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Author Interview: David Litwack

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Trix Lee-Rainwater is talking with David Litwack, author of The Maker of Worlds.

FQ: What was the initial spark of inspiration that led you to write The Maker of Worlds?

LITWACK: Inspiration often starts from the oddest of places, and the resulting novel may end up far from that seed. This idea began when I’d gone for a walk to the Locks in Ballard, Washington.

The locks allow boats to pass from Puget Sound to Lake Washington, adjusting for a water height difference that can be as much as thirty feet. I watched as a modest sailboat with a lone sailor on board entered. The massive iron gate closed behind him, and the water began to drain. The level lowered leaving him with four surrounding walls well above his head, obscuring the view of what lay beyond.

When the level had settled, the gate in front began to creak open. I imagined what might happen if he found on the other side, not the familiar lake, but a new and unexpected scene. What if he saw something more like a magical realm that let him leave his troubles behind and provide the opportunity to conjure a new world.

FQ: Lucas and Mia both carry significant emotional baggage from their pasts. How did you approach developing their complex inner lives and making their personal journeys feel authentic alongside the fantastical elements?

LITWACK: For different reasons, both had lost hope in their prior lives—why they risked the maelstrom. As they progress through their new world, testing out their emerging powers, each responds in different ways, sometimes throwing them into conflict. But underlying all lay the desire to discover a more hopeful future. That is their bond.

FQ: The theme of finding meaning and purpose in life is central. How do the journeys of Lucas and Mia reflect your own views on this universal human struggle?

LITWACK: Someone once told me you need three things to find happiness: Something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for. These two had lost all three and in their grief, were reluctant to accept new ones. Only through overcoming adversity and having their values repeatedly tested did they find their way.

FQ: One of the key themes seems to be the tension between individuality/personal desires and the needs of the larger community. How did you approach navigating that thematic territory?

LITWACK: All those who pass through the maelstrom to the enchanted land gain magical powers, which they learn to use over time. The more they learn, the more their power grows. The easiest way to use magic is to lord over those less powerful, serving one’s own desires, but such power doesn’t bring happiness. Discovering when and how to use that power tests your character and determines what kind of person you’ve become.

FQ: Lucas and Mia’s relationship is central to the narrative. How did you approach developing their dynamic and the evolution of their bond over the course of the story?

LITWACK: After a trauma, grief doesn’t easily allow one to trust again. During their journey, they’re challenged by adversity and are constantly forced to negotiate the right path. As they become pilgrims through a strange land, making hard choices and confronting their demons, their trust grows as does their bond with each other.

FQ: The book raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of reality, the limits of personal power, and the responsibilities that come with profound abilities. What do you hope readers will take away from those themes?

LITWACK: We tend to think there’s a single reality, yet when people look at the same set of events, they often respond in dramatically different ways, with joy, fear, anger etc. How we respond to the world around us affects our view of reality. In this book, magic is merely an extreme form of choosing our reality, if one only believes hard enough. And the choices we make can sometimes change the world.

FQ: Can you talk about the storytelling techniques you employed, such as the use of dreams/visions, to propel the narrative forward?

LITWACK: Except for the first chapter, none of the story takes place in their old ‘real’ world’ But to deepen character, I needed to give each of them a meaningful backstory. Some of that could be done with dialog, but I wanted them mostly in the moment rather than in the past. The dream sequences reveal more about their character but in a way that sets up the next major event of the story.

FQ: The ending leaves the possibility of Lucas and Mia moving on to a new world/realm. What possibilities excite you about continuing their adventures?

LITWACK: While the story is complete as is, once these characters have tasted adventure, there’s always the possibility of more to come. CS Lewis did this across seven novels in the Narnia chronicles, with characters aging and evolving as they return to the magical realm for new adventures.

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