m just about done with.  Alice will grow up a little as we go along, although not quite as much as in, for example, Harry Potter; the books aren’t spread over quite that much time.  I certainly intend to see her grow as a character, though!

JG How did you decide what type of fairy Alice should see in her kitchen in The Forbidden Library?

DW When I started the book, I knew I didn’t want to use a “standard” version of any fantasy creature.  I liked the idea of having a fairy visit Alice in the kitchen, but I wanted it to be something other than a happy, twinkly fairy, especially since he’s there to make threats.  I ended up with something larger and uglier, colored in yellow and black like a wasp.  All the creatures in the book are like that — if they’re taken from a typical fantasy creature, like a dragon, elf, etc, they’re all tweaked in some way to make them different.

The US Cover of The Forbidden Library by Django WexlerJG If you could visit a book, which one would you enter and why?

DW That’s tough! A lot of my favorite books wouldn’t actually be much fun to visit, they’re full of battles and disasters and other unhealthy things. In terms of just meeting up with interesting characters, I might try Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, which always seem like they’re full of people I’d want to hang out.  If I were looking for a book to live in, I might choose something like Peter F. Hamilton’s Void Trilogy — sure, you’ve got angry aliens to worry about, but everyone lives forever and technology has created utopias, which sounds like a pretty good deal.

JG You have some fan art on your page. Is there a particular scene you would like to see drawn?

DW One of my favorite things about being an author is seeing other people’s take on my characters and creatures.  My own artistic ability, in terms of drawing, is pretty negligible, so I get a real thrill when the book inspires someone to do something cool.  In The Forbidden Library my favorite parts are all the strange monsters, so I’m always eager to see more takes on those — the Dragon in the rockyard, for example, or Alice’s ambush of Vespidian.

Thousand_Names_Django_WexlerJG Does The Shadow Campaigns finish with The Shadow Throne or are there more books coming in the series?

DW The Shadow Campaigns, basically by coincidence, is also designed to be a five book series. Writing book three of that is my next project, hopefully for release in 2015. Between the two series, I’m being kept pretty busy!

JG What do you read for fun?

DW A lot of fantasy, although not as much as I’d like — there’s so much great stuff out there these days! Lately I’ve really enjoyed Max Gladstone’s Craft series and Felix Gilman’s The Revolutions.  I also read a lot of history, which works its way into my writing in strange ways. The Forbidden Library is set in 1931, for example, so there’s a few little historical touches in there!

JG You mention on your site that you enjoy games. What are some you especially like? What do you look for in a game?

DW I play several sorts of games.  Computer game-wise, I like strategy games and war games for the most part, occasionally shooters or other action games. I’ve played a lot of Diablo III, Civilization V, and Borderlands 2 lately.  I also play various board games — both miniature-type games like Warmachine and boxed board and card games. One of my recent favorites is Sentinels of the Multiverse.

I generally like my games to have a lot of depth and strategy to them, although I enjoy a pretty wide variety. Different games are fun with different groups of people — something very competitive is more fun for me against strangers on the internet than playing against my friends.

JG Thank you for taking the time for this!

DW Thanks for having me!

Visit Django Wexler’s site at http://djangowexler.com/
Read the FanboyNation review of The Forbidden Library here.

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