Author Interview: Glen Dahlgren
1. What is the first book that made you cry?
The first piece of literature that deeply affected me that I can remember is the Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaimen. He’s a powerful fantasy/horror writer that has penned comic books, novels, and screenplays. If you are able to get any writing advice from this man, take it.
2. What is your writing Kryptonite?
If I’m not entirely happy with how the story is developing, I cannot write. I come from a game design background, and I’m used to noodling with design problems until I tease out the best solution. Usually, I enjoy the exercise, but with writing, this can hold me up for days. And then I start feeling like I’m not making progress, which makes it harder to focus.
Luckily, the time working the problem in the background eventually helps. The end results are much better for the consideration. I think if I just barreled through for progress’ sake, I’d be much less happy with the end product.
3. Who is one author are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
The person who changed my trajectory on my debut novel was Christine Brownell. She’s an author and game designer as well, so we have similar approaches. She stripped some elements bare and gave me the advice I needed when I needed it.
4. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Get moving! It took me 20 years to complete my first book. Of course, I was trying to fit it into a much more packed schedule then, but still! Also, focus on characters. I’m a plot guy—I know this—but characters are the reason that people connect with a story. The final draft of my book, the Child of Chaos, pays a lot more attention to my main character’s emotional and development arc than all previous 18 years of writing. Now, he holds his own against an incredibly compelling villain.
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It hasn’t yet—my first book is due out this summer—but the inevitability of its release has made me take the entire process more seriously. I’m 65K words into writing the prequel, and I expect to release it next year. I wasn’t even sure if I could write another book after my first, but I think I’ve permanently shifted gears now.
6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? If you have not made any money, dream about it?
I’m working with people from my gaming career to help my career as an author. For example, I’ve contracted Cindy Wentzel—an artist from my days at Legend Entertainment and a dear friend—to create my cover. She’s very talented, and she’s able to make my vision come alive. So instead of a pretty but pre-made and generic cover, the Child of Chaos will have an equally beautiful, but also specific and meaningful cover that teases the characters and story. It promises something extraordinary that the book is able to fulfill.
7. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I guess I would have to say my cat Goldie who just jumped up into my lap as I was writing this. She’s been a loyal friend throughout the years of developing my writing, and she’s always there for me.
8. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
My debut novel, the Child of Chaos, will be published in Summer 2020. The prequel, Game of War, will be published sometime in 2021. After that, I fully expect Book 2 in the Chronicles of Chaos to ship, likely in 2022. If you can’t tell, I really think this world has legs!
9. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
I attended a conference where the storytellers from Pixar described their process of construction and presentation of story. Some people were upset to be told the exact rules they follow. Not me. Of course they weren’t saying that everyone needed to do the same, and more information is always better than less. I’ve encountered a lot of fuzzy writing advice, and I appreciated how specific they were. There were definitely a few gems in that talk that I use today.
10. How do you select the names of your characters?
Sometimes, I just put letters or syllables together to see how they sound. Other times, I take traditional names and change them just a bit. And then I give them the name and let them live with it for a while. The character usually lets me know if they don’t like it.
11. What is your favorite childhood book?
I was fascinated by tons of epic fantasy books, pretty much everything I could get my hands on. Piers Anthony’s Adept and Xanth series were staples. I wrote my high-school senior thesis on the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I read all of David Eddings, Orson Scott Card, Tad Williams, Terry Brooks, and many, many more.
If I had to choose one book, maybe it would be something from Terry Pratchett like the Color of Magic. He combined interesting characters, biting humor, and meaningful themes to create stories that I couldn’t put down. The world lost a treasure when he passed.
Biography of Glen Dahlgren
Glen Dahlgren is the author of the young-adult fantasy series, the Chronicles of Chaos—a passion project that is the culmination of Glen’s lifelong love of fantasy and years of experience releasing compelling characters into fascinating worlds and describing what happens.
Wearing slightly different hats, Glen has written, designed, directed, and produced award-winning, narrative-driven computer games for the last three decades. What’s more, he had the honor of creating original fantasy and science-fiction storylines that took established, world-class literary properties into interactive experiences. He collaborated with celebrated authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (The Death Gate Cycle), Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time – soon to be a TV series from Amazon), Frederik Pohl (Heechee saga), Terry Brooks (Shannara), and Piers Anthony (Xanth) to bring their creations to the small screens. In addition, he crafted licensor-approved fiction for the Star Trek franchise as well as Stan Sakai’s epic graphic novel series, Usagi Yojimbo.
When Glen isn’t designing games, he teaches a course on the subject every summer to international students at UC Berkeley. Glen also likes to read, play computer games and volleyball, and compose music—either synth-heavy sci-fi themes or renaissance fair tunes for some reason. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his lovely wife and two teenage children, who all happen to be the perfect ages to enjoy his fantastic yarns (that means everyone can enjoy them–you get it).
“This is what fantasy fiction should be.” –Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author and fantasy legend Galen loves dreaming up stories, but he never expected to be pulled into a nightmare. An irresistible longing drags Galen to an ancient vault where, long ago, the gods of Order locked Chaos away. Chaos promises power to the one destined to liberate it, but Galen’s dreams warn of dark consequences. He isn’t the only one racing to the vault, however. Horace, the bully who lives to torment Galen, is determined to unleash Chaos–and he might know how to do it. Galen’s imagination always got him into trouble, but now it may be the only thing that can prevent Horace from unraveling the world. “There is a quality of imagination and detail here that impresses me. This is no ordinary sword and sorcery story. [Glen Dahlgren] is a novelist who I think will become more widely known as his skill is appreciated.” –Piers Anthony
Book Review written by Katherine E. Soto
Child of Chaos by Glen Dahlgren
On a world where everything is ordered, where the priests are on top, and no one can go beyond their birth levels, an adventure begins with one young man. He does not want to be a fisherman like his father. He and his sister go to the Temple of Charity to see if they can become acolytes and gain something above their level of birth. His adventure from the temple leads him across his world to the Gods of War and Evil. He realizes that things should change in his world. He is drawn to the Temple of Chaos where he accidently starts a series of events that will change his world forever.
I enjoyed reading this novel. It is full of surprises. It is YA oriented and stays within a young person’s purview. It is full of adventure and characters I would not mind hanging out with, including some who I would have nothing to do with, or would clobber with a club on sight. The author has many ways to choose from for sequels or prequels to this book. If you want to read a fantasy adventure that rocks, read Child of Chaos.
Contact Glen Dahlgren