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Django Wexler
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2013 Book Club Discussions > September 2013: The Thousand Names - Q&A with Django Wexler

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message 1: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments Mr. Wexler has been kind enough to do an informal Q&A like Anthony Ryan did last month. Feel free to post questions in here, and Mr. Wexler will respond when he gets the chance. This is a good time for people who are just now reading the book to ask their questions that they missed the chance to ask on his recent AMA>

Thanks again, Django!

message 2: by Django (new)

Django Wexler Hi all! I will be swinging by to answer questions as we go along, most likely in the mornings PST. Just make sure to use spoiler tags as appropriate!

message 3: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda | 57 comments Thank you, Mr. Wexler, for taking the time to stop by. It is unbelievably awesome (both your book and this Q&A)

When I went through my Peninsular War obsession (after reading "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell"), I was amazed that the British Archive had amassed such a large collection of letters/journals from participants on both the Coalition and French sides.

In your writing the details of what the day to day life of a fusilier was like, did you use these existent first-person accounts from the Peninsular War?

Are any of your Vordanai Colonial characters based on real people?

and, lastly, Do you scaffold your battles based on actual historical engagements?

okay...one more: I loved "The Penitent Damned", especially the character of Andreas - will he make a return in the subsequent books? (please, oh pretty please say "yes")

message 4: by Django (new)

Django Wexler Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Let's see:

I used a lot of first-person accounts as collected by several excellent historians, but I can't say where exactly they came from. (One advantage of being a fantasy author instead of a historian is not having to cite your sources.) The Vordanai army is actually closer in structure to the pre-Revolution French army than the British, so I used a lot of translated French accounts as well.

None of the characters in the final book are based on specific real people. A few of the side characters (Give-Em-Hell, the Preacher) are amalgams of some amusing stories I read about Napoleonic or ACW officers.

The battles in The Thousand Names are not based on *particular* historical engagements, because they're mostly too small -- four or five thousand men to a side, as opposed to 60-100,000 at the famous battles. I did try, however, to get a sense of how the real battles went at a tactical level, so that mine would "feel" right. As we move along in the series, we may get to some more direct analogues of historical stuff!

As for Andreas, definitely yes! He's got a pretty big role in The Shadow Throne.

message 5: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments Django - Roughly 40% in, so I'm basing my question on that much that I've read. How much have you spent studying what a military camp setup would look like and be arranged? Our cast of characters have spent a great deal of time huddled in tents and walking around camp thus far, and I've felt like there's been a pretty visceral feel to the camps, the interactions, the cardplaying and drinking. Is this something you put a particular focus on, or did this all just come naturally?

message 6: by Django (new)

Django Wexler Hi Joel -

Camp life was definitely a focus in my reading. It's something that comes out a lot in a lot of primary-source accounts of the soldier's life in this period, because it's how most soldiers spent their days when they were in the field. I was hoping to give a decent sense of what it was like, though some of the Vordanai Army stuff is anachronistic, strictly speaking, for a Napoleonic setting. I'm glad it feels visceral to you, that was certainly the idea!

message 7: by Crystal (new)

Crystal | 22 comments Not reading the above for fear or spoilers. I'm sure you've been asked this a lot Django, but is Django Wexler your birth-name?

message 8: by Django (new)

Django Wexler Yes! Technically, I'm Nicholas Django Wexler, but I think nobody other than the DMV remembers. I go by Django for everything.

We're trying to use spoiler tags to hide things that are too spoilery, I think.

message 9: by Crystal (last edited Sep 08, 2013 09:17PM) (new)

Crystal | 22 comments Thank you for replying! I love hearing back from authors. I get some sort of tingly happiness from being able to communicate with all authors. Like the toothfairy has come or something. You have the coolest name ever. I honestly expected that it would be a pen name. You and Garth Nix have the coolest fantasy author birth-names. PS. Off topic, but how did you feel about the movie, Django which was released recently. Did you feel obliged to go and see it?

message 10: by Django (new)

Django Wexler I don't know about obliged, but I did go see it because I like Quentin Tarantino movies. At least now people know how to spell my name!

message 11: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments Django - I missed this in the AMA so I'll ask it here; What was the motivation behind Winters and Bobby? I mean with multiple characters running that kind of deception. Were you concerned at all that you'd get criticism for your "strong female characters" pretending to be male, rather than being strong AS females?

Loving the book - under a hundred pages left, things are getting real good.

message 12: by Django (new)

Django Wexler Glad you're liking it!

So, way back in the dawn of time, I was figuring out how to make the female character in this book work. I had Marcus and Janus, and I knew I wanted a young woman who would be kind of a disruptive influence, because Marcus is pretty straight-laced. Originally I had her as Janus' younger sister, and then maybe someone's secret girlfriend, but eventually I realized that she needed a plot of her own if she was going to stand up as a POV character.

I was a little worried about using the "woman disguised as a man" trope, just because it's been done so often, but it turns out there's a good reason for that: it really happened, not once but literally hundreds of times, in the wars of that period. (Probably the Golden Age of military cross-dressing -- after the advent of national armies, but before things like medical examinations.)

As for having both Bobby and Winter there, it's just what worked for the characters. It gives Winter someone to talk to, and it ties us better to Winter's backstory. As for whether I expected criticism -- some people will criticize regardless, but given the setting (a military story in an army that doesn't admit women) it seemed like the best way to give the characters some agency. It's also part of a plot that runs through the whole series, as you guys will see when book 2 comes out!

message 13: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments I believe that it'll continue - it feels like things are setting up for that. I appreciate your view on criticism - I think everyone is sensitive to it to some degree, but I guess you have to write the book you want to write and people will either like it or they won't.

Luckily, I really like yours.

message 14: by Django (new)

Django Wexler At some point you always have to say, well, this is what I'm doing, and it's okay if some people don't care for it. Like if someone doesn't like battles and military stuff, then my military fantasy series may not be the thing for them. Happy that you're enjoying it, though!

message 15: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments At least if they don't like military battles, they know pretty quick to bail the hell out :)

Your characters are awesome, by the way. I absolutely love Marcus and Janus, and Davis is awesome in his own way - that being that I feel like every army has at least one of these guys, and *everyone* knows who they are. He's very well personified and extremely easy to understand. So many positive things to say.

message 16: by Django (new)

Django Wexler Aw, thanks so much!

message 17: by Crystal (new)

Crystal | 22 comments Django. I just finished the book and it was amazing. Completely loved it. I've never read a military type fantasy before. This was different and awesome. I liked all the characters and you did a really good job of developing the characters, their back stories and balancing that with the tactical war stuff. To be honest, I quite often dislike "war tactic" type fantasy novels. Sometimes they are so boring and dull (to me, but I know plenty of boys who love it!) but this was perfectly done and I can't wait to get my hard copy in the post. I will move on to your short story now :)

Thanks for the great read.

message 18: by Django (new)

Django Wexler Crystal, so glad you enjoyed it! I'm happy it worked for you even if you're not a war buff, that's definitely something I worry about.

message 19: by Jon (new)

Jon (fictionalized) | 7 comments I don't have any real questions. I just wanted to thank you for writing an amazing novel and making me actually love a military fantasy story.

Can't wait to read the next chapter in the lives of Janus, Marcus, and Winter. (Even though I'm still half convinced Janus is a colonialist bad guy.)

message 20: by Django (new)

Django Wexler Glad you liked it so much! The second book is off to my editor, I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks of it next year.

message 21: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda | 57 comments Django wrote: "Glad you liked it so much! The second book is off to my editor, I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks of it next year."

I can not wait! I so want to see Janus go up against Andreas...please, in your copious amounts of spare time, write more concordat short stories. They are my new favorite secret service...second only to Bujold's Barrayaran ImpSec.

message 22: by Django (new)

Django Wexler I'm hoping to have another SC short ready around the time of the next book launch, but I haven't decided what it should be about. Maybe I should run a poll.

message 23: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda | 57 comments Django wrote: "I'm hoping to have another SC short ready around the time of the next book launch, but I haven't decided what it should be about. Maybe I should run a poll."

You could run a poll, or you could write the Concordat Chronicles...because, remember, only you can prevent bad Concordat fanfic...just sayin' :D.

message 24: by Django (new)

Django Wexler I feel like the Concordat Chronicles would be pretty grim reading. They're not exactly nice guys! Not even in the Lord Vetinari-secretly-looking-out-for-everybody sense.

message 25: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda | 57 comments oh no...sigh...sniffle...not my Andreas...I'd already developed an allegiance to the bad guys. Now I shall go cry and mourn the death of my delusions. (It'll be ok, it looks like I've got about a year to get over it.)

It must be a flaw in my character that attracts me to the smart, amoral ones...or their uniforms. The bad guys always get better uniforms.

What a fine and wonderful world you have created that I should care so much after reading a short story and a single novel.

message 26: by Django (new)

Django Wexler There's always that fan-fiction!

message 27: by Tim (new)

Tim Ullrich A question for Django: I was really surprised to read that you were/are a software developer. I would never have guessed after reading TTN, which struck me as authored by a student of history- not a programmer. That said, I have two questions. Did you draw upon that background for TTN at all? Will we see any scifi writing out of you in future works? =D

Thanks, and I look forward to the rest of The Shadow Campaigns!

message 28: by Django (new)

Django Wexler Thanks, that's high praise! History is something I came to fairly late, and I've always just been a hobbyist -- that's a fancy way of saying I read a lot of history books. I have degrees in Computer Science and Creative Writing, but I always figured the former would be paying the bills.

Interesting question -- I don't think there's a lot of programming background in TTN. One exception might be (view spoiler)

I don't write a lot of "straight" SF because I like worldbuilding too much, and I have a hard time keep my ideas in line with what's really technically plausible. That said, I do have some future plans that (while being in fantasy worlds) involve some more tech-y stuff. It may be a while before I get around to it though!

message 29: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments @Django - you are writing both YA and adult fiction - is there a particular reason for that? Or is it as simple as you have ideas that happen to fall into both camps?

message 30: by Django (new)

Django Wexler That was definitely how it got started. I had finished The Thousand Names and needed a new project to work on while I waited to see if any publishers wanted it, so I started what eventually became The Forbidden Library based on an idea I'd been pondering. It wasn't really intended to be for kids, I only realized that about halfway through!

One thing that WAS deliberate though was that I needed something shorter. Thousand Names is about 200,000 words long; if I was going to start another series, it couldn't be another giant fantasy epic. The MG/YA books are more like 75,000, which makes it plausible to finish one of each every year.

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