Author Spotlight – J.D.L Rosell (RANGER OF THE TITAN WILDS)
J.D.L. Rosell is the bestselling author of the series Legend of Tal, Ranger of the Titan Wilds, The Runewar Saga, The Famine Cycle, and Godslayer Rising. He has earned an MA in creative writing and has previously written as a ghostwriter.
Always drawn to the outdoors, he ventures out into nature whenever he can to indulge in his hobbies of hiking and photography. Most of the time, he can be found curled up with a delightful book at home with his wife and two cats, Zelda and Abenthy.
To check out his writing for free, you can pick up a series starter story bundle at www.jdlrosell.com.
Welcome to the Hive, J.D.L. Rosell. Let’s start with the basics: dazzle us with an elevator pitch! Why should readers check out your work?
Thanks for having me on, Fantasy Hive! I don’t know about dazzling, but I’ll do my best…
The short of it? I write character-focused stories with epic stakes.
Every story of mine simultaneously concerns the fate of a land or world while the characters try to achieve their own personal aims. I also take familiar and favorite themes and tropes and corrupt them, complicating the conventional portrayals and, hopefully, producing something new and interesting.
Tell us a little something about your writing process – do you have a certain method? Do you find music helps? Give us a glimpse into your world!
Is madness a method?
In all seriousness, I am a bit chaotic and messy in my approach. In my initial story drafts, I leave all sorts of notes in brackets, holes for minor character names, exclamatory epiphanies, and the like.
Because of this, I tend to have to read and revise my books five times or so before they’re of publishable quality. But they get there eventually!
Speaking of worlds, what inspires your worldbuilding? Do you have a magic system/s? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
Often, my worlds are extrapolated from real-world cultures. For example, Ranger of the Titan Wilds is based off of the colonization of the Americas, and the culture of the protagonist is a Spanish Empire analogue.
As mentioned above, I also like incorporating classic fantasy mainstays with my own twist. In Ranger, there are rangers (shocker!) that bear resemblances to the Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons varieties, but have many particular modifications for the world they find themselves in. An example of this is that part of their duties involved monitoring the activities of titans, massive spirit beasts that wreak havoc upon the land and pose a constant threat to their society.
As for magic systems, I’m particularly excited by Ranger’s. In concept, it’s quite simple. It’s based on the common idea that lifeforce fills each living creature, and it can be extracted and manipulated. In implementation, however, it’s a bit more unique. Magic is limited to lifeforce manipulation, rather than fueling spells of fire or wind (like in Eragon, for example). Boundaries and costs are vital to any magic system! That being said, some particularities of the world allow for some miraculous things. But I won’t spoil the book for you…
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy/sci-fi influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
Robin Hobb is my numero uno, hands down. Her characters, and especially their relationships with each other, are the absolute best in the genre.
Others include Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, N.K. Jemisin, and Naomi Novik (got a tweet from her once!), among many others.
We see such varying opinions from authors when it comes to the time of editing their books. How have you found the editing process? Enjoyable, stressful or satisfying?
It’s tedious, but satisfying. I love getting a book to its final, polished state, where it doesn’t look like such a steaming pile of… well, you know.
But the getting there… whew, that can be an exhausting journey!
We always appreciate a beautiful book cover! How involved in the process were you? Was there a particular aesthetic you hoped they’d portray?
Felix Ortiz is the master behind this one, so all credit goes to him! I requested the major elements (the ranger, the ash dragon, and an epic landscape) and supplied my influences (Lord of the Rings and Horizon: Zero Dawn), and he ran with it. I was quite pleased with how it turned out!
Can you tell us a bit more about your characters? Do you have a favourite type of character you enjoy writing?
This is a dangerous question, as I could go on for a long time about my characters… but I’ll try to keep things short.
My brother, who is presently reading/listening to my books, made the observation that I do have some common elements among my male and female protagonists. Neither the men nor the women conform much to gender stereotypes; in some way, they inevitably subvert standard masculinity and femininity.
For Ranger, Leiyn is, in many ways, what might be thought of as the prototypical masculine character. She is physically competent, rash, forthright, and verging on aggressive.
Yet femininity runs deep in her as well, which is often exposed when she feels emotionally vulnerable. To me, this is important to ground her as a strong female protagonist rather than a poor attempt at a male author writing a woman… which hopefully not what happened in this book.
I also love representation in fiction, and fantasy in particular needs more. In this instance, the character decided how that manifested for me. Leiyn is gay, and while it is only tangentially addressed in Ranger’s Rebellion, it will be much more central later on in the story, a point I’m excited to reach!
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?
Easily done! I’d start with a hike in the Rocky Mountains. Afterward, I’d have a good bout of video games (currently replaying Horizon: Zero Dawn). In the afternoon, I’d indulge in my new hobby of archery. For dinner, I’d round out the day with homemade pizza, a specialty in my household, and a relaxing evening with my wife and cats.
One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why?
It’d have to be some kind of large cat, like a tamed tiger or lion, in homage to my two cats, Zelda and Abenthy. Though, judging by how skittish they are, a tiger would likely make for a poor mount!
Tell us about a book you love. Any hidden gems?
Master Assassins by Robert V. Rodrick comes to mind. I read it on the recommendation of Mark Lawrence, and boy, am I glad I did. It has fantastic prose, complex characters, a fascinating world, and a plot you can never pin down. The brother relationship in it is beyond words!
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress? Have you any upcoming projects which you can share?
Currently, I’m working on finishing up a couple of series. Both Legend of Tal and The Famine Cycle should both be done by the beginning of next year, so long as I keep to my schedule!
I’m also editing Book 2 in The Runewar Saga and expanding on Ranger of the Titan Wilds, though official dates for those are still TBD.
Are you planning anything fun to celebrate your new release? Do you have any upcoming virtual events our readers may be interested in?
Nothing too much! As I’ve done a lot more intensive releases this year and this isn’t a full one for Ranger’s Rebellion, I’m keeping it low-key. But I always toast releases with a beer!
Finally, what is the one thing you hope readers take away from your writing?
This is something I think about a lot, as I want readers to have a good experience with my writing.
What I try to provide is a refuge from the world for a time, connection to characters and their novel experiences, and glimpsing a sense of wonder. That sense of immersion such as you get in a good book is like no other, and it was of vital importance to me growing up — and continues to be to this day, in fact! It’s my hope I can give the gift of catharsis to someone else.
Thank you so much for joining us today!