Cache Valley author Tyler Whitesides was waiting to hear back from his editor on one of his children’s books when he started working on another novel, one suitable for adults and young adults.
In fact, Whitesides, 32, the author of “Janitors” and “The Wishmakers,” thought the idea he had was so different from what he normally wrote that he considered it a “pet project.”
“Maybe it’s going to take me four years to write this large story that I had in my mind,” Whitesides said. “But as soon as I sat down and started writing it, I felt like the characters kind of took control. Suddenly, six months later, I finished the entire thing.”
That book, “The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn,” hit the shelves Tuesday and set Whitesides off on a book tour. He will be at the Logan Library, 255 N. Main St., on May 19 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
During an interview at his Nibley home, Whitesides talked about his love of writing and the new book.
Herald Journal: What is “The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn” about?
Tyler Whitesides: Ardor Benn is kind of this witty, clever con-man, Han Solo type — kind of a scoundrel, but he’s charming. He is hired to steal the crown of the greatest king that the kingdom has known.
The guy that hires him to steal the crown is a priest in their religion. Ardor Benn, he kind of has to assemble his dream team … to run this massive heist … and steal the king’s crown.
The whole time he’s doing this, he’s at odds with the job because he’s digging for the reason why, you know, a religious person like this priest would hire him to bring down the kingdom’s beloved king.
He realizes there’s a lot more to stealing the crown, maybe the fate of all humankind on the line.
HJ: Are you willing to say what happens?
TW: No spoilers! (Laughs.)
HJ: What do you want people to take away from reading the book?
TW: The beautiful thing about fantasy books is that readers are able to extrapolate from the pages whatever that individual needs or wants to take. … If I write a fantasy book, every reader that picks it up is going to take something different away from it. It’s not like they’re all going to take the same thing like you do if you’re reading a … realistic fiction or nonfiction book.
I’ve had young readers pick up my “Janitor” books or “Wishmakers” books and say, “Wow! When you wrote this, did you plan this specific thing, because that’s what I got out of it.” I’d say, “That’s awesome, kid. That’s not what I had in mind when I wrote it at all, but I love that that’s what you wanted to find from it and that’s what you took from it.”
I think the same is true for “Ardor Benn.” Some people might pick it up and say, “That was a rollicking, fun ride.” Others might pick it up and take more of a personal lesson into it.
HJ: You talked about what they might get out of reading the book. What did you get out of writing it?
TW: I love the escape that writing fantasy provides. I never feel restricted or limited when I’m writing fantasy because … if at any point in my story I need something to happen, I can just invent it. There’s a lot of freedom involved.
I do a lot research to find out about animal behaviors or vegetation or climate. I do a lot of research on armor and guns and things like that. But at the end of the day, if something I’ve researched doesn’t work for my story, as a fantasy writer, I have the freedom to alter reality.
HJ: How do you write fiction?
TW: When it comes to writing fiction, I feel like the most important thing is characters — specifically, making sure your characters have motivations for things that they do in the story. If you write well-motivated characters, people are typically more interested in finding out what happens to them, right?
HJ: Then, you’ve got to put it into a storyline.
TW: It’s all kind of intertwined. You’re developing characters at the same time you’re developing a story and a setting. For fantasy, you’re also developing a magic system, how is this magic different than magic you read about in (J.R.R.) Tolkien’s works or Harry Potter. It’s insanely complex, especially writing an epic fantasy like this one. You’re creating a world from the ground up.
HJ: I know you went to USU to study music, specifically percussion. But when did you realize you liked writing?
TW: My love for writing started at a really young age. As soon as I learned to read, I wanted to be a writer.
By second grade, I had made up my mind I wanted to write books. I wrote all through my school years, even though I studied music.
My interest in what I wanted to write changed and developed depending on what I was reading as I grew. As a really little kid, the dream was … picture books. As I got older that kind of evolved into wanting to write fantasy.
But I’ve always had this dream to write an epic tome, some sort of fantasy that was large-scale and intended for an older audience, and that’s what I’m finally doing here.