I don’t know about you, but it’s always fun to meet an author and have the opportunity to get to know him or her. Unfortunately, we can’t always do that in person, but interviews are a great way to get to know others and often lead to the ability to connect. In our online world, this is wonderful! And today we get the chance to meet David Webb, author of the YA dystopian novel The Light Thief.
David’s website: https://www.jdavidwebb.com/
The sun is dead. Humanity has moved deep underground. The Lightbringers have reinvented electricity. Their presence offers reassurance. But some prefer the shadows.
Aniya Lyons has never forgiven the Lightbringers for the abduction of her brother. She’s overjoyed when he escapes and returns three years later, but he comes bearing a dark secret. Before he can share it with her, the Lightbringers steal him away again and murder their parents. Aniya is devastated, and she knows that she’s next.
So Aniya plunges into the dark tunnels of the Web, where savages and mutated beasts lie in wait. She despairs that there is no safe place to hide, that she will be running for the rest of her life. But there is a glimmer of hope. If she can make it to the Lightbringers’ Hub before they hunt her down, she may be able to sneak in and rescue her brother.
But the closer Aniya gets to the Hub, the closer she gets to discovering the horrible truth that led to the destruction of her family. The dark secret the Lightbringers would do anything to protect. And if she chooses to use this secret against them, it may carry unimaginable consequences and a great cost that Aniya may never be ready to pay.
I came across David Webb’s upcoming release by accident through a mutual Facebook group and the cover grabbed my attention. When I saw that he was offering ARCs I couldn’t resist! And I’m glad I didn’t scroll on by.
David Webb has been writing as long as he can remember. For the last decade, his focus has shifted to full-length novels and screenplays, and he’s experimented in genres such as action, thriller, and horror.
His current series, The Light Thief, is planned as a nine-book series that is bound to keep readers engaged and guessing.
Getting to Know David
Rachael: So, David, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
David: As long as I can remember, literally. The knowledge that I wanted to write novels full-time didn’t come until I was 14, when I read Dragons in our Midst by Bryan Davis. I read those books over and over again, and they’re probably the reason my books exist.
Rachael: I love books that do that to us. As writers I think we all have that book (or books) we read over and over, that inspired us to make stories of our own. Now you’ve embarked on that writer dream. How long did it take you to write The Light Thief?
David: About ten months. I took a five-month break in the middle of it, so total writing time was about five months. Then another two years of revising, editing, putting it down and coming back to it later, etc.
Rachael: That is quite a process, and I bet during that time you were also subconciously planning out subsequent books in the seires, working on that whole plot arc in the back of your mind. When you sit down to do the actual writing, though, what does your writing process look like?
David: Grabbing a hot drink of some kind, sitting at a desk or a table in a coffee shop, putting in earbuds, and pounding at the keyboard until I can’t think anymore.
Rachael: Oh yes, earbuds! Do you listen to music when you write? With or without words?
David: I don’t think I have to, but I always do. I used to not be able to write while listening to music with words, but if it’s stuff I’m very familiar with, it’s not an issue. Especially if it’s EDM, because then the music more prominent than the words and often overpowers the lyrics. But I’ll also listen to instrumental music (Two Steps from Hell is one of my favorite for dramatic action scenes). And recently, I’ve been listening to the Jurassic Park theme song on repeat. Something about it gets me super pumped.
Rachael: I always enjoy Two Steps from Hell, although their band name always gives people a jolt when I say it out loud. haha We know you sit down with a warm drink and some good tunes. What was your process for writing this book?
David: Much longer and more involved than it needed to be, probably. The first few drafts were rather “typical,” aside from deciding a few thousand words from the end that this would be a series rather than a standalone. But I’ve been adding onto this book ever since I technically finished it three years ago. It would have been easy to just release it then, but I chose the smart/dumb route (depending on who you ask) and wrote the next four books in the series before I ever seriously considered publishing the first. I don’t regret a thing. It’s given me flexibility to modify things throughout the series and really tie everything together in a way that makes sense. Plus, now there is very little pressure on me to release the subsequent books as they are all already written.
Rachael: That’s a great route and shows a lot of forethought. It is also great for your readers who will be so happy to not have to wait for a year or more for the next installment to the story! Since The Light Thief is just the first in the series and there’s at least three more written, how many books are going to be in it?
David: Aiming for nine. Maybe ten. It depends on how I finish the second “phase” of books, I’ll call it.
Rachael: That’s great! Quite a series. Let’s talk more about the book. What inspired The Light Thief?
David: A writing prompt. A simple one that said only, “Write what happens when the lights go out.” I wrote a few hundred words and fell in love with the concept. So I just kept writing. That excerpt didn’t make it into the final version of the book because it didn’t fit the tone of the book, and it was written in first-person. But it served its fantastic purpose.
Rachael: I’m all about writing prompts. Gary Jefferies and I co-host a monthly writing prompt called #BlogBattle that often has this effect. We see lots of inspiration come from a simple idea. When I think of your book, I am reminded of other inspired works. One in particular I enjoyed is City of Ember. Your book–in small ways and definitely by location–reminds me of it. What sorts of things influenced the deep underground setting of The Light Thief?
David: Ironically, I never read City of Ember, nor had I even heard of it. I was in the middle of the first round of edits when someone said it reminded them of City of Ember. I kind of freaked out because there were a lot of similarities, but as far as I know, this is its own separate, unique story. But as for your actual question, the writing prompt was minimalistic (as most are), and I tend to take most things I do to the next level. I reasoned that if everyone was underground, there wouldn’t be any escape from the darkness when the lights went out. Sure enough, it made for a very fun setting.
Rachael: Not to worry. Your book isn’t really at its core anything like City of Ember. It’s just the idea of underground societies escaping a harsh, damaged world environment that has any similarity. Beyond that, they’re totally different. But speaking of the society, why is it underground?
David: The Overworld is in a state of irradiated decay, an inhospitable atmosphere that drove humanity deep underground to escape an awful extinction. That’s the most I can say on that for now.
Rachael: Haha No spoilers! I get it, and I can see how that is an important point of interest for the series. Instead, how about explaining how people stay alive down there. Was it hard to come up with how to explain food sources?
David: Not particularly. It made sense that the radiation drove certain animals deeper into the Earth, at least those that could make their way down. Other than that, with the seemingly unlimited tech the Lightbringers have access to, the “easy” answer was artificial food that they grow under specialized lights.
Rachael: Oh yeah! That’s a big part of the book’s plot and premise. Who are the Lightbringers?
David: The Lightbringers are little more than people smart/dedicated enough to find a way to generate electricity after the Earth was depleted of uranium. And when you’re the only ones with the answers a desperate world needs, it’s easy to hold that technology hostage and put yourself into a position of power.
Rachael: I haven’t figured out if the Lightbringers are good or bad yet (most notably, bad), so I’m wondering what twists their presence will bring in the next book! Let’s switch to Aniya Lyons. Tell us about your main character. What does she want most in life? What lies does she believe about herself?
David: Aniya Lyons is about to turn 18 and must make some hard decisions that were forced on her by the Lightbringers. She’s a graceful pickpocket and has a sharp wit that has gotten her out of many scrapes in the past. But when the Lightbringers come for her, these skills are useless, and she must turn to what she does best: running. Her greatest desire is a life free of the Lightbringers, but that means nothing to her if she can’t enjoy that life with the people she cares about. Her lie, ironically, is that she can do just that. That she can survive on her own, without help, without her family. This is what she tells herself because she thinks that makes her strong.
Rachael: Man, her whole world comes crashing down. It’s pretty tragic, really. I’m sure it was hard to write. What was the hardest part of the story to write?
David: Definitely the ending. Things take a sharp turn, as you know, and it becomes a very different story for the next two books. I had to write this in a way that wasn’t completely out of left field, made sense in the chaotic climax, and provided a somewhat smooth transition into a genre mashup. But it was the most rewarding section to write.
Rachael: And that’s the wisdom in writing several of the books before publishing. That gave you a chance to ensure all the parts of the story make sense, including the tragic parts.There’s a lot of sad deaths in the book. Which character do you wish could have lived (even though we know they had to go…)?
David: None of them. This is mostly because in addition to serving a very important purpose and their deaths being necessary to Aniya’s character and story (and, in my opinion, were not gratuitous), the departed characters return in prequels, and I get a chance to go into their character a little more. Though there is one character who never returns, the one who dies at the midpoint of the story, and that one definitely tore me up the most. But I believe that without that death, the book would not have the same ending.
Rachael: Sometimes deaths just make sense to the story, and I don’t disagree with you there. Hard deaths don’t mean wrong in this case, but the can be heartbreaking. In writing this book, would you say The Light Thief is straight up science fiction, or will there be a fantasy element to your series?
David: I’d say it’s straight-up dystopian action & adventure with science fiction and, yes, fantasy elements.
Rachael: Sounds like a good mix of genre. When is the next book coming in the series? We are all going to be looking forward to it.
David: The Phoenix Mandate will be coming March 2020 at the latest.
Rachael: Now, that’s exciting! We’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for that next book. I love that title. But I know I’ve kept you longer than planned, so one last question! If you were approached by a stranger in sunglasses and a trenchcoat on a mid-summer day who offered you a deal, saying he would ensure a million copies of your book sold and you’d be financially secure for the rest of your life in exchange for giving up your eyes, would you take the deal?
David: Probably not. I could live with the whole eyes being gone. I’d always be able to write using touch typing and/or dictation, and it would be cool to learn to live in a whole new way. But given that you could sell a million copies over time with good marketing, it’s not worth the risk of making a deal with what sounds like the devil.
Rachael: haha, David! Who knows what this dude would want to use your eyes for! I’m with you on that one. Thank you so very much for joining us here and letting me ask you a million questions. It’s been a real pleasure.
David: Thanks for having me! It’s really cool to do something like this for the first time.
Connect with David Webb on
You can buy The Light Thief in paperback or Kindle e-book on Amazon:
What’s your favorite dystopian novel? Do you even like dystopian? I know not everyone does. This one falls in there somewhere with Divergent and books like that, I think. After The Light Thief, what should our next bit dystopian action/adventure read be?