Author Interview: Django Wexler

Today I am interviewing Django Wexler, author of the new epic fantasy novel, The Infernal Battalion, final book in The Shadow Campaigns series.

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DJ: Hey Django! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Django Wexler: Hi! I’m Django, and I write fantasy — currently military fantasy in The Shadow Campaigns and middle-grade fantasy in The Forbidden Library. In my previous life I was a software engineer, and I’m a heavy gamer of almost every sort.

Django: It’s always hard to summarize without too many spoilers! The series centers on a brilliant, charismatic young officer, Janus bet Vhalnich, who rises rapidly to supreme command when his kingdom is convulsed by revolution. Underneath the politics, though, supernatural undercurrent loom large, and eventually break through to the surface.

DJ: What is The Infernal Battalion and then The Shadow Campaigns series about?

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Django: It’s always hard to summarize without too many spoilers! The series centers on a brilliant, charismatic young officer, Janus bet Vhalnich, who rises rapidly to supreme command when his kingdom is convulsed by revolution. Underneath the politics, though, supernatural undercurrent loom large, and eventually break through to the surface.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Shadow Campaigns series?

Django: The most obvious was George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. After reading the first three books, I had the idea that I wanted to do something vaguely similar — I admired the way he’d taken the knights-and-castles fantasy back to its historical roots, and I wanted to do something historically based, with just a light touch of magic. Later I read David Chandler’s The Campaigns of Napoleon, and that seemed to fit the bill — it’s such a good story.
Another strong influence was S.M. Stirling’s books. He did a series with David Drake called The General, which is an SF retelling of the campaigns of Belisarius, and that got me going in the vein of historical retelling.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them? Aka: What makes them compelling?

Django: Compelling is really up to the readers to judge! There are basically three main characters:

Marcus d’Ivoire is the closest to Janus, and often acts as the Watson to Janus’ Holmes. He’s gruff, loyal, and occasionally socially awkward, which to me is kind of endearing. He always seems to be out of his depth — while he’s a trained army officer, he gets put into a lot of crazy political or supernatural situations.

Winter Ihernglass is a young woman disguised as a man in order to join the army. Early on she gets put into a position of some authority by accident, and she has a talent for command, so she keeps getting promoted somewhat against her will. She’s constantly struggling with both the implications of her secret and the responsibilities that keep landing on her, and as the series goes on we get a better look into her history as well.

Raesinia Orboan turns up in the second book. She’s the heir to the throne of Vordan, but carries a dark secret — when she was fatally ill, the scheming Duke Orlanko saved her with demonic magic that makes it impossible for her to die or age, and now hopes to use this as blackmail to control her. To escape, Raesinia ends up starting a revolution against her own government!

DJ: What is the world and setting of the The Shadow Campaigns series like?

Django: Since the novels are based on the Napoleonic wars, the world is roughly based on the Europe of 1790-1815. Technologically, that means gunpowder, flintlock muskets, and mobile cannon, but not yet rifled artillery, steam engines, railroads, or electricity. Our main setting, Vordan, is a kind of fusion of England and France culturally, with a traditional absolute monarchy that’s rapidly being undermined by shifting social forces.

DJ: Can tell the readers about your magic system, please?

Django: Magic is largely hidden in this world, with most character not actually believing it exists. The nature of it is hotly debated between cultures and factions, but the gist is pretty simple — there are “demons” (or spells) that a person can invoke by reading a “name”, a long string of nonsense syllables. This is extremely taxing, but if the reader survives, they gain supernatural power of one particular type. (For example, the ability to heal any wound, the power to make brilliant speeches, the ability to walk through shadows, or the power to communicate with a specific person over any distance.) Each person can have only one demon at a time, and each demon can be bound to only one person at a time. Demons not bound to someone can also appear in the wild, attached to children, without being invoked.

DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first four books of The Shadow Campaigns series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?

Django: Mostly pretty good, I’ve been fortunate! There’s a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of The Guns of Empire that people gave me a little flak for, but I’m hoping now that The Infernal Battalion is out they’ll forgive me.

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Infernal Battalion?

Django: Honestly, it’s great to finally be here! I’ve had the series outlined for five years or so, and being able to actually write the ending I vaguely sketched out so long ago is kind of an amazing feeling.

DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing The Shadow Campaigns series? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?

Django: I generally don’t like to write with a message, per se, or things get too didactic. But a big part of why I wanted to write this series was to think about the nature of loyalty. I’m fascinated by the ability of certain leaders (Napoleon, for example) to get people to follow them even when things have gone terribly wrong, even in the face of disaster, and I wanted to write a series that explored how that worked and how different characters would react.

DJ: I’m always curious when authors finish a series, how close to the original course they stayed when it is finally completed or if it ended up evolving and changing. Did the plot stay the same as you had first imagined it? How about the ending? The evolution of your characters?

Django: It depends on what you compare to. The very beginning of this series was almost completely different from where it ended up — Winter was a late addition, and the plot was supposed to much more closely parallel historical events. I never got very far with that version, and I did a lot of tinkering as I was writing The Thousand Names. After I finished it, I wrote outlines for the remaining books in the series, and at that point things were pretty well set — I’m actually shocked at how close to those original outlines the results have ended up!

DJ: Now that The Infernal Battalion is released, what is next for you?

Django: I’ve got new series to work on! I’m doing a YA fantasy, tenatively titled Deepwalker, about a girl who gets dragooned into trying to capture a legendary ghost ship. That’s out in Jan 2019. Later that year, I have another epic fantasy series coming from Orbit!

DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?

Website: http://djangowexler.com/
Twitter: @djangowexler
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/django.wexler

DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!

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*** The Infermal Batallion is published by ACE Books and is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Barnes & NobelGoodreads | Kobo

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About the Book:

Military might and arcane power clash in Django Wexler’s thrilling new Shadow Campaigns novel.

The Beast, the ancient demon imprisoned beneath the fortress-city of Elysium for a thousand years, has been loosed on the world. It absorbs mind after mind, spreading like a plague through the north. The fell army it has raised threatens the heart of Vordan, and it is under the command of the Beast’s greatest prize: legendary general Janus bet Vhalnich.

As Queen Raesinia Orboan and soldiers Marcus D’Ivoire and Winter Ihernglass grapple with the aftermath of a hard-fought military campaign, they soon discover a betrayal they never could have foreseen. The news arrives like a thunderbolt: Janus has declared himself the rightful Emperor of Vordan. Chaos grips the city as officers and regiments are forced to declare for queen or emperor.

Raesinia must struggle to keep her country under control and risks becoming everything she fought against. Marcus must take the field against his old commander, a man who has seemed an unbeatable strategist. And as Winter recovers from her injuries and mourns her losses, she knows the demon she carries inside her might be the only thing standing between the Beast and the destruction of everything in its path….


About the Author:

Django Wexler graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research. Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books. When not writing, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts.


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4 thoughts on “Author Interview: Django Wexler

  1. Damn man! You get some fantastic authors to interview.👌

    Like

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