Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Looking for Dei tells the story of Nara, a 15-year-old girl. Nara is different, more so that she could ever imagine, and when she uses magic in an attempt to help her neighbors and friends, she is swept up in chaos. Through her adventures, Nara leaves childhood behind, confronting dangerous foes and a destiny that will shake the Great Land to its foundations.
It's a coming of age story, but Nara is not the only character that experiences growth-I have assembled a diverse cast to carry the reader on this journey. The novel also does more than entertain, but also seeks to inspire, tackling the subjects of abuse and neglect, showing us that fear and pain hold us back from great things-but only if we let them.
Looking for Dei stands quite well on its own but lays the groundwork for many more books in a robust world with great characters and a unique magic system.
Do you have a favorite character?
I think I like Bylo the best. He is Nara's mysterious, adoptive father. He's the quiet type, but he's brilliant and dedicated. He often feels overwhelmed with the weight of his responsibilities, and his burdens are significant, for sure. He is kind but self-sacrificing, and absolutely, completely dedicated to caring for Nara. As a father of five, I can identify with Bylo's struggles. Raising children is an adventure all its own, with ups and downs, and much introspection. Even when you're doing well it can seem like you are failing, and the work is so very important that failure is not an option!
And Bylo loves books. I guess that's what I like most of all about him. Books are wonderful.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
The primary reason was that I wanted to have complete control over the content in order to maintain the integrity of the story. Once you go with the traditional publishing route, you're basically selling your rights away, and your hands are tied in many ways.
Another consideration was that I love to learn and self-publishing offered the opportunity for a great challenge. I was forced to learn book design, cover design, and how to work with editors. I learned about different types of publicity, including working with brilliant bloggers, email book blasts, web design, and social networking. It's been an amazing adventure.
What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
When I'm writing I listen to Spotify's Country Coffeehouse or some acoustic guitar playlists but have it turned down quietly. I write mostly in the mornings before I go to work and again on Saturdays before my family wakes, often starting at 4 or 5 am. Peace is required for me to really get into the story and move forward, and I enjoy the gentle music. Oh, and I drink coffee. Lots of that. Makes the fingers move faster.
Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I do both. I build an outline, then invariably take tangents. It's amazing how I can envision a scene when I begin, but once I get into the creative process, it seems to have a mind of its own and it diverges significantly from the plan. I have often told myself that I can't wait to get back to writing because I can't wait to see what happens next in the story. It's as if I'm reading a story, rather than writing one, and it's wonderfully fun.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Oh yes. I highly recommend hiring an editor. Or two. I started with the typical friends/family review and made many subsequent changes. I then had a round of developmental editing with one editor, then two rounds of content/line editing by another. Finally, I had a proofreader go through the book twice.
No matter how confident I was about each version of the novel being right, there were many errors in each iteration hiding from me like little monsters. I could read a paragraph ten times and miss the same error each time, but the keen eyes of professional editors are invaluable on a project such as this. Worth every penny.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, there are. I really wanted maximum exposure so that readers everywhere could enjoy this story, so it's on Apple iBooks, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and others. There's even an audiobook produced by award-winning narrator Tanya Eby on Audible.com, Amazon, and Apple iTunes.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Gather your resolve to do it right, then don't let up. Self-publishing means that you are not going to enjoy the resources that a publisher would put into your novel. This includes their experience in the book industry, their contacts, their financial resources, and their name. If you are going to compete, you'll have to come up with a way to make up for the lack of these things.
It's difficult enough to write a great story, but now you must take on the role of publicist, developmental editor, line editor proofreader, cover artist, book designer, etc etc. If you're not willing to do these things properly and invest the required resources, it will be difficult to find success in the book business.
But it still might be fun. I've had an absolutely wonderful time, and I'm hooked!
Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
I have a big passion for faith of all kinds, of all flavors. I find it fascinating that religious thought has formed so much of our society, influences so many people, and yet is so poorly understood. Some people of faith are just going through the motions, but don't really explore it. Others dismiss it without really investigating it much at all. Still others are absolutely sure of their faith (or lack thereof) without even studying it. And others think the divine is completely unknowable. It all fascinates me.
I have also spent much of my life working for the benefit of children. My wife and I had three biological children and two adopted children and caring for them has been wonderful. Fun, heartbreaking, with alternating feelings of abject failure and complete victory, I recommend parenting to everyone. You'll never grow more as a human being then when you are a parent, completely devoted to the welfare of another human being.
I also have worked tirelessly for the benefit of children raised by other folks. Much of my professional life has been spent as a law enforcement officer investigating criminal cases involving child exploitation. I have a great passion for defending those who cannot defend themselves, and this has manifested in my efforts to work these cases. It's been difficult, but it has mattered to some people, and brought me a great pride of accomplishment. As hard as it has been, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
What's next for you?
I'm currently employed as a peace officer in Alaska, but retirement is getting closer and I anticipate that I will be spending more and more of my time writing novels. Looking for Dei will be followed by more in the same world, and I've entertained ideas for paranormal crime thrillers and maybe even some sci-fi. We will see!
Looking for Dei
David A. Willson
Publication date: March 23rd 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never liked secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift.
A gifted youth has not been announced in the poor village of Dimmitt for decades. When Nara uncovers the reason, she uses her own powers to make things right. The decision sets her on a path of danger, discovery, and a search for the divine. In the process, she learns the truth about herself and uncovers the biggest secret of all: the power of broken people.
David A. Willson has worked as a restauranteur, peace officer, and now, author. Taught by his mother to read at a young age, he spent his childhood exploring magic, spaceships, and other dimensions. In his writing, he strives to bring those worlds to his readers.
Much of his material is inspired by the “Great Land” of Alaska, which he has called home for over 30 years. He lives there with his wife, five children, and 2 dogs. He is passionate about technology, faith, and fiction—not necessarily in that order.
Looking for Dei is Willson’s debut novel, set in a land where many more adventures will take place. Stay up to date with his ongoing efforts through the Looking for Dei Facebook page or visiting the website at davidawillson.com.
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