The Wizard's Gift by Michael Waller
Published: 30th June 2012
The last of an ancient group of wizards leaves a gift to the newly arrived race of men. It is revered and cared for by a line of priests until it is stolen, and the high priest and his sovereign murdered by a king who believes himself destined to be a great wizard. But from ancient writings the high priest had discovered that the gift is not benevolent as was thought. This forces the son of the high priest, unexpectedly elevated to his father's position, and the young prince who is equally suddenly king, into a race to find the gift before it can be used as that may cause the destruction of the world. Accompanied by the retired captain of the palace guard they hope to speed their journey by crossing the Wasteland, a seeming desert, which is fabled to be populated by monsters, and from which no visitor has ever returned. In the course of their adventures they are hunted by dog faced men and captured by slavers, but the young prince truly becomes a king, and the priest discovers that he has a destiny that goes beyond the bounds of his world
Interview with Michael Waller
Tell us a little bit about your book, The Wizard's Gift, in your own words.
Though it will be classed as fantasy I very much see the book as simply an adventure story set in a fictional time and place. It is a race to forestall what might be the destruction of the world by a misguided wizard. The race is undertaken by two young men suddenly promoted to positions that they did not expect to achieve for many years, and an older soldier beginning a not altogether desired retirement. I made deliberate decisions with regard to the language, I cannot abide "medieval" characters who converse in modern idioms, and the use of magic, no miraculous escapes because of magical powers. It is a story that contains danger and hardships, revellations and personal growth, a constant movement towards an ending which turns out to be not quite the end.
What was the hardest part about writing your book?
I actually found it frustrating that I could not write as fast as I could think. The writing in itself I did not find difficult as at any given time I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but occasionaly I would find that the lag between inspiration and physical production meant that I would lose the thread. A re-read of what I had managed would then be necessary to put me back on track.
Are you a planner/plotter, or do you just follow where the story leads?
I am definitely not a planner, nor can I set myself targets for writing. When an idea comes to me I will sit and write the whole thing out, in fact the short stories that I have written were all produced at a single sitting, and when I don't have an idea nothing will spur me into writing. I generaly write in longhand, my trusty fountain pen, then when I transfer it to my computer I begin to expand on what is written. Then I will re-read to see if there are better word choices, and to make sure that I have caught my original idea in its entirety. I also sometimes need to return to earlier parts when a later idea means that I need to change an event to fit in with what is to come. I do know what the story is about, certainly the beginning and end, but all in all the rest is a bit hit and miss.
What is your favourite part about writing stories?
The conversion of a simple idea into the complex twists and turns of the completed story. There is a great feeling of accomplishment when you can lay out so that someone else will understand, and hopefully enjoy, a scene that is living only in your mind. I like dialogue and am careful to keep it in tune with the situation in which it is being used, only music moves me as much as honest and emotional dialogue. Anybody can write down what two people may say to each other, much rarer is the ability to make the words attain feeling and authority to enhance the speaker and the action of the story. I strive for that ability and hope that at times I achieve it.
Do you have a favourite place to write? Or a place you go for inspiration?
The single place that promotes the greatest amount of inspiration is in front of my Hi-Fi, no tinny ear buds and compressed mp3 files for me, where I find music will conjure up landscapes and actions. Sweeping passages in Sibelius will give me a sense of the more expansive scenes in the story, whilst Ronnie Dio can quicken the pulse and set my mind racing through more exciting passages.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Well I am actually retired from what would be classed as my career, so now I do what gives me pleasure. I spend a lot of time in my workshop where amongst other things I restore vintage British motorcyles. I have thirty acres on which I ride my trials motorcycle, and I take a lot of natural history photographs. Other than that I just sit about reading and enjoying the freedom of being able to do what I want, when I want.
What book(s) are you currently working on and do you have anything planned for the future?
I am close to the end of a second book with Bataan from The Wizard's Gift as the central character. I also have two stories which I laid out many years ago which I plan to complete. These are both what would be classed as thrillers, I suppose, but as I have a dislike of the pigeon holeing of literature, as with The Wizard's Gift, they are just exciting stories one about a murder, and one about a fraud.
Thank you Michael! I definitely understand your connection with music, I certainly find songs inspiring me to write all the time, thanks for a great interview!
Michael was born in Middlesbrough in the North Riding of Yorkshire, UK in 1951 where he was soon creating havoc as a short trousered rebel. Fortunately as his mother was head cook at police headquarters his numerous run ins with the constabulary were dealt with in the privacy of the family home. A junior school run by nuns, and then an excellent grammar school under the watchful eye of Marist priests educated him to have a love of literature, music and science. Though they did nothing to curb his anti-authority streak.
An initial ramble through all manner of jobs finally came to a halt in the oil and chemical industry where his love of science and all things technical provided him with gainful employment for almost thirty years. Whilst working he spent several years in the Middle East with visits to India, and around Europe before landing in the USA where he has lived for the past twenty years.
Retired now he writes, take photographs and restores vintage British motorcycles in upstate New York.
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