About the author
Tell us your story? What made you start writing?
My interest in writing didn’t become noticeable to me until later in life. However, I’ve always enjoyed reading a good book. This interest in reading started with my mom (who spent many years as an educator and administrator). She introduced me to the world of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, at a very young age. From there, my interest in reading really bloomed. I read everything as a kid. One of my absolute favorite book series from childhood was “Hank the Cowdog” by John R. Erickson. My parents actually took me to meet Mr. Erickson at the Victoria Public Library at one point in my childhood and I still have a book he signed for me from way back then.
However, my true interest in the fantasy genre didn’t come along until the sixth grade. I had an English teacher, Mrs. Warden, who introduced me and my class to the Hobbit. What made that experience really stand out to me wasn’t necessarily how good the story was, though it is still up there near the top of my all-time favorites. Rather, what made that book so exceptionally appealing to me at the time had more to do with what was going on in my home life when I found the story. You see, at that time in my life my father was dying of terminal cancer, my family had just moved to a new city to be closer to the support and care he needed, and I had just started attending a new school where I knew no one. My life had been completely turned on its head and the hurt I felt was constant and consuming. The world of Tolkien was perhaps one of the very few places I could go to put aside all of my worries and troubles. When my father finally did pass away that Christmas, I received the full box set of the Lord of the Rings series. Needless to say, I consumed them all in a matter of weeks.
Though I’ve found that escaping into good books doesn’t ever solve your problems for you, they can help you to catch your breath when life moves fast and your days are long. The deeper truths of faith and hope that authors like Lewis and Tolkien extol through the narratives and adventures within their books helped to guide me through some of the darkest times of my life. Perhaps I started writing because I wanted to play a part in sharing a bit of that truth with others.
What’s your favorite family tradition?
My wife, Kelsey, and I have three kids (all under the age of five), we are still working on creating new family traditions that our kids will remember as they grow up. However, one tradition that has carried over from my childhood is going to the Frio River as a family every Summer. If you aren’t from Texas and haven’t ever heard the word “Frio” before now, let me indoctrinate you – frio is the Spanish word for cold, and that is exactly how that river feels. It is spring fed from aquifers beneath the Texas hill country and it stays cool all year long. Yet, during summer time in Texas, when temperatures frequently soar well above the 100 degree mark, taking a few days to sit and soak in the Frio River is about as relaxing as it gets around here.
What weird food combinations do you really enjoy?
My wife likes to tease me because I’m a sucker for leftovers. I’m really not partial to any odd food combinations in particular, I just don’t like to see good food go to waste…which, in hindsight, does tend to create some weird food combinations. Just recently I can recall having a bit of Thai soup paired with a helping of sliced brisket. It was delicious!
If you were ruler of your own country what would be the first law you would introduce?
Laws are over-rated. If I were made ruler of a country my first law would likely be to get rid of a law already on the books that made no sense – I’ve found that there is never any shortage of frivolous laws around.
If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
Prone to overthink!
What’s your go-to guilty pleasure?
A good book! These days I don’t have as much time to read for fun, but when I do have a few hours, I would rather read than watch TV any day of the week.
If you were hired to show tourists what life is really like where you live, what would you show them / have them do?
This question would have been a great question to have asked the Danny of twenty years ago. I would have taken them to some great dance halls in central Texas, meals would have alternated between Mexican Food dives and smokey old BBQ joints, and we would have floated the river (in innertubes) twice where I live – once on the Guadalupe River and once on the Comal River.
Alas, the Danny of today is a much more subdued family man. Kelsey and I haven’t been out country dancing much over the past few years (too many new babies), and with Covid shutting things down last year my repertoire of go to restaurants has dwindled. I would, however, be more than happy to invite them all to church with us on Sunday. It may sound odd to some folks but I don’t know a better place to go to around here to find a slice of what life is really like!
What’s the most embarrassing story from your childhood?
Definitely a toss-up between getting stuck in a chicken coop and falling in the duck pond at the local park. Now some of you may be thinking the duck pond sounds way worse because your view of a chicken coop is that of a modern day taj ma-cluck that resembles more of a barn with chicken wire instead of walls and nice looking red rooster weathervane at the top. If that’s you, you may need to lay off Pinterest.
What I meant by chicken coop is a small cage, about 3’x4’x1’wide. Somewhere around the tender age of about 8-9 years old, I let me little sister talk me into slipping into the coop while we were playing in the backyard. The problem with that idea was that while I was able to slide in through the tiny door by bending about two dozen tiny little barbs toward the inside of the coop I couldn’t get out. When I tried to escape, I had the unpleasant experience of what it’s like to be a crab stuck in a crab trap – I couldn’t bend those barbs back outward. To throw oil on that fire (because that’s what all little sister’s do) my sister refused my calls for help and instead threw toys in there with me. I will note she did promise to bring me food later (it’s no wonder she’s a veterinarian today). I wasn’t freed until my grandparents arrived at the house and everyone wondered where I had gone. Freeing me from the coop took my dad, my grandad, some wire snips, and perhaps one or two neighbors who my sister may or may not have invited over to see the show.
The duck pond incident was embarrassing – but it went down pretty much was how it sounds. I fell into a stinky duck pond at a kid’s birthday party.
About A Choice Blades
The Blade Remnant series
With no knowledge of his true heritage, a young rancher, Leon Waldman, must forge a bold path for survival when he is tossed into a legendary world of powerful skin-changers and deadly creatures of myth!
Leon grew up working hard on his grandfather’s ranch, dutifully sticking it out for the old man. But deep down he has dreams of his own and life just seems…off?
Then there are all the odd changes that keep occurring, both to him personally and to the ranch in general.
When Leon is eventually confronted with a shift in his reality, brought on by a testy bunch of mercenaries, all of those changes converge. For him and a few others with him, a door is forced open to a world of danger, steeped in mystery, a world beyond anything he could have ever imagined.
Leon knows the mercenaries have plans that may or may not include him and the others, and the locals prove to be just as dangerous as they look.
Come what may, he is determined to stick to a promise made to his grandfather, a promise to find a way home for him and those forced through the portal with him. To do so, he’s going to have to push himself in ways he never thought possible, and a simple bone handled Blade may be the key to either making or breaking that effort.
But before he can make good on any promises, he must learn to navigate this new mythical land with a rancher’s grit, a unique set of powers, and some new friends along the way.
In the end, the stakes will be higher than anyone suspects!
You will find everything you want your fantasy book to be in ‘a Choice of Blades’ by D.N. Woodward. It is an absolutely amazing adventure through a world full of dangers and wonders. Through pain and love. If you are looking for a book you can’t put down until you’ve read every single page, you’ve just found it. If you are looking for a book that will swipe you off your feet, pull you through a Royal Tree into a mythical land full of magic and terrors – you are looking right at it! If you’ve been wishing for a story that will haunt you while you sleep, bug at you while you are working, peep in your ear while you eat simply because you’ll need to know what happens next, you will need to read A Choice of Blades!
Tell us a little about the books and what inspired you.
My kids were definitely an initial inspiration for the book. I had attempted to write other stories, but they never really panned out. However, I started this particular story because I wanted to write an adventure set within an imaginary world which I could someday share with them.
Do you have a favourite scene from the book? Something you enjoyed writing the most or think came together well?
That’s a tough one. I would say the opening scene was one of my favorites to write. It wasn’t until I wrote that first scene that I finished my outline for the book as a whole. Sometimes you just have to jump in there and get started. That first scene sparked so many ideas for me that I may not have written the book had I not started there first.
Which character did you have the most fun writing?
I really enjoyed writing the scenes where Gus Silberman gets worked up. Though there aren’t many of them in the book, each one made me chuckle. I’ve known a lot of surly old men who carried bits and pieces of Gus in their temperament. My grandfather, John Silberisen, was actually the initial inspiration for old Gus. He too was a larger than life character.
If you were to travel through a Royal Tree, what would be your course of action? Is there anything you’d specifically like to see?
I think one of the unique things about the journey through the Royal Tree is that as Leon experiences a series of scenes from his past, it isn’t Leon in the driver’s seat. They are essentially snippets of his life played back for him before his eyes. However, the Blade, at the crescendo of that journey, seems to be a critical aspect of that experience.
If I was to go through a Royal Tree like Leon, I might expect to see things that drove me to become the person I am today. Snippets from my childhood and youth. Instances I might fondly remember and actions I might wish to forget. But they would all be building towards a decision I may or may not have had the opportunity to make – in Leon’s world that decision centers on a simple bone handled Blade. What might that decision be centered upon in ours?
What is one of the most interesting things you have researched while writing a book?
Let me preface this by saying that I’m a biologist, so this might sound fun to me but I get that it might sound like work to others and I fully embrace that fact. However, I did a lot of research on the biology and ecology of Pleistocene era megafauna. I definitely could have geeked out and gone into much more detail on some of the creatures I mention in the story, but I tried to leave room for people’s imagination to fill in the gaps on a lot of those creatures.
What are your writing habits? Do you keep a schedule or is it chaotic, when inspiration hits kind of thing?
I tried the chaotic thing initially and made zero progress. I know some people can do it like that, I’m just not built that way. What makes the most sense for me is to try to hit 1,500-1,800 words every morning before work. In the evenings, I try to go back and proof what I wrote that morning for an hour or two, then I leave it alone and move on to the next scene. This worked well when I finally found a rhythm but I won’t lie and say there weren’t instances where I didn’t spend two or three days in a row tweaking one scene. That’s both the fun and frustrating thing about writing – you’re your own pace setter.
What challenges did you face while writing A Choice of Blades?
I always knew how I wanted the climax scene to occur. However, I had a hard time drawing the story to a close afterward. It took my wife telling me to end it where I wound up ending it to put it all to rest.
When can we wait for the sequel? Is there anything you can say about it without any spoilers?
You might not have seen the last of Ferschall!
Everyone always thinks they’d be royalty or a knight if they were born in Medieval times, but let’s be honest, you probably wouldn’t be. So, what kind of peasant do you think you’d be if you were born in medieval times?
So, my last name is Woodward. I’m told that this comes from a British heritage and that it means I had an ancestor way back when who was made Warden of the Woods for some act of heroism in some middle age war by some king (I know – I really should fact check this on Ancestor.com or some such site). Regardless, I like to think I might opt to pick up the family legacy where it left off. I like being outdoors, hunting, camping, helping things grow in general – it just sounds like a good fit for me. Though, I’m sure I’d find a reason to complain once I received the full job description, those people were built tough in ways we can’t even come close to comprehending these days!
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