Clayton Wood is the mastermind behind several popular fantasy series, including the Runic series, Fate of Legends series, and Magic of Havenwood series.
In this interview, we will delve into Clayton’s journey as a writer, his inspiration, and his thoughts on fantasy writing.
So without further ado, let’s get started!
What inspired you to start writing in the fantasy genre?
Fantasy books were my go-when I was a kid, and I devoured series by Piers Anthony, R.A. Salvatore, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, and many more. Why fantasy appeals to me, I cannot honestly say. All I know is that my muse constantly conjures new ideas for me to work with, and she’ll make my life a living hell if I let her down by not using them!
How do you approach world-building in your stories?
For me, world-building usually grows from the main theme or themes I’m exploring in a series. For example, The Magic Collector was about art and creativity as magical forces, and so I incorporated works of art quite literally into the world. Books about castles made castles, and books about giants made giants. In contrast, Elazar the Magician was in part about dogma and ways of knowing, and thus a scientific and technologically more advanced society clashed with a religious one. Both were slaves to their own dogma, and the truly enlightened were magicians. Magicians who gained their powers through magic mushrooms, which inspired mushroom-shaped symbolism in the world-building process.
Can you walk us through your writing process?
Normally an idea for a new series comes out of the blue for me (see note on my abusive muse above), and I let it grow and mutate in my brain for a year or so. I know it’s ready for writing when it stops changing, solidifying into a world, narrative, and a couple of characters. I have an idea of the beginning, middle, and end, and when I write, I let the characters fill in the rest. Mostly because if I try to get in their way, they’ll stage a mutiny.
As for how I structure my time, I usually order book covers from my cover designer 6 months in advance. 2 for the Spring, 2 for the Fall. Nothing is written yet when I order them, but they gotta be done by the time the covers are due to be made. That way I keep a pace of around 4 books published a year.
Would you survive in your own fantasy world?
My wife says no, ’cause I’m soft. But she’s totally wrong.
What themes do you explore in your work?
For the Runic series, it was the role of various father figures in growth and self-actualization…how negative father figures can create conflict that forces growth through adversity, and how positive father figures can do so with mentoring and nurturing.
For the Fate of Legends series, I explored group identity vs. individual identity, and the magnetic-field-like forces that force those with weaker wills to align with stronger wills. Also, the ways in which failing to identify as part of the greater world can lead to calamity.
For the Magic of Havenwood series, I explored the creative process itself, making art magical. Writers wrote books that created entire lands and monsters, while sculptures came to life. Musicians could manipulate emotions and time itself, while Actors could literally transform into who they played. And Painters could take objects and living creatures they’d painted out of their canvases, bringing them to life. It was a fun way to explore my own creative process, teaching the reader some things that I’d learned. It was also a way to explore secondary themes of the dark and light parts of the human soul, and the somewhat lost idea of redemption.
For Inappropriate Magic, I explored the themes pertinent to the mid-life crisis, where one realizes they’re going to die, the life they’ve lived is one they fell into and no longer want, and that they need to find meaning and purpose in their life.
What do you consider to be your biggest influences as a writer?
Most authors I liked made me want to write a book like theirs. Piers Anthony made me want to be as creative as possible in my writing, instead of just parroting books I’ve read.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research for your stories?
Coral reef reproduction as it pertains to a character from the battle over Alexandria during the rein of King Ptolemy VIII.
What do you hope readers take away from your stories?
First and foremost that they enjoy themselves. Secondly that each book makes them think a little bit. And third, that someone – even one person – is inspired to write their own book after reading mine. That’s what fantasy authors did for me, and if I can do that for someone else, that would be amazing.
Would you rather have a pet dragon or a unicorn, why?
Dragon. They’re badass. Although I’ve had both in my books. A rude, sarcastic skeletal dragon called Nemesis, and a…gifted unicorn named Peter.
If you could have any magical ability, what would it be?
Healing people. I’m a physician, so I naturally want to make people better!
If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
Vi. I feel like her survival skills would keep me alive…if she didn’t kill me for my lame Dad jokes, that is. My wife has considered it, but she’s waiting for my life insurance application to be processed.
What would you name your pet dragon?
Unicorn. Now I get to have both!
Where is the best place to start reading your work?
*It depends on your tastes. If you like classic coming-of-age fantasy, Runic Awakening.
If you prefer to have your heartstrings pulled at, The Magic Collector. If you like gritty medieval fantasy, Hunter of Legends.
If magic mushroom-based magic in a steampunk world is your thing, Elazar the Magician.
And if you enjoy inappropriate humor, Inappropriate Magic!
About the author.
Clayton Wood is the author of the Runic series, the Fate of Legends series, the Magic of Havenwood series, the Magic of Magic series, and the Masks of Eternity series. He’s been a computer programmer, graphics designer, martial-arts instructor, and now works in the medical field. He has a wife and three wonderful children.
Writing was always Clayton’s passion, but it wasn’t until the birth of his first son that he found the inspiration necessary to finish his first book. Five years later, he published Runic Awakening, the first entry in the Runic Series.
Find Clayton online: