Author of the Blood of an Alpha
Blood of an Alpha, by Forest Wells releases today, October 10th, and I am excited to be chatting with the author about his books and all things writing. Welcome Forest. Let’s start with you introducing your new novel.
Forest: My new release is a novella called “Blood of an Alpha”. In this one, Toltan’s pack faces serious trials when they lose their alpha, and the new one is an arrogant fool. As things get worse, Toltan will find himself facing hard choices that could decide the fate of the entire pack. This one is actually a prequel to my first novel, “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, and has two other short stories that dig deeper into events we hear about, but never get much detail on. I had hoped to have it out by June or sooner, but it took a little longer than expected.
I am also working on a sci-fi called “Fog of War” that follows the one human and two holdren (alien foxes basically) crew of a Scorn heavy starfighter. If it helps, think of it as a fighter bomber with better weapons and armor. Anyway, just as 40 years of war with the alien nation of Marcalla looks to be ending, a new threat that may not be new at all looms over the horizon. The crew of Gold 1 will charge back into the flames of war as they always have to defend their homes and loved ones, but they may not come out unscathed this time. That one I didn’t expect to have out before September, and that was if things went perfectly. FYI; things NEVER go perfectly for me.
Helen: That was one of the lessons I learnt when publishing my first book. Things always take a lot longer than you expect, and you should give yourself plenty of time to get everything done. Setting unrealistic deadlines just puts unnecessary pressure on yourself. Congratulations on publishing your book, you did it! Was there a special meaning behind the title you chose?
Forest: Not really. In the first novel, Toltan talks to Luna about “Your blood. My blood. The blood of all wolves. The blood of an alpha.” When I look at the three journeys we follow, that theme felt central to all three. The characters all have “the blood of an alpha”, and their journeys touch that blood in different ways. As for the sci-fi, it just feels right, though it took me a while to find it. There’s a fair amount of doubt, or “fog” if you will, hanging around the characters. The title tells people that combat is a part of the story, but there’s more to it than just war and space battles, which is why despite what it looks like, it’s actually not a military sci-fi.
Helen: Who is your favourite character from your novels so far?
Forest: That would be the holdren Sundale from the sci-fi, but I still don’t know why. I only know that I love spending time with him any time I can. Especially when I get to dig deep into his mentality and emotions. I don’t know what else to say about that really.
Helen: You have two books out now, which genre do you prefer to write?
Forest: I tend toward sci-fi and fantasy because… I enjoy it? I’m not sure what else to say. I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek, Babylon 5, Starcraft, Narnia, Dragon Age, Dragon Heart, and so it’s fun for me to create my own worlds. I will say that I have an eaiser time creating worlds rather than playing in the real one, so that too is a factor. I get to set my own rules, and then play within them to tell the story I want to tell.
Helen: Creating new worlds is what I love about writing fantasy. Have you always wanted to write?
Forest: I was always writing, even as a kid in elementary school, but I didn’t realize what it was. Then 9/11 happened, the muse woke up, and I’ve been writing ever since. The stories won’t leave me alone, so I write them as best I can.
Helen: Strong emotional reactions tend to be a catalyst for many writers. Having awoken the need to write, how did you come up with the ideas for your books?
Forest: In the case of “Blood of an Alpha”, the two side stories are, well, side stories that couldn’t be told in the original novel because they weren’t part of Luna’s journey. One of them was in an original draft of “Luna” actually, but I realized that because it left Luna’s perspective, it damaged the story too much so it had to go. Similarly, the original draft showed us how Luna’s pack came to be where they are before he was born, but it was too slow and took too much time to develop before he ever got to meet Luna, much less begin his journey. But I didn’t want to just shelve those pages never to use them again. So I expanded those set-up page into its own story that is now “Blood of an Alpha.” But the last half or third of it is actually the original start of “Luna, The Lone Wolf”.
In general though, my ideas mostly come from random thoughts or feelings. My sci-fi was born because I was tired of the “heroes” we were getting. They were always misfits, downtrodded, broken (one way or another), worn-down, unrespected, unlikable, arrogant, or straight up criminals. I wanted a hero like that line from the original “Duck Tales” TV show; “Real heroes just do their job.” I couldn’t find one, so I set out to make one. Not sure if he stayed true to that as he evolved, but that’s how it started.
But it tends to be purely random. A writing contest makes me think of a different angle on werewolves, my desire to see wolves protected gave birth to a story about a wolf who learned how to face and evade hunters (it evolved into what became “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, but that’s how it started), looking at dusty Zoid models made me think of some long forgotten weapon depot that someone finds, things like that. My personal is how a line from Shrek gave me an idea. “You’re a GIRL dragon. I mean… of COURSE you’re a girl dragon.” Suddenly, the old fairy tales of a princess locked in castle guarded by a dragon made sense. From that came a story about a dragon with her own journey to take. And that’s all you’re getting on that one for now. Sorry. 😉
Helen: I love that you are interested in wolves for themselves and that interest drove you to write the book, and of course, any book with dragons has to be good! How does writing fit into your daily life?
Forest: I write when I can, think when I can, and be perfectly fine with not doing a thing for a protracted period of time. Experience has taught me that I do worse when I force things, not better. So I’ve learned to use distractions to center myself so I can write at will more often, but I’ve also learned to let things be. Thus far, sooner or later, the words come back to me.
Helen: Are you a writer who prefers back ground noise or silence? Do you have a playlist you use when writing?
Forest: Heh heh, that’s a VERY long list. But sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Music can help me get into a scene better sometimes, and other times I need the silence to really process the, “okay, how does this NEED to go?” thoughts that make it all work. As for the music itself, it’s a long mish-mash of tunes, soundtracks from games/movies/TV shows, and other instramentals that fit the feeling I need to conjure at any given moment. Whether it’s League of Legends, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Ace Combat, Rambo, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Fox Amoore, or Two Steps From Hell, if it fits a mood I need, it will be played at some point.
Helen: How much research do you need to do for your books?
Forest: As much as I need. That sound like a cop-out, but it really isn’t. Mostly because I’m not sure how to exactly quantify it. I look up what I need for the needs of the story. My first novel just needed some research into wolves, most of which I knew because wolves have always been a passion of mine. The sci-fi… whew. That thing has sent me digging into technology, science, and tactics like nothing else. But I never dug more than I needed, and I think it’s served me pretty well so far. I have enough to tell the story and build the world enough for the reader to enjoy. Now for “Luna”, my written notes were pretty minimal. For the sci-fi, I have 30 pages of notes JUST about my alien foxes. So it depends on the needs of the story a bit too.
Helen: That’s not a cop out at all, each book is different. The trick is not to get lost in the research, but it sounds like you have that under control. Talking of control, do you find yourself planning your books, or letting them evolve as they will?
Forest: Oh total panster. There is no plan. I have at most a general idea of how a story will end (though that doesn’t always remain in tact) and a few highlights along the way, but zero idea how I’ll get there. So in many ways, it’s more like I’m reading my work that writing it. It can be fun in that way, but also annoying when it’s clear the story knew things but didn’t bother to tell me. The story knew the real back-bone to “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, I could see it in the evolution of the story, but it didn’t let me see it until a few months before publication. Similarly, the uniforms for my sci-fi military always had a sash sewn into them. For years I thought it was purely decorative. Then the story finally admitted that it’s also an emergencty air supply. May not last long, but even five minutes can be enough to get to an air tank or be rescued. It always knew, but it didn’t tell me. Panster.
Helen: What is your favourite book and why do you like it so much?
Forest: It’s not so much one as a series. Jane Lindskold’s Firekeeper series really got me energized about writing canine characters, as well as fantasy in general. But the main thing is that she is an expert at weaving intricate and detailed plot lines that are totally separate, only to have them crash together for the climax. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying the read.
Helen: If you didn’t write in sci-fi or fantasy, then which genre would you like to try and write in next?
Forest: Oddly enough, I actually have an idea for a murder mystery. I’ve loved shows like NCIS, The Rookie, Columbo, and others, and I wouldn’t mind giving it a try someday. No idea if I ever will, but still. It would be a fun challenge to write.
Helen: That sounds intriguing, I hope you get the chance to write it. We’re nearing the end of our chat now, tell us something anecdotal about yourself..
Forest: I got the chance to do a reading at a VERY small bookstore up in Joshua tree. There weren’t many people there, and I only sold one book, bit it still felt like a worthwhile trip. To this day I don’t know why, but I do know that it was one of the first times I really felt like a published author. Kind of like being on the other side of the signature table. It’s also been a reminder for me to not be too proud about my appearences. Especially as a new author, but even if I ever do “make it big”, I hope I never get so proud as to say no to such a venue. After all, it’s where I came from. I hope I never forget that.
Helen: I bet that was the best feeling ever! Thank you so much for joining me today. Just to close us out, what advice would you give to new writers?
Forest: Well that could take an hour. Lol. You’re going to hear A LOT of “do this, don’t do that” as you develop. At least 50% of it won’t apply to you or your story. But as you get better, you’ll learn which ones to heed and which to ignore. Like the popular GIF says, “The code is what you call guidelines than actual rules.” Until then, be a sponge. Absorb any little tib-bit and fragment you can into your ball of clay that you use to create. Don’t be afraid to stash freelancers and other resources for future reference. I’ve sat on a few for years until it was time to call on them. It was worth the stash. Also; you DO NOT have to write every day, but I recommend you try it first. Even if you turn out to be one of the many who can’t write like that (despite what you’ll hear, there are plenty of highly successful writers who don’t), the attempt will help you develop your own tricks and ways to help your write more often than you normally would. Writer’s block IS a thing for some, but it can also be an excuse for others, so be wary of which it is for you. There is no such thing as an “aspiring author”. You write. You’re an author/writer. Own it. The terms are inerchangable and do not need a quantified beyond, at most, “published or unpublished”. And finally; I don’t care how Steven King or any author you name writes. You will NEVER be them, and they will NEVER be you. Write like YOU, and you’ll be fine.
About the Author:
Forest Wells is an author with dysgraphia, but those things don’t go together, which is why he did it anyway. He specializes in stories that focus on the emotions and personal journeys characters face regardless of the genre he’s writing. All of which is fueled by his deep passions for all things wild canine, sci-fi and fantasy, and really any well told story. When he’s not writing, or helping with his parent’s Girl Scout troops, you’ll find him watching his favorite NFL and NHL teams, watching E-sports, or gaming himself. Assuming he’s not caught up in the biggest of all procrastinating tools: Twitter. His first novel Luna, The lone Wolf was released in April of 2019, but he had a few short stories and poems published in anthologies before that. He currently lives in his home town of Thermal, California.
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Blood of an Alpha
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