So, I’m super excited about this one! I’ve got an interview with indie fantasy legend Will Wight. If you’re not familiar with Will, he has just about the most rabid fan base of any author I’ve ever encountered. His last book, Underlord: Cradle 6, reached #5 in the overall Amazon Kindle store. That literally means it was the 5th best selling book at the largest book retailer in the world! Underlord has the best reviews I have ever seen for a popular book on Goodreads.com. Seriously, The Best Reviews I Have Ever Seen.
And you know what, Will deserves all of that. If you haven’t done it yet, I highly encourage you to start with Unsouled: Cradle 1 and figure out what all of this fuss is about. As you see in the interview, it’s definitely not my genre, but I absolutely loved the book.
Curious yet? Let the interview begin!
AC: Hi Will, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. First off, let’s get a quick overview of your books. You have the Cradle series, the Traveler’s Gate trilogy, and the Elder Empire series. Can you tell us a little bit about each series, and where do you recommend someone new to WW starts?
WW: I’ve had nothing but time since you captured me and put me in this cage, but nonetheless it’s great to be here! Traveler’s Gate was my first series, and it’s kind of my standard fantasy action story with swords, monsters, talking dolls, hummingbirds with deep and manly voices, etc. Elder Empire has a unique dual novel structure that causes lots of confusion, but besides that it’s ninjas vs. pirates in a Lovecraftian fantasy setting. Cradle is definitely where I recommend new readers start, because it’s my newest and most popular series, and it’s kind of a martial arts fantasy journey.
AC: This is a bit outside of my field, but your Cradle series is Wuxia, right? (Am I completely wrong about that?) Can you tell us a bit about that genre, and what inspired you to write in it?
WW: Technically I think it would be categorized as xuanhuan, which is a wuxia-adjacent genre that includes a lot of fantasy novels in settings based on Chinese mythology. But genre definitions are always very fluid, so there’s a lot of gray area. And there’s certainly a lot more than Chinese mythology in there; I draw a lot of inspiration from anime and Korean myths and traditions as well. It was largely the progression elements that inspired me to write something similar, and my clairvoyant powers tell me that I will be expanding on this answer very soon…
AC: Ah, xuanhuan. Xuanhuan is not my normal cup-o-tea, but I picked up Unsouled: Cradle 1 and really loved it. I think it was because Lindon is such a relatable character, even though he’s involved in a bunch of activities that I’ve never been involved in. Also, there’s this really satisfying sense of progression in the novel. It reminds me a lot of the new LitRPG genre, where people just like to read about a character “leveling up”. Is that typically part of xuanhuan, or was it something you worked in intentionally?
WW: Basically, there’s this whole collection of web novels around “cultivation,” which is kind of the mystical improvement of the self and your relationship to the universe. A lot of the original concepts come from Taoism. In these novels, it’s a system of growing more powerful and more connected to the world at the same time, so it’s basically a magic system and a setting centered around progression. I really resonated with that, but when I recommended a lot of translated Chinese web novels to my friends, they were turned off immediately by the prose or the cultural knowledge requirements. So I wanted to write a sort of hybrid between traditional fantasy novels and these Eastern cultivation stories in order to help bridge the gap to get people reading the real thing. Thus Cradle was born!
AC: You graduated from UCF with a Master’s in Creative Writing. Clearly, you intended to write, but I think that’s a bit unusual actually. Most of the writers I know began in some other career. Can you tell us what inspired you to study creative writing, and at what point did you know this could be a full-time career?
WW: When I was much younger, I saw a car hit an old, hooded woman on the side of the road. I rushed over to see if there was anything I could do to help, but as soon as she saw me, her eyes turned white and she began speaking with an unnatural resonance. “STUDY CREATIVE WRITING AND IT WILL BE YOUR FULL-TIME CAREER,” she told me, and then I called AAA for her.
…but it wasn’t until my first book sold enough copies to allow me to write full-time that I really believed it was possible.
AC: If the whole writing thing hadn’t worked out, what would Will Wight be doing?
WW: Professional Russian Roulette player.
AC: What’s your favorite book that you’ve written? I know, I know, that’s like asking which one is your favorite kid. Wait… do you have kids, tell us which is the favorite?
WW: My favorite book that I’ve written is always the next one. I keep looking forward to new projects and thinking of all the shiny new things I can do in the future. I don’t have any kids, but if I did, Bobby would be my favorite.
AC: What is your favorite book someone else has written?
WW: I don’t know about individual books, but I’m a huge fan of the Wheel of Time series and the Dresden Files series. There’s also that black leather book that keeps appearing under my pillow at dawn no matter how many times I burn it. I’ve tried to resist opening it, but it whispers into my ear all night…
AC: Your latest book was Underlord: Cradle 6, and I believe there’s a Book 7 in the works. I’ve also heard rumblings of more in the Traveler’s Gate world. Tell us, what is next!
WW: Book 7 of Cradle is certainly in the works, but I’m also trying to finish Elder Empire this year! I would also love to start a new series. Any new series. I just like starting new things.
AC: This doesn’t count as a brag because I’m the one saying it… Underlord: Cradle 6 debuted as the #5 best-selling book in the entire Amazon Kindle store. That’s bonkers for any book, but even more so for an independently published fantasy novel. I’m jealous, obviously, but I have to know what that is like! Does it change anything you do in the future — do you start calling Steven Spielberg?
WW: It was very exciting, but other than my own delight and entertainment, the only thing it actually changed was my introduction. Now, instead of driving new people away with my personality, I can speed up the process by saying “Hey, I’m Will, did I mention that my latest book was the fifth best-selling on Amazon on the day of its release? No? Well, buckle up, because I have pictures!”
And then by the time I get my phone out they’ve usually bolted through the nearest door.
Alright, that’s all I was able to subject Will to and he’s fled, but hopefully that gives you some insight into literally one of the hottest fantasy authors out there right now and gives you some encouragement to check out his books if you haven’t yet. Start with Unsouled: Cradle 1 and go from there. You can also find out more about Will at willwight.com. He’s got a lot of great stuff on the site, including an awesome store which I’ve been asking him about off the record!
Go get his books, and let me know what you think!