SPFBO 9 Semi-Finalist Interview: J.D.L. Rossell

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J.D.L. Rosell was swept away on a journey when he stepped foot outside his door and into The Hobbit, and he hasn’t stopped wandering since. In his writing, he tries to recapture the wonder, adventure, and poignancy that captivated him as a child. His explorations have taken him to worlds set in over a dozen novels and five series, which include Ranger of the Titan Wilds, Legend of Tal, The Runewar Saga, and The Famine Cycle.
When he’s not off on a quest, Rosell enjoys his newfound hobby of archery and older pastimes of hiking and landscape photography. But every hobbit returns home, and if you step softly and mind the potatoes, you may glimpse him curled up with his wife and two cats, Zelda and Abenthy, reading a good book or replaying his favorite video games.

Find him online: Webpage
The Last Ranger links: Amazon, Goodreads

Tell us about yourself! Favorite hobbies? Interesting anecdotes? Whatever you’d like to share.
Oh boy, is anyone less interesting than when they’re trying to be? But I’ll do my best!
I live in Colorado on the Front Range, so you can probably guess I’m a fan of mountains! You’d also be right to suppose I enjoy hiking and camping, and I’ve tagged on landscape photography as a hobby as well.
I also picked up archery for the writing of The Last Ranger and have found I quite enjoy it!
As for anecdotes, I’m usually not one for them, but here’s the best I have on hand. Sophomore year of college, I started off the semester as a new resident advisor by running around campus playing my saxophone to the tune of “Careless Whispers”—basically a homage to the “Sexy Sax Man” video. Had the time of my life!
You have several series under your belt. Why did you choose “The Last Ranger” to submit for SPFBO this year?
It was my only option, really! This is my fourth year in the competition, so I’ve exhausted the other possibilities.
I’m glad to be submitting it this year, however, as I think it’s my best effort among my submissions. We’ll see if the judges agree!
Do you plan to continue self-publishing, or would you consider traditional publishing if given the option?
I definitely plan to continue self-publishing, though I’d certainly consider doing more traditional deals. While I enjoy the creative control afforded to self-publishers, partnering with companies can expand your audience and reach. That can be worth giving up some rights and risks.
I’m already hybrid, by the way, as I’m with Podium Audio for my audiobooks. And I’m intending to get translation deals as well with overseas traditional publishers. So there are some plans in the works in that department.
What’s your favorite and least favorite parts of self-publishing?
My favorite part has to be controlling what I’m writing and when I write it. While I’ll also have self-imposed deadlines and some external time pressures, I rarely feel so boxed in that I can’t explore other ideas as they catch my fancy. And having the freedom to take my stories and characters wherever I deem fit is very fulfilling creatively speaking.
What I like least is the flipside of having control: everything’s on you. Specifically, there are tons of decisions you have to make each and every day. My head feels like an overripe melon even at the end of the best days!
What are the most important elements of writing a good story?
I’ll be that guy and say “good” can be quite subjective. Nevertheless, I’ll give you what I like to see in stories and call good:
Intriguing characters and relationships. No human is an island, and the best moments often come from poignant, emotional interactions.
Deep, complex, and possibly contradictory motivations. Nothing bores me more than a clear-cut goal and a straightforward method of getting there.
Unexpected, original, and coherent worldbuilding. If any of these are missing, for me, it becomes either trite or absurd.
A “Goldilocks” plot—not too fast, not too slow. It’s a hard balance to achieve, and one I’m always struggling to find myself.
Competent and surprising prose. Even the best of stories can flounder if they’re not propped up by clear and fresh composition.
Do you have any plans to expand upon the Ranger of the Titan Wilds series beyond the initial trilogy?
I do indeed—especially since the series isn’t a trilogy! As of right now, I’m planning on Ranger of the Titan Wilds entailing five books.
I’d also love to do a sequel series, but that’s still a distant possibility!
I’ve also flirted with doing stories set in the same world but on different continents and/or time periods. There’s nothing firm on that, however.

How do you celebrate when you finish a book? Any traditions involved?
Nothing ceremonial—no hogs sacrificed on altars or anything—but my wife and I will often have dinner out and enjoy an adult beverage or two. I may also take the afternoon off to go for a hike.
It’s good to acknowledge the milestones! With the time that books take to create, they’re fairly spread apart.
What advice would you give to your younger self who is just starting out?
Focus on the writing. Specifically, writing things you enjoy writing, but what you think you’d also enjoy reading. And, if you still have room to think about it, write what you see other people enjoying as well. That’s the intersection where you’ll probably have an audience, but keep loving what you’re doing.
If you feel the book is good enough and deserves it, don’t skimp on making it the best book you can. I probably rushed things early in my career, which meant I redid a lot of things later. Much better to get it done right the first time! That applies equally to the inside of the book as its presentation.
What are some of your favorite book or writing-related websites you frequent?
Wait, are you fishing for compliments? I kid, I kid…
Honestly, I consume most of my book and writing content through podcasts and YouTube.
On YouTube, some favorites are:
Petrik Leo’s channel
Library of a Viking
Into the Heartwyld
Mike’s Book Reviews
Andrew Watson
On podcasts, there’s even more, but I’ll restrict myself:
Publishing Rodeo
Self-Publishing Show
Sell More Books Show
Wish I’d Known Then… For Writers
SFF Addicts
Writers, Ink
The Fantasy and Sci-fi Fanatic’s Podcast
For websites, I’ll often pop over to them from social media. That includes:
Fantasy Book Critic, of course!
Escapist Book Co
Out of This World SFF Reviews
Scarlet Readz and Runz
I’m sure I’m missing folks—there’s just too many!
Can you recommend any good books you’ve read recently?
Absolutely! Here are some of my latest standouts:
The Pariah by Anthony Ryan
Dragon’s Reach by JA Andrews
The Will of the Many by James Islington
The Sword of Kaigan by ML Wang
The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan

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