Today’s special guest is author J.D. Hallowell. Anyone who knows me will know that the titles alone of his books would spark my interest. I adore dragons. And magic. So it’s a particular pleasure to be able to spotlight J.D. and his series about dragons and magic. I’ve added both of his books to my To Be Read list and hope to get to those very soon!
J.D. Hallowell is a 50-ish father and husband who is fortunate enough to have lived an interesting and active life. He’s had one two-book fantasy series, War of the Blades, published, and several other fantasy and SF projects are in the works. J.D. likes to keep many irons in the fire at once, so his work experiences include such diverse occupations as automotive mechanic, cowboy, photographer, psychiatric tech, paralegal assistant, bouncer, and medical billing clerk. He studied martial arts for over thirty years. He’s been a soldier and an emergency medical technician, and served as the chief of a volunteer ambulance squad. He was a diamond courier for a while, and later owned a working kennel where he trained dogs for law enforcement as well as personal protection. Most recently, J.D. trained one service dog for himself.
Read on for more about J.D. and his Dragon series!
J.D. doesn’t get around much now. “I’ve been shot, stabbed, blown up, bludgeoned, poisoned, and even had harsh language directed toward me, if you can believe it, and it takes its toll.” He has a pretty wide-range of interests and hobbies, including, but not limited to, history, archery, paleontology, cooking, RPGs (the games, not the weapons) and making jewelry. J.D. lives on the Space Coast of Florida with his wife, son, and Great Dane service dog, until he can convince the rest of his family and friends to move to Arizona.
You can find more info at J.D. Hallowell.
Dragon Fate, the first book in J.D. Hallowell’s War of the Blades series, is a heroic fantasy adventure in the classic tradition of the genre.
Delno Okonan is a young former soldier eager to put the swords and strife of war behind him, when a chance encounter leaves him inextricably entwined in a tangled web of dragons, magic, and intrigue, as he struggles to find his place among dragons and men, and stave off a plot by renegade dragon riders that threatens all he now holds dear.
Dragon Blade, the second book in J.D. Hallowell’s War of the Blades, is the epic conclusion to the story begun in Dragon Fate.
Delno Okonan, his draconic bond-mate, Geneva, and their allies among the Dragons and Riders are once again caught up in events controlled by unseen forces. They must uncover the real secrets behind the death of a senior Dragon Rider and the sudden rise of the Roracks, ancient enemy of dragons and men, to defeat a threat that could destroy them all and leave the world they know forever altered.
Now on to J.D.’s interview!
Maer: J.D. Thank you so much for stopping by to share some stories about your series. What inspired you to write this series?
J.D.: Dragon Fate is a very special book to me, because it marks the point where I made a radical change from being someone who wanted to be a writer, and who talked about being a writer, and who played around at being a writer, to being someone who actually was a writer and took it seriously. The book is the result of a major epiphany, and the inspiration and motivation for it clearly came from a higher power: my wife and son.
We have a long-standing tradition of reading books aloud together as a family, which has helped build family bonds and given us some wonderful shared memories, but which also has its practical side: it saves us from having to either buy three copies of everything we all want to read or wrestle each other into submission to be the one to read it first. By some complex set of rules that I have never quite managed to determine, I end up doing the bulk of the reading. We were working our way through a series by an author who shall remain un-named, and I kept coming across things in the story that I felt were inconsistent or that weren’t quite true to the way the characters or the universe had been presented earlier in the books…and it got to me. I started interrupting the reading to rant about it.
That did it.
They told me to put up or shut up. It wasn’t my story, and I didn’t get to decide what the characters did or how the story should go, and they weren’t going to listen to me complain about how someone else did things until I had proven I could do it at least as well myself.
Something clicked at that moment. I sat down that afternoon and started writing the book that would become Dragon Fate. I worked on it between 10 and 18 hours every single day for the next two and a half months until the story was complete.
They restored my complaining rights. I’ve been writing seriously ever since.
I don’t always know where the stories in my head come from, but often one gets in there and I can’t get it out any other way but to write it down. Like any other author, I’ve probably been influenced in one way or another by everything I’ve ever read or experienced, and I’m sure that there are a lot of things that have affected me profoundly in ways that I am not even aware of. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of dragons and the incredibly rich and varied mythology surrounding them, so it may have been inevitable that that the first thing I’d write that I felt was publication-worthy would be a book where dragons were central to the story. When I made that decision to sit down and write a book like my life depended on it, dragons were on my mind, and Dragon Fate is what came out.
Dragon Blade, my new release, was always planned as a continuation of the Dragon Fate story; I finished the first draft of Dragon Fate and sat down the next day to start writing Dragon Blade. The two stories really flow into one another, and the series was written because they are the kind of feel-good heroic fantasy books I love to read, and because I had to do something to get those complaining rights back.
Maer: Awesome answer. Could you please give us a one line synopsis for each of your books?
J.D.: Dragon Fate follows a young former soldier eager to put the swords and strife of war behind him, when a chance encounter leaves him inextricably entwined in a tangled web of dragons, magic, and intrigue, as he struggles to find his place among dragons and men, and stave off a plot by renegade dragon riders that threatens all he now holds dear.
In Dragon Blade, the epic conclusion to the story begun in Dragon Fate, Delno Okonan, his draconic bond-mate, Geneva, and their allies among the Dragons and Riders are once again caught up in events controlled by unseen forces, and they must uncover the real secrets behind the death of a senior Dragon Rider and the sudden rise of the Roracks, ancient enemy of dragons and men, to defeat a threat that could destroy them all and leave the world they know forever altered.
Maer: Do either of the books work as a stand-alone or are they definitely part of a series?
J.D.: Dragon Fate and Dragon Blade are both part of the War of the Blades series. Dragon Fate works as a standalone, but also sets the stage for the events in Dragon Blade.
Maer: Which of your characters, other than your MC, is one of your favorites to write and why?
J.D.: My favorite character to write is whichever one I am writing at that moment. If I don’t enjoying writing it, generally, you’re not going to enjoy reading it.
Maer: If you had to pick a color to describe your MC what would that be and why?
J.D.: “Not yellow,” is the closest thing to an answer to this question that you are likely to get from me. My characters, including my dragon characters, are people. People can’t usually be described by a few superficial qualities without it taking away substantially from the total picture of who they are.
Maer: Who are your favorite authors to read?
J.D.: Choosing a favorite author is almost impossible. It really depends on what I am in the mood for. I read a lot, and in many different genres, and for most of the authors I’ve read, there are books of theirs I liked and other books that I didn’t care for so much. For my “favorite” fantasy and SF authors, you could just start with Isaac Asimov and go through to Roger Zelazny. If I had to narrow it down, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert A. Heinlein, and Shelby Foote would be near the top.
Maer: Can you tell us anything about your current project?
J.D.: Sure. There are three dragon books that would all qualify for the title of “my current project.”
Dragon Blade is my latest release, and it is a little faster-paced and has more battles and “action” than Dragon Fate, but the story picks right up almost where Dragon Fate left off, and all the same central characters are there. Some characters who may have seemed relatively minor in Dragon Fate end up playing much larger roles in Dragon Blade. There are a few surprises along the way, and, intermingled with the action, you find out more backstory on many of the characters, not just Delno and Corolan, and you get some more of the history of the dragons and the Riders, too.
Dragon Home, the next book in line to be released, is the answer to the natural question raised by Dragon Blade: how are the existing power structures going to react to everything that just happened? This book took me a surprisingly long time to finish. I had all of the main story elements of Dragon Home in place by the time I finished the first draft of Dragon Blade, and I made steady progress on it, but I was seized by the muse more than once and forced to work on other projects that I couldn’t get out of my head until I got at least the basic frameworks down. It really feels good to finally have this one done, and I look forward to seeing it come out later this year.
Dragon Justice has a more complicated genesis, and it has some elements that are much darker and more violent than the War of the Blades novels. Although it is set in the same world and overlaps with to an extent with the timeline and events found in Dragon Home, and readers will encounter some familiar faces, the book follows different main characters and storylines. I’ve found that the more I write in a particular world or setting, the more I discover stories there that need to be told. This book was started after but finished before several others in the same general setting that I have in progress, including Dragon Home, and I was more than a little surprised to find that this was the book I completed first.
Maer: What do you do when you’re not writing?
J.D.: I mostly spend time with my family, if I’m not sitting around thinking up new story ideas. When I’m able, I enjoy speaking with community and veteran’s groups, educating them about service dogs, to help clear up the misinformation that is so widespread. I got my real-life adventuring out of the way early, and as a consequence, I’m pretty sedentary these days, so spending time online, reading, gaming, and doing research are my primary amusements lately.
Maer: What influenced you to write in fantasy? Do you write in other genres?
J.D.: Like every other writer, I’ve probably been influenced by everything I’ve ever read and experienced. I don’t think that I really get to decide what kinds of stories are going to occur to me. When your story has dragons and magical abilities in it, you’ll probably end up writing a fantasy. If it has aliens or a radical new technology that’s caused social upheaval, you’ll write science fiction. So far, I’ve been writing science fiction and fantasy, and a little horror here and there. Only the fantasy has been published so far. That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to writing a mystery or a thriller if I get an idea for one. I like to keep my options open.
Maer: J.D., do you listen to music when you write and if so what kinds?
J.D.: None. I like it quiet when I’m writing. If I listen to anything while I’m working, it has to be soft instrumental jazz.
Maer: Once again thank you fro joining us today. Do you have anything you’d like to add?
J.D.: One of the most unexpected, humbling, and gratifying parts of making the transition from being an aspiring writer to a professional writer has been all of the help and support from amazing, talented, and creative people who have helped me and believed in me along the way – bloggers; reviewers; my publisher; my remarkable family and friends; other authors; the participants on sites like Reddit, Goodreads, the G+ writing communities, Mythic Scribes, and the Amazon forums; and especially, my readers.
If I were to win major book awards and critical acclaim, it wouldn’t mean half as much to me as the letters and e-mail messages that I’ve gotten from readers telling me that they’ve found themselves staying up late reading my books. In the end, my goal is to write books that people enjoy reading, and hearing that I’ve succeeded in doing that means the world to me.