Author Spotlight – D. W. Ross (COLD FROM THE NORTH)
D.W. Ross is a Scottish writer of fantasy fiction. Unknown (until now), because he has been trapped in the self -doubt-riddled cage of his own brain. But now, those shackles are off and his debut novel, Cold From The North – An Onyxborn Chronicle is out now! He is currently polishing the second book in the Onyxborn series. When not writing or working his 9 to 5, he can be found watching wrestling, lifting weights, drawing terribly, reading, following the Houston Texans even though they cause him pain and most importantly spending time with his amazing wife.
Welcome to the Hive, D.W. Ross. Let’s start with the basics: dazzle us with an elevator pitch! Why should readers check out your work?
Because everyone likes a good adventure novel. So, lace the novel with battles, mountains, civil wars, magic and camaraderie then what do you have? You have a good time. Not only that, my wife liked it (or at least said she did), and she is not usually into this stuff, so if I can write something that she will like, then I think it’s worth a punt for fantasy fans!
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Oh, amazing question. For character class I’m gonna say I am a fighter. I very much enjoy being in the thick of it and in my regular game I played as a barbarian which was a LOT of fun. Weapon of choice is going to have to be a greatsword, cliche I know, but something about a fighter with a big blade is appealing. In saying that, I love the idea of playing with a mace and a flail. Ah, endless options.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (For example, in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Intense planner or is your system more organic?) Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
I like to write in silence and edit with music. So, complete deathly silence when I am in the midst of writing a whole new scene, the only noise will be the crackling of my sugar free irn bru in the can beside me. Then when I edit I go through phases, sometimes I listen to a seemingly infinite playlist made up of songs from games, fantasy movies and the like or I listen to instrumental metal, lo-fi beats or a thunderstorm playlist. Basically, no words, EVER, when I am writing or editing.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences?
I honestly don’t know what is the most significant influence. I seem to get inspiration and influence from a wealth of different places. I could be watching wrestling, see a cool move or a storyline and suddenly it’s warping in my head, turning into something I can write about, amending the angle to make it relevant and playing with it a little bit to see where it leads. Another influence was Dungeons and Dragons, this whole novel sprang out of a backstory for a character I had, without it I wouldn’t have got to this stage, so big shouts to my first DM for getting me hooked on it.
Old movies are a big part too. When I say old I mean 80s/90s and early 00s action.
The ones that had that perfect blend of cheesiness but all the action you could need to keep you hooked. Particularly the likes of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Troy, LOTR and Dragonheart, movies I would watch, rewind and watch again for days. I still get caught up in some of the fight scenes after the 100th time watching them. Honourable mention has to go to Braveheart, it’s about as historically inaccurate as they come but the battle scenes are incredible and I definitely picked up some things from watching them loads as a kid.
[Excuse this editor as she diminishes and goes into the West]
In terms of authors who have influenced me, there have been a few. I would say that Michael J Sullivan’s Legends of the First Empire has been a big influence, something about that series really hit me when I needed it and when I was getting to grips with the foundations of my writing.
As a self-published author, you have to encompass many roles yourself: what aspect of self-publishing do you find the most difficult? Alternatively, which have you enjoyed the most?
I find marketing the most difficult. It’s hard to stand out when there are so many books out there, but it’s something I am learning more about each day. The thing I love most is how welcoming the wee community is. I’ve crossed paths with so many great people since I started this journey and it’s been great.
Are there any fellow self-published creators whom you’d love to collaborate with?
Oh definitely. That’s one thing I would love to do is co-write some epic war novella with another self published author. Maybe once the Onyxborn Chronicles are done I’ll send some DMs and see what I can do.
What is your process for choosing a cover for your book? Do you have a clear idea of how you want it to look, or do you give your cover artist full creative license?
It was split down the middle. I had an idea of what I wanted – an axe, big words, nice contrast colours in the background. Then I gave that along with some references to my wonder designer Cherie Chapman who took the idea visual and brought it to life.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I just don’t write on those days. Instead I’ll read something, usually some non-fiction or a book from another genre, or I’ll play some video games and just let my mind settle. I work full time and write in my spare time so it can get quite hectic in my head sometimes, but I just embrace it now, it’s good to take some time away, come back with fresh eyes and whatnot.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
In my gym, binging some TV show (right now its late 90’s early noughties cult classic The Tribe), cooking a nice meal with my wife and letting my brain relax to prepare to dive back into writing.
One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why?
I am going to make one up. I want to cross a rhino with a giant eagle. Kind of like a rhino pegasus if you will. Thick hide to deflect projectiles, horn for ramming, two tonnes of pure brutal mass to knock things over and then wings for a swift getaway. I know that’s a long shot, but hey, could you imagine a kick ass warrior, all hell and fury riding that into battle. Yeah, I’ll have one of those.
Imagine the wingspan it would need!
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
I’m gonna do two – the first one is The West Coast by Kate Muir, it’s a coming of age story about a young boy growing up in Scotland and the tribulations he faces going from a small fishing village to wanting to see the big bad world.
Second, The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer. It’s a wild ride of time travel, disease, loss and hauntingly vivid detail. It brings every aspect of the time periods it covers to life in a way that I don’t think I’ll ever experience again.
Finally, can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
The second installment of the Onyxborn Chronicles is just about complete (in draft form) and about to be sent out for beta reading. Tentatively called The Darkest Dusk, and will hopefully be out in summer 2021.
Thank you so much!