I am very, very excited to be bringing this giveaway to you today. I have the pleasure of interviewing Dallas E. Caldwell, the author of 144:Wrath, the first book in a new fantasy series just released on Amazon. And after the interview, you will be able to enter to win a FREE copy of 144:Wrath for your e-reader!
It’s currently available through Amazon for the Kindle. Not having an e-reader, I’m waiting for the hardcopy to be released (soon!) ***UPDATE: If the winner does not possess a Kindle and is willing to wait a couple of weeks, they can get the hardcopy version instead. So everyone has a chance to win a free copy!
There is a preview excerpt of 144:Wrath on the Amazon listing page. If you go check that out (which you should) you might notice a certain someone’s name in the acknowledgements section. *cough cough* I was thrilled when Dallas asked me to preview a copy of 144:Wrath a few months ago. “Page turner” is an understatement. And I could easily see the “repeat value” in 144:Wrath. I can’t wait to read it again and explore the intricacies of the characters and the universe Dallas created.
Dallas, his wife and I were in several of the same writing classes in college. I hope it won’t embarrass him for me to say that, out of all the manuscripts I was privileged to be assigned to read, theirs were my favorites. I was delighted when I found out that he was now publishing his first novel.
Dallas graciously agreed to a Q&A with me to let my readers get to know him and his story a little better.
Can you explain the title, 144:Wrath?
144 is the "flagship" under which all my future works will live. The number itself is Biblically inspired. It represents the beings in my world that have been given "gifts" beyond the abilities of normal mortals. Essentially, there are 144 people at all times who are Gifted in this way. Just like the Biblical number, there are differing opinions on whether or not that number is literal.
Originally, I called this "duology" Eksahn and Thorosh (which are words in the language from the world) meaning Fear and Hope. Ultimately, I found Wrath and Redemption to be more true to the story I was trying to tell and to the main character. Book one is largely a tale of Polas Kas Dorian's desire for vengeance, and his taking matters into his own hands. Book two paints a broader picture of the redeeming power of blood.
Tell us about your main character, Polas Kas Dorien.
Polas Kas Dorian is a husband and a father first. And because he is a family man, he is compelled to be a soldier. It’s difficult to really get into his motivations without giving away too much, but I feel that I’ve grown a lot as a writer through his struggles. In the first few drafts, he was very insular and quiet. It didn’t make for a very good protagonist. I’ve had to stretch him and watch him grow. I wanted him to be believable as a dad and as a war hero willing to take on a god. On the surface, vengeance drives him, but above all else, he is a protector. I’m anxious to keep watching him develop over the course of the next book too.
What makes your story unique from other fantasy stories?
I’ve spent slightly over a decade developing this world, from races and cultures to histories and language. I’ve tried to create a world that feels real but doesn’t bog readers down in details, too much backstory, or overly detailed description. A lot of people shy away from 1000 page, multi-volume epics about heroic journeys; I like to think I’ve written an epic fantasy story for people who don’t have time for epic fantasy. There are pieces in this world that fantasy fans will recognize. You’ll find creatures inspired by Greek mythology, but they’ll have a different spin. You’ll see dragons, but they won’t be the fire-breathing monsters you expect. In essence, the races, monsters, and – really – the “fantasy” of it are just vehicles to tell a story about characters who struggle with fear, hope, and faith.
You mention that you borrow from various mythologies for you story. Can you give us an example?
I don’t think a fantasy book has been written since Tolkien that did not, in some way, pull from Norse mythology as he did. My hope is that I did it in a new, convincing way. In grad school, I sort of fell in love with Native American myth. For example, Cherokee creation myth tells why some animals are able to see at night while others become their prey: the panther kept watch and did not fall asleep as the other animals did. For this reason, I wanted to make sure every time we see Kertyah (a hunter who resembles a panther), he is always awake, always vigilant. That’s a very small, very specific example, but it’s a sample of the respect I have for all the tales that came before mine.
Do you have an anticipated release date for the sequel to 144:Wrath?
Book 2, 144: Redemption, is a work in progress (I’m about 3 chapters in). My hope is to have the book completed within 6-8 months for a fall release. It’s a tricky situation putting out a 2-parter for my first novel, because no one wants to wait five years for a second book. The first one took me just over a year to complete, but the last few months have been almost exclusively set aside for formatting. I did the e-book and hard copy formatting myself as well as the cover design… and a lot of that time was burned learning how. Now that I’m comfortable with manipulating formats and html documents, I’m much more confident that I can put the next book together before the year is out. The hardest part for me is focusing, because I has so many stories I want to tell. I really have to tie myself down and only work on one project at a time. Otherwise I’d have 6 or 7 half-written novels wasting space on my hard drive.
You and your wife worked closely together on this book. How would you describe that process?
My wife is amazing… all around, and this book would not have been possible without her. She did three separate, detailed edits on the manuscript (of the ten or so revisions that took place). She reads a lot, too, - about 3 books for every 1 that I read - so she was able to catch a lot of common mistakes as well as my own style flaws. She was my go-to resource for the romantic elements of the book, helping me to write a more believable young female character in Xandra, the Daughter of Hope. Important to the completion of the book was her support of me. We have a toddler at home, which keeps us both pretty well exhausted, but she was very good about encouraging me to put in an hour or two every night (except Tuesday night… that’s Parenthood night). Meanwhile, she’s working on her own book, a YA Paranormal, which she hopes to complete by the end of the year.
Any closing thoughts?
I'm really excited to have reached this point as a writer and a creator. I hope that within the next few years I've been able to expand a bit into a few other areas as well. I like to dabble in screenwriting and role-playing games and I have a fully developed strategy board game based on the 144 setting ready to go... once I find an artist. I hope you'll give the book a read, and if you like it, let me know. If not... well... I guess I have to develop thick skin at some point, right? Thank you for the opportunity to share a little bit of my work with you and your readers.
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Author and daughter. It was too cute not to share. :)