Recently I had the pleasure of reading White Trash Warlock, the first book in a wonderful fantasy series released in 2020 (read more here).
The book’s author, David R. Slayton, graciously sat down to answer my many questions!
Read on to learn more about David and White Trash Warlock.
What attracted you to writing? What’s your favourite thing about the process?
I’ve always been a world-builder, telling stories in my head as a kid. Writing became a natural extension of that, getting it on paper so I can share the places and people I create with others.
I love the raw brainstorming stage, when it’s just starting and I’m creating the characters and the trouble they’re in. I love exploring the fantasy worlds and coming up with ways to twist setting and the environment in as many creative ways as possible.
What inspires you, your characters, and the world you’ve created?
For White Trash Warlock, most of it came from personal experience. I try to give every character something they want, something to make them real. No one thinks of their story as less important, of themselves as a side character.
For the world, I used a lot of folklore or the superstition that I grew up with, but wonder too.
I always write from a place of what I want to see more of in stories, whether that’s fresh takes on old monsters, diversity, or just the kind of love story I want to read.
Are some of your characters based in reality or out of your own life?
Absolutely. There is a lot of me in Adam, the main character in White Trash Warlock, but I think all of my characters have a little bit of a real person or two in them. The most magical feeling is when they start making decisions and doing things I don’t expect, when I’m writing and the character goes in a new direction that surprises even me.
Who are the authors that you admire and why?
That list is very long! Authors are my rock stars. I could go on for hours. If I had to name a master, someone whose prose just transports me, I’d say Margaret Atwood or Lindsey Faye. I focus a lot on the books that leave me feeling something intense, like how Gail Carriger’s books always brighten my day or Darynda Jones makes me laugh. Stephen Blackmore creeps me out in the best of ways.
What is your favourite book/series and why?
Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye is my favorite book. It’s dense and literary. I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand it, but I read it every few years. In fantasy, I love Ursula Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea. She did so much in such a short book. Gail Carriger’s Soulless is my favorite love story.
Your current book series is fantasy. Do you or have you ever considered writing in another genre?
I’ve written a mystery, a thriller, a space opera, and tried my hand at a rom com. I feel that it’s important to stretch ourselves, to try new genres and learn from authors of all sorts. I don’t know if any of those projects will sell, but I’ve certainly advanced my craft by writing them.
At what point did you decide to write a series instead of a stand-alone story?
I honestly try to always write a stand-alone. Then the characters sort of get in the way. They want more page time, more to do, so I usually end on a hook. That said, I do try to always solve the main problem of the first book in that book in case the reader doesn’t want to come along, though of course I hope they do.
How do you approach planning and writing a book series?
I study the people who do it really well. Seanan McGuire is a master plotter, but the key is to take lots of notes, set up a wiki for yourself offline or a spreadsheet. Even then, I sometimes miss details. I was really happy to get a hold of the audiobook for White Trash Warlock so I could listen and make sure I had consistent details like a characters’ eye color in books two and three.
After writing Book 1, do you know your main character inside and out, or are you still learning and molding?
They’re always surprising me, even Adam. I think that’s important though. I get really bored with long series where the main character doesn’t show any growth. I want to see some evolution, especially my own. I’d like to think that even a character we hate can become interesting to us enough if we understand them better.
Now that you’ve begun writing the subsequent book(s), do you have any regrets about Book 1 or anything you wish you’d tackled differently?
There are some small things I’d change. I might have slowed the ending down a bit, but ultimately I’m very happy with it. I also have to let go of the desire to change it. Once it’s published, it’s done (except for small corrections in the ebook or next edition).
What’s something you wish you knew now that you didn’t before you started writing Book 1?
I wish I’d gotten better at plotting in advance. You can write a lot faster if you plot and outline ahead of time. My writing tends to go slower when I make it up as I go. There’s less rework if you plot and plan.
Are you working on anything else outside of this series?
I have a few epic fantasies that we’re shopping next year. There’s also a White Trash Warlock spin off series that we’re putting together on proposal. We’ll see if it goes anywhere. Beyond that my agent has all of my projects and she’s submitting them. She’s fantastic at letting me play in different sandboxes and try new things.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
That’s another long answer, but the main thing you need is persistence. Never give up and never let anyone take your writing from you, whether from rejection, negative feedback, or telling you there’s only one way to succeed. If you check out my blog at davidrslayton.com you’ll see some posts on this, including a recent one on how I did it and how I wish I’d done it or the things I wish I’d known.
Without providing spoilers, what’s your favourite thing or moment in Book 1 or the world you’ve created in general?
I really love Vic. He’s probably my favorite character. He’s a just a joy to write, mostly I think because his perspective is so different than mine or Adam’s. And because he’s not like me, he surprises me more often.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers, something important they should know?
I hope you like my books, and I hope they make you feel something. Most of all I hope I’ve entertained you for a bit, maybe given you a break from reality for a little while if you need one. Every email or tweet or message I get from readers who’ve read and liked White Trash Warlock has been a gift worth more than you can know.
Share an interesting fact (about you or just something in general that you find interesting).
I really am from Guthrie and grew up a lot like Adam. Like him I’m a high school drop out, though I’ve gone on to get three college degrees. The most important thing is that you’re never as alone as you think. The world is a big place and you can change your life if you want or need to. If you’re not in a good place, it can and does get better. Never give up.
I want to thank David for taking the time to answer all of my many questions so genuinely!
Working on your own manuscript? Need a second set of eyes to help catch those pesky mistakes?
Contact me for proofreading and editing help!
Thank you for sharing this time together. See you again soon.
Editor’s Note 1: I’m Canadian, so I’ve used Canadian English spelling in my questions. David is not, so I’ve left his answers as he wrote them in U.S. English to make life interesting! Stay tuned for a future post on English spelling variants!
Editor’s Note 2: I was not involved in the creative/revision process of this book, I just stumbled upon it, read it, and wanted to share. I hope you enjoy!