Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of your new fantasy series, The Queen’s Poinsoner, which which is Book 1 of The Kingfountain series! Given the amount of time and dedication required to create such a large and diverse world, what inspired you to take on this endeavor?
Jeff Wheeler: Thank you for having me! You know, authors are inspired by various things, and I’m no exception. I’m inspired by actual events in history. I’m inspired by the people I interact with day to day. I’m inspired by enormous redwood trees and I’m inspired by waterfalls. This book allowed me to weave all of these elements together into a single story. Years ago (before my work was better known), I wrote a blog post called “A Manifesto on Virtue” and wrote about the Roman concept of Virtus and its themes. I like telling stories that have strong characters and elements of self-sacrifice and honor. The core element of this book is about those traits. I never get tired of them.
BD: For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the series, how would you describe its premise?
JW: Imagine parents who had to choose one of their children to either live or die—but they didn’t know which at the time. As a parent myself, such a decision would be agonizing, but it’s the premise of the tale. One of the powerful lords of the realm failed to support the king during the critical battle. As a result, he and his wife must choose one of their sons to be a hostage to the king at court. The story is about an eight year-old boy thrust into a political situation far outside his experience or abilities. A woman has compassion on him and tries to help. She’s the titular character of the book.
BD: How would you describe your creative journey throughout the project?
JW: What’s different about this series (The Kingfountain series) is that each book features the main character at a different age and starkly different stage of life. I’ve never attempted to do that before in my work, starting with a young boy, then making him a teenager, and then early adulthood. Weaving a story arc that lasted for years instead of months was a real challenge for me, but I enjoyed it immensely and how it forced me to consider new ways of filling in the details missed between books but without bogging down the story. The series starts strong and gets stronger.
BD: You have written quite a few novels prior to The Queen’s Poisoner. Do you feel that fans of your previous work would easily find a home in The Kingfountain series?
JW: Absolutely, my style of writing and the themes I touch on haven’t changed. My fans know that I write cleanreads and this is no exception. Because this is a new world and a totally new magic system, there is no required reading in order to break into this series. I think that will make it approachable for new readers to give my writing a try before deciding whether to check out the Muirwood or Mirrowen worlds next.
BD: Do you have a release date set for all of the books, and how will they be released?
JW: Yes, I’ve enjoyed the partnership with 47North and how quickly they can turn my ideas into books. The second in the series, The Thief’s Daughter, will be published May 31. The last book will come out September 6. Three books in six months.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
JW: I can’t reveal that yet as I’m not under contract, but let’s just say I have pitched a new proposal to 47North and am cautiously optimistic that I’ll be making an announcement about it soon.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell our readers who want to learn more about The Queen’s Poisoner and your other work?
JW: You know, one of the things I like about Amazon is the customer reviews. Some authors don’t read any of them, but I read all of them, the good and the bad. Reading is very subjective and not everyone is going to have the same experience or appreciate my stories in the same way. That’s why I think it’s important to read the most helpful positive and negatives reviews before deciding whether to give my books a try. If The Queen’s Poisoner doesn’t grab your fancy, maybe another book or my graphic novel will.
*Author photo (right) by Kim Bills.