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Today I had an engaging conversation with Stanlee Kelly, the author behind The Wandering Exile. From his journey in the EV industry to crafting compelling fantasy tales, Stanlee’s story is both inspiring and unique.
In this Q&A, we’ll explore the depths of his novel, delve into character development, world-building, and the thought-provoking themes that drive the narrative.
I hope you’ll enjoy this interview! ✨
The Wandering Exile by Stanlee Kelly
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey as a writer? How did you transition from the technology industry to becoming an author in the Fantasy genre?
Firstly, thanks for inviting me to have this interview. I think it’s a great thing you are doing giving new authors a platform and it’s been great having someone reach out.
My name is Stanlee and I’ve recently wrote The Wandering Exile. I work in the EV industry but always have a few projects on the side like this book for instance. I also make music and create mobile apps! I’ve been writing since I was child but had never finished anything in a professional sense.
I used to ask for notebooks and would fill them with stories that had no structure and were all hand written!
I finally decided to sit down and plan a story out after my great uncle, Graham McClements released his third book, Laugh Now Cry Later. This inspired me to pen a few ideas I had at the time and the final result was The Wandering Exile!
The Wandering Exile delves into themes of honor, betrayal, and the weight of a crown. What inspired you to explore these particular themes, and what messages do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I was quite heavily inspired by George RR Martin‘s, A Song of Ice and Fire. I really dislike the typical trope of good versus evil as inevitably the good always prevails. Life isn’t really like that at all and with the current political climate it’s often hard to paint any side as truly “good or evil“.
I believe the world sits in a much more grey area in reality and this is what I wanted to convey in the book. The fantasy setting is excellent for having these modern parallels but with the ability to add a great story on top. I’ve always loved history and so I made it more “low fantasy” without any goblins or dragons so the overarching themes throughout are still somewhat based in reality.
Ideally I would love for the readers to simply enjoy the book, but if there was a message it would be to rely on your own view of what is good.
Your protagonist, the exile seeking vengeance, sounds intriguing. How did you develop this character, and what challenges did you encounter while crafting his journey?
Creating the character Elric was easily my favorite part of creating the writing process. I wanted to create a character that, from first glance, would appear to fit the typical good guy with a sword trope but as the story develops as does his character.
I took a lot of inspiration from Stannis Baratheon and Jon Snow from Game of Thrones which may appear an oxymoron at first but I feel fits his development well.
The hardest part of crafting the character was to not fall into the typical tropes as previously mentioned. It’s very easy to create a “good” character but I find it more rewarding to create a flawed anti-hero that you can’t help rooting for.
The political landscape in your book seems intricate and treacherous. How do you approach world-building to create a compelling and immersive setting for your story?
I tried my hardest to make the story character focused despite the background being a political landscape and so it doesn’t quite dive too much into the wider picture (perhaps in a later book?).
As mentioned before, a lot of the parallels were drawn from both ancient and contemporary history to create a new world which without revealing too much leaves a lot of room for future projects.
As a newcomer to the Fantasy genre, what excites you the most about writing in this genre, and do you have plans for future projects in the same realm?
With fantasy I believe your mind really is the biggest limit.
You can have anything from your traditional low fantasy western medieval adventures to ones based around Japanese culture to ones that are almost entirely based in fiction such as the Warhammer series with mythical beasts and larger than life characters.
Whilst writing The Wandering Exile my mind was filled with side stories, prologues, sequels and spin offs which who knows I may revisit in future.
Apart from writing, you mentioned your interest in music, game development, video editing, and coding. How do these diverse passions influence your creative process and storytelling?
I truly believe the best way to experience life is to try everything. A lot of my interests heavily influenced The Wandering Exile. For example, I love video games and some of my favorites include The Elder Scrolls series which a lot of the visual aspect of the book I based on.
My latest game I developed was called “Medieval Adventure Simulator” which in a way could be a direct link to The Wandering Exile in that you play as a Wandering Knight completing quests.
I make a lot of videos for YouTube about ancient and contemporary history and seeing many of these great nations and rulers rise and fall allowed me to inject this knowledge into the characters in the book.
“The Wandering Exile” explores the price one pays for peace and the means in the game of power. How do you navigate the moral quandaries within your narrative, and what do you believe is the role of ethics in storytelling?
This is an excellent question.
The biggest thing I wanted to put in the book was an overarching theme of what is actually good and what is actually evil without being too suggestive in my opinion of this. I try and ask this question in a fantasy setting despite it being based on real world moral theories.
I really enjoyed adding themes of stoicism, machiavellianism, pragmatism and others into the story and ask, does the end really justify the means? I think the answer to this really depends on your social, economic and political upbringing and if you asked one hundred people, most would agree on the basic answers but would all have different reasonings for this.
Some may read the book and agree with certain characters and others may read it and sympathize with different ones entirely. I believe ethics can play an important role in storytelling but the literature would also be pretty boring if every narrative asked the same questions.
Can you share any specific experiences or challenges you faced while writing “The Wandering Exile,” and how you overcame them?
Honestly, the hardest part for me was designing the art, publishing it myself and then actually marketing it. I am extremely new to the world of writing and so I was almost at a complete loss of how to do any of it.
It’s another reason I am particularly grateful for this interview as you’ve given me a great platform to show people my work.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who are looking to make their mark in the Fantasy genre or in writing in general?
Write! I think the hardest part of writing any story is actually finishing it.
I would bet most people who have ever read a book have thought of the idea of writing their own and it would be great if more people took the admittedly quite challenging leap to start one and then finish it.
It’s an extremely rewarding experience first seeing your book in a physical copy, knowing all of the hours you have poured into making it.
Are there any new or upcoming projects you’re working on, and how can our readers find and connect with you?
I haven’t started writing anything new just yet as I have still been quite preoccupied in the distribution and marketing side of things. I definitely hope to release something new by the early to middle of next year, perhaps in the same world or in something new entirely.
I have a lot of ideas around backstories for many of the characters and would love to explore these in more detail.
For more with Stanlee, make sure to follow him on his social media.
Happy reading! ❤️