D. E. Williams began her writing journey at an early age but didn’t consider being an author until later in life. While working full-time as a software trainer, she honed her writing craft on her off-hours and went on to publish an award-winning science fiction novel, Child of Chaos, in 2015. Chaos Unleashed (2018) is the second book in the Chesan Legacy series. Visit Dollie on her website at DollieWilliams.com and on Facebook, and read about book one and the journey to publication in her 2017 SWW interview.
What is your elevator pitch for Chaos Unleashed?
“A young assassin risks everything to save her friends and find the truth about her past—and her future. The cost could be her life, but will it be enough?”
What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
Connecting this continuation of a complex story without dropping important lines was the most difficult challenge. Because the story is told from two perspectives, the other big challenge was to keep the story moving without crippling the suspense in one point of view or the other. There was a ton of rewriting and moving scenes around.
Your main character in the Chesan Legacy series is Tridia Odana, a 17-year-old assassin. What are her flaws and strengths, and why will readers connect with her? Brenden Aren, a former Master Assassin sworn to kill Tridia, is the main antagonist in the story. What is the most difficult aspect of writing from his point of view?
Tridia is fiercely loyal to her friends and selfless in her determination to help them. Even though some allies could become enemies, she’ll do whatever it takes to free them. Her loyalty and sense of duty are also flaws, causing her to take risks on her own that may not be necessary. I think her most endearing quality is her deep desire for an innocence that she lost long ago, but the one that makes her unforgettable is her utter refusal to give up—even when there appears to be no way to go on. Brenden Aren becomes more complex and mysterious every time I write about him. People keep telling me they don’t know what to think about him. Is he one of the good guys or one of the bad guys? Keeping that suspense going is a real challenge. Tables get turned in this book and Brenden becomes more dangerous than ever.
What was your favorite part of putting together Chaos Unleashed?
Seeing my characters come to life once more for other people has been my favorite part. Working with my first and second readers was an amazing experience this time, and I’m looking forward to working with them again with book three.
In your previous interview, you said it took seven years to write what you thought was one book. After realizing it was really two books, it took another four years to separate them and refine the first novel into Child of Chaos. How long did it take to refine the second book? When did you know book two was finished and ready to publish?
It took an additional two and a half years to refine Chaos Unleashed. My first readers—three amazing friends: Clare Davis, Shari Holmes, and Kevin Cooley—had to help me decide when it was finished. Letting go of a project like this can be really hard. And when I was ready to quit too soon, Kirt Hickman had to remind me that a good book is worth the revision time. So, I had lots of help!
Now that you’ve written two books in the Chesan Legacy, what are the challenges of writing a series?
Those who’ve read my books know they’re very complex, and I’ve got a lot of small things running in the undercurrent now that will become significant later. Not dropping those threads is the biggest challenge. Keeping the story moving at its established pace is also huge. (My books don’t slow down.)
You consider yourself a pantser. After taking more than 12 years to bring two books to market, do you see the benefits of being a plotter or will you remain a diehard pantser?
Book three is already swarming in my head. There’s no way for me to tame it with an outline at this point.
What is the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
My best compliment has come from several readers at Comic Cons who’ve come to the table to tell me they’ve been waiting for book two. The first time it happened, I was stunned. The next several times were only slightly less of a shock. I’m just humbled by the enthusiasm when they see the second book. I’m looking forward to giving them a third and fourth!
Looking back to the beginning of your writing/publishing career, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
I would have encouraged my first and second readers to be more forthright a lot sooner. I wouldn’t have waited so long before deciding to self-publish. And I would have let go of the first book about three years earlier.
What writing projects are you working on now?
I’m currently working on Chosen Son, The Chesan Legacy Series Book Three, and a couple of short stories about the other Chesan survivors.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.