Pushed Through Extraordinary Circumstances

Dylan Madeley
Dylan Madeley Author Interview

The Fate of Lenn continues to expand the world created in the Gift-Knight series with a focus on Duke Lenn Wancyek. What motivated you to write a book exploring this character?

Lenn and Zinnia appear in “flashback time” of The Gift-Knight’s Quest and they never got a complete story until now. In their first appearance, they represent intense action experiences to break up the longueurs of Derek riding to ruins, riding from his old home to his new one, and chewing the scenery. The same is true to a lesser extent for King Jonnecht the First and General Conrad, who both get a fuller story told in Prince Ewald the Brave. But the point is, an entire time period and situation were presented there that set the stage for the original trilogy. There was enough going on to deserve its own book. This time, instead of presenting a Lenn and Zinnia who are combinations of myths and legends and disputing historical records and whatever Derek might imagine them to be, I wanted to show you the reality that later got mythologized. Duke Lenn Wancyek, with a widow’s peak, a tummy, doubts and depression, well-liked but not exactly suave, and just handling life and responsibilities as best he can. A human being pushed through extraordinary circumstances.

What were some driving ideals behind Duke Lenn Wancyek character and evolution?

He is best known in the original trilogy for being a historically important figure who is willing to risk everything for a people not his own and a lover he only knows for a brief time. He recognizes that something terrible is in progress, and he expects nobody else to do much about it, yet he has the power, the privilege to do something. I needed him to be someone who understands that leadership is a role of service, one which comes with privileges that enable his work and compensate him for the burdens it places on him; Prince Ewald seems to understand the same, it is a running theme among my leader characters who have good intentions. I needed people’s lives to matter to him, not just people in his dukedom or the broader kingdom but people in general. He needed to be expertly capable of using deadly force yet reluctant to do so, because it’s a decision he can’t take back, and it tends to occur in situations that risk his own life as well. He always reaches for lofty ideals but has to work within the real, and the disparity between the two frustrates him, comparable to his descendent Derek–someone he must posthumously inspire. Most importantly, Lenn had to be the kind of person where even if it seems to be too late for him, if his situation looks no-win, he still finds the people who look like they have a chance, people he loves and people in need, and he does what he can for them. He is not the kind of person who says, “It’s too late for me, so I don’t have to care about anyone or anything else anymore.” And if it’s not too late for him to help a noble cause, perhaps it’s not too late for him after all.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun creating?

This is a tough call because I present a variety of scenes where I enjoyed different aspects for different reasons. Sometimes it’s simple: I like to choreograph a good barehanded fight because it lets me think back to my decade of commercial martial arts experience and how I would describe moves that I practiced and sometimes successfully executed in training. I also liked the entire arc of the musicians coming together to make something unique and beautiful, because I have spent so much of my spare time in the past twenty years hanging out with musicians, seeing them build something together, and always feeling like I could witness history in the making just by being their friend–yet it was so satisfying to produce this fictional account where people with completely different backgrounds and sounds figure out how to coexist and produce something brilliant. Lastly, I will admit my visceral gratification any time I got to write someone taking the piss out of Sir Wolter, whose reputation as a ridiculous man is so widespread that General Conrad took time to throw him some shade in the previous book of the series (Prince Ewald the Brave). Sadly, all the jokes in the world can’t exorcise the toxic mindset he represents and the legacy it has left/the influence it still has on the world today, but sometimes humour is the most scathing weapon I have.

Do you have future books planned for your Gift-Knight series?

At the moment, I do not. I will say this: there are two significant loose ends left between this book and its predecessor which suggest that more story could be told, and the words of Alathea herself in The Crown Princess’ Voyage summarize how those loose ends are tied together. But could it be wrapped up in a few short stories or a novella? The main reason I’m not looking at a full seventh book to the series right now relates to something you pointed out in your review, that these books do not just read like historical accounts. They are supposed to be more than that. I always have messages and ideas in mind, even if the reader doesn’t agree with them or if I don’t present the message clearly. The Gift-Knight Trilogy is about two people who have reasons to hate each other finding a way to work together because greater things are at stake, and the series has opinions about different people finding ways to coexist respectfully, without losing any of the variety and uniqueness that makes the world such a beautiful and interesting place. The prequel trilogy has a lot to say about service-minded leadership versus entitlement, and also the power of young people to either save or ruin their world depending on what guidance and support are available to them; also, the power of their elders to shape what’s to come, and how that’s a complicated process fraught with peril. But, returning to the idea of a seventh book. If I wrote one to tie up those loose ends, which would primarily be about Jarek (the reader may wonder what happened to him and there’s a reason it went unsaid) and Elcimer (the man to whom King Jonnecht offered to sell weapons and soldiers’ services) and the drama surrounding each of them before they meet on the battlefield, all I know right now is a history. “Here’s what happened, here’s the final groundwork of the world we see by the time Derek and Chandra get to have their story.” I don’t know what the intended message is or how it could be any different than what’s already presented. Or how it even upholds the messages already presented, for that matter. Idea-wise, it could easily become “a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing”, and I’m not currently interested in writing a book where I don’t even know what the broader message is. Maybe one day, if I find myself with a large fandom that craves it, I will bring that out for them. But right now it’s not even close to happening. I did release two books in a year and knowing little else of the situation someone might imagine I can pump another out, but my first drafts tend to sit for years before I know what they need. I don’t currently have any complete rough drafts ready for reworking.

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Future generations will mythologize Duke Lenn Wancyek, but he is a person like any other. He feels hope, worry, loss, pain, and the weight of a kingdom on his shoulders. When his responsibilities place him in a catastrophic situation from which he may not escape, his values will resonate through his actions more thoroughly than any speech he could ever make.

You will meet everyone who looks to him and you will see their struggles which run concurrent with his: a friend and adviser who wishes to steer him right; three musicians who think they have landed the greatest job in the kingdom; a gardener who does so much yet asks so little; a woman who works to free her people. The list goes on, but time grows short.

You will meet the man who becomes the legend. You will know the fate of Lenn.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on November 20, 2021, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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