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Green Light in the City

Author Interview: Dylan Wardle

31 January 21 interview: Kate Hewett

Kate Hewett talks to young author Dylan Wardle about Words of Solitude, his debut fantasy novel...

What influenced you to write your novel?
I had the ideas for Words Of Solitude for quite some time but what really triggered the artistic expressions was when I was in secondary school. It was Year Nine and I was in the library on my lunch break. Most of my friends preferred playing football or online games in the ICT rooms. I would usually go to the library. I was looking on the shelves for a new book to read, something that would keep me interested for a few weeks or so. I eventually came across Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring. I had heard so much about this franchise and was surprised I never really gave it a go considering I love fantasy! I decided to pick it up and ever since I have become obsessed to the point where I now have two tattoos of it on my arm! Ever since reading Lord Of The Rings it gave me hundreds of new ideas. Observing how Tolkien had crafted and created so much; a lot of modern-day fantasy originates from his works. That is the kind of legacy I’d like to leave behind! 

Which writers are you reading? Have any of them influenced this novel?
I read a lot of Neil Gaiman's works such as Norse Mythology.  It is his descriptions of the old Norse gods and their adventures that gave me many ideas about the different religions and creatures in my book too. Although there have been times where I have also taken great interest in more local authors such as Kim Slater. She was born in Nottingham and had published the novel SMART. This book was a winner of ten awards and was nominated for a total of 25. Seeing an author who came from the same city as me, do so well, really gives me the motivation to push my works as far as I could.

Why did you choose to self-publish rather than use the route of traditional publishing?
At first I was afraid. Going to a publication and submitting my work seemed daunting and frightening. I only wanted to publish my novel to see what kind of reception I would get. Would it be worth taking this to the next level in the future? I received amazing feedback: both constructive and praise. It made me realise that, whilst improvements need to be made, it is something that I definitely want to continue. The sequel, I hope, will be published the traditional way now that I know that my ideas have some merit.

Has the lockdown impacted you, in terms of reading and writing?
Not at all. Luckily, I have a laptop and all the books I want/ need in my accommodation. I am still able to go for walks, go for a meal somewhere or socialise with my flatmates. So, I have had no shortage of social interaction which I think is key when working on a book. Being glued to a computer screen or even pen and paper, can be damaging and in the long run and affect your motivation.

Can you talk about if being from or living in Nottingham has impacted you?
So first there was Kim Slater. Her work and how well she has done has been a tremendous source of motivation. Being from Nottingham has definitely had its benefits also! I have visited Nottingham castle numerous times when I was younger. Be it with my family or for school trips. As a lot of my writing surrounds fantasy, Nottingham has proved an excellent source of inspiration for this. You have Nottingham castle, the city of caves, the stories of Robin Hood and St. Mary’s Church. All of these historical links have their own incredible stories that are extremely interesting to read about!

Also, I feel as though I was lucky to go to Southglade Primary school in Bestwood. It was during my time there that I really started to discover and experience the world of literature. My teachers were not only kind and polite, but always pushed me to improve my writing skills. Teachers such as this are a rarity today but Nottingham is definitely a city that has no lack of polite and like-minded people.

The thought that one day, a group of friends could be sat having a conversation. It could be about anything. But for one of them to say “have you read this book by Dylan Wardle?” That is the dream.

How is your charity work related to your writing?
It wasn’t too long ago that I did a 36-mile run/ walk from Sheffield to Nottingham. Needless to say, my feet were in pieces after it! It took me a little under 9 hours. I did this for multiple reasons: to improve my own fitness, to prove to myself I could do something that seemed so daunting to others, to raise money for SaveTheChildren.

What linked the charity work to my writing was based on what I felt children deserve as a basic right. I may not be the best author in the world nor do I think my skills are perfect. But at the end of the day I can do what I do, when I want to do it, because I have grown up with luxuries that others do not have: access to clean water, education, reading materials etc. If I did not have these things then I very highly doubt I’d be where I am now. Studying at university, publishing a book. It wouldn’t have been possible if I was less fortunate. It is this problem that I wish was non-existent. Children all over the world should have access to all of these things regardless of race, social status and age.

How would you describe your writing process?
I like to plan a lot. I like to think that I am extremely organised. I will typically first create the world in which the book is set. I will craft the religions, the creatures, the family trees. A world so big that it leaves opportunities for future books. It is not until this is done, that I then begin to write. When I actually start to write a book or even a chapter, I do it on the spot. All I ask myself is these two questions: what’s going to happen? How will it affect the next book and/ or chapter? The rest I imagine as I write. It is not a difficult process and it can actually be quite exciting to see where my mind takes me. When a part is finished, I like to read it aloud to myself to see if it is consistent with the rest of the story.

What would you like readers to take away from your book, upon reading it?
Making money from selling a book isn’t bad. It’s the grease that allows the wheels to work. But what I truly wish for my book to do is to go on to inspire others. Just as Tolkien and Gaiman and Slater inspired me. The thought that one day, a group of friends could be sat having a conversation. It could be about anything. But for one of them to say “have you read this book by Dylan Wardle?” That is the dream.

For people to talk about my work, for them to enjoy it and be inspired by it. It’s not easy for everyone to write a book. Many authors also experience writers’ block. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t experienced this myself. I want someone to use my work to make their work better. To motivate them! It doesn’t just have to be about literature too. If anyone needs  a temporary ‘escape’ from life or a way to relax, if they chose my book to do so, that feeling would be immensely joyful.

Can you talk about the relationship between the cover and the title?
Without going into the story too much, Solitude plays a big part in the adventure. Finding peace and isolation, a way to defeat an enemy without simply defeating them in battle like a lot of stories play out. When thinking for a cover, I needed something that represented this. Something that visually defined the word ‘solitude.’ The woodland area with an empty sky above it was perfect for this. It showed peace and quiet, much of what you find when you go walking in the woods. It is a place that eases the mind and I thought this was an excellent representation of what solitude is.

What are your future plans?
For the sequel to Words Of Solitude I would like it to be backed by a publisher rather than self-published. This will be a difficult task but I know it can be done. I intend to write many more books in my lifetime and make more of a name for myself. I will definitely be doing more charity work in the future too and overall I hope to get more people into literature in such a technological age.

Words of Solitude is available on Amazon now

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