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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Interview with D.W. Ross, the author of Cold From North


Author Info: D.W. Ross is an author who took the boredom of lockdown 2020 to another level by deciding to write a book despite having no experience in doing anything of the sort before – to say he never thought he would get this far is an understatement. One book has become a series, and now there is no stopping his creative mind as he plots books daily that he will absolutely never get to writing. Cold From The North was his first novel, with follow up The Darkest Dusk due out in 2021 with the closing novel of the Onyxborn Chronicles coming in early 2022. When not writing, he can be found watching pro wrestling, reading fantasy, dystopian and thriller novels, gaming, lifting weights and eating chicken wings. D.W. lives in Scotland with his wife.

Book Information: Cold from the North by D.W. Ross, Series: Onyxborn Chronicle (#1), Published: November 14, 2020, Genre: Epic Fantasy, Pages: 470 (Print Length), CW: Violence, Gore

Thank you for joining us, D.W., and welcome to Fantasy Book Critic! Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.  

Hello! Thank you so much for having me. I am D.W. Ross, a fantasy writer from Scotland. I’m old as hell and I am made of 86% sugar free irn bru.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it? 

I do, I work for a global media owner in their sales department.

Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influencers?

Oh excellent question - My favourite current reads are basically ANYTHING by John Gwynne, he is an incredible writer, I’m about halfway through The Faithful and The Fallen series and its shaping up to be an all time fave. Other than that I have really been enjoying Joe Abercrombie’s last two books, now I’m eagerly awaiting the final installment in the Age of Madness series.

I would say major influences have to be two books, well, two series. I read the Licanius trilogy and Michael J Sullivan’s Legends of the First Empire series pretty much back to back and they were the two stories that made me want to write my own.

Serious writing takes not only a story to tell, but the craft of writing to tell it well—can you comment on your journey as a writer?

There was a lot of self doubt, so much so that I bought and absorbed every ‘help’ book a writer can find. They were super beneficial in taking me from a straight up plot teller to adding a few more skills to my repertoire. I’m still definitely a plot guy though, characters play second fiddle sometimes which is something I am trying to remedy.

Overall though, I was just chasing a dream I always had which was to write a novel. I always told myself it would be shit or no one would care but I pushed through and gave it a go. The real spark was getting into the world of Dungeons and Dragons through a mate of mine. He tasked us with creating a character backstory for a game he was starting and that little paragraph led to this book, and the other two waiting in the wings.

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

I am a plot driven type of writer, I like to immerse people in a setting because that is what I like to read. I am still finding my feet with really fleshed out character arcs, but I have a few stories that I plan to work on which are more about growth than journey. So hopefully, I can push through those too and get them out there.

What was your initial inspiration for Cold from the North? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea?

It all came from a DND character backstory and just spiralled out of hand. At one point I was thinking I could create a campaign in that world for some other people then I was having too much fun just building and creating the world and the next thing I knew I had the story. Don’t get me wrong though, the first iteration of what this could have been was absolute garbage ha so you could certainly say it has evolved!

I started working on it in about November 2019, had it published a year later.

If you had to describe it in 3 adjectives, which would you choose?

Big, entertaining and detailed.

How did you come up with the title?

I wrote a line which included ‘cold from the north’ in a sentence and just felt like it was a fit, same goes with the title for book two.

How does it tie with the plot of the book?

I suppose it does in a way, the cold plays a big part in the early setting and without giving too much away there a threat comes from the frigid reaches of the north.

How many books have you planned for the series? 


Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to Cold from the North’s protagonists and antagonists?

I will give you two from each side - first is Ogulf Harlsbane, son of an Earl, living in a small town in Broadheim, he has the weight of the world landed on him pretty early. Alongside him is his best friend Melcun, he wasn’t born of any name or note but was orphaned young and is looked after in a sense by Ogulf’s family. I suppose it's not a spoiler since it’s mentioned on page 2 that Melcun has some…powers?

As for our bad guys, Nadreth is the main antagonist in this novel, he is leading the invading force who is looking to fulfil the ancient Onyxborn prophecy - I’ve had fun writing this character, he's a bit of a dick. Another, and probably my favourite is the Grim Knight, but I’ll be careful what I say as he appears a little later in CFTN - carries two deadly weapons with him and one is a spiked club which I had some fun writing action scenes for. My main BBEG is Cormag, a dark deity who uses others to regain his powers.

How did you select the names of your characters?

The one’s from Broadheim are pretty norse inspired, I am a sucker for all things norse mythology so they just came from that really. For most of the other ones I just played around with ideas until one felt right.

Does your book feature a magic/magic system? If yes, can you describe it?

It certainly does. The magic in CFTN is a gift from the gods, they have provided Gelenea (continent setting) with a number of Peaks of Influence, these Peaks are sources which give power to mages who can use this power in various different ways to create, manipulate or assist. But not all peaks were created to fuel ‘good’ magic, some do the opposite, and although rare there are some mages who are capable of unspeakable things and there are some old abilities which exist in a hazy space between good and bad.

Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Cold from the North?

I have been VERY lucky to work with an incredible cover designer (Cherie Chapman), who was able to interpret little suggestions/ideas of mine and put together an incredible final cover. I always wanted to have a weapon as the center point, I like big bold titles and I wanted some vivid colours that were eye-catching and made the whole thing pop. Cherie was able to do this, she’s a wizard. I can safely say that the cover is one of the main reasons people take notice of CFTN, the feedback on it has been incredible.

Have you written it with a particular audience in mind? Who’ll enjoy it?

That’s a hard one, initially I was writing for myself. I was bored and feeling creative and it just spiralled. But I guess this is a story for your average fantasy fans, I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything with it, it’s definitely formulaic and has some well trodden tropes but I just wanted to write a story that people would enjoy.

What are you most excited for readers to discover in this book?

I like the peppering of worldbuilding and history in CFTN, it certainly seems to bring it to life and it’s one of the most fun elements of writing for me. There is a whole wealth of other stories to be told in Gelenea so I hope folks get excited about the potential for that!

Can you, please, offer us a taste of your book, via one completely out-of-context sentence. 

‘The blow struck true and sunk into the man, much deeper than Ogulf expected. As if he still had fight in him the driver made to raise his weapon to strike Ogulf but his effort failed almost immediately as life escaped him. He slumped to the floor letting out a final rasping breath as blood surged from his side.’
What’s your publishing Schedule for 2021/2022? 

So, as it stands I will have book 2 of the Onyxborn Chronicles out in June. Then hopefully have the final book out in Spring 2022.

Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers? 

I would love to thank anyone who has given my debut the chance, including your good selves! And just, a wee note to say that there will be more adventures in Gelenea for a long time, so strap in and enjoy :D

NOTE: Many thanks to Justine, Timy & the Storytellers On Tours for giving us an opportunity to take part in this tour. Here's the tour's full schedule.



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