Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Interview with Dan Koboldt, author of The Rogue Retrieval

Please welcome Dan Koboldt to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Rogue Retrieval was published on January 19th by Harper Voyager Impulse.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Dan:  Unlike many authors, I haven't been writing fiction my whole life. I started on January 9th, 2008, which was the first day of the "Fiction Writing" night class I took at my university. Even though I'd been a voracious reader for most of my life, and a somewhat-prolific blogger, I had no idea how to write prose.

I was, by most accounts, very bad at it. But books have always been my escape, and the idea of getting one published enchanted me. I took another course the following year, and I wrote my first novel in 2009 during NaNoWriMo.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Dan:  I used to be a discovery writer (pantser) and still use that method when I'm stuck. However, I discovered Larry Brooks's Story Structure a couple of years ago, and now I use it to outline my books before I write. It's usually not a detailed outline, but I think the structure helps a lot.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Dan:  Getting words on the page. I'm a fast editor, and I've finished the 50k mark for the last seven NaNoWriMos. Outside of November, however, I find it hard to keep that pace. I have a family and a job and far too many distractions.

TQWhat has influenced/influences your writing?

Dan:  Twenty five years of reading sci-fi and fantasy gave me the foundation to write in this genre. Lord of the Rings and the original Star Wars movies taught me to love the trilogy. I read a lot of work by modern SF/F authors, and it's hard not to be influenced by the likes of Rothfuss, Abercrombie, and Lynch. But the strongest influences on my own writing by far are my critique partners and editors. They've been vital in helping me improve my book and grow as a writer.

TQDescribe The Rogue Retrieval in 140 characters or less.

Dan:  A Vegas magician uses high-tech illusions of magic to save his bacon in a medieval world where they have the real thing (magic, not bacon).

TQTell us something about The Rogue Retrieval that is not found in the book description.

Dan:  It's the first book in a planned trilogy about the fight to control the fate of a pristine medieval world.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Rogue Retrieval? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Dan:  I love illusionists and high-tech stuff, but I'm also a fan of the escape that second-world epic fantasy offers to the reader. Once I figured out a way to have both in the same book, I just had to write it. My favorite thing about writing fantasy is the world-building. I start with a map of the world, and I build it as I go along. Alissia is the third such world I've created, and I think it's probably the most compelling, too.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Rogue Retrieval?

Dan:  I've done a fair amount of research into modern illusions and how they're performed, which never ceases to amaze me. I also researched high-tech drones, surveillance equipment, automatic weapons, graphene, and horse doping.

TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Dan:  Quinn Bradley, the Vegas illusionist, was the easiest to write because I pictured myself as him. Veena Chaudri, the cultural expert, was the hardest because I didn't have much experience writing from the female point of view.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Rogue Retrieval?

Dan:  I think the most obvious social issue addressed in my book is the problem of corporate exploitation. In the real world, large corporations get away with murder in the name of profits because they're so much more powerful than their victims. Their money lets them exert heavy influence over the legal system and the media. An entity like the U.S. Government might have the authority to intervene, but corporations use political donations and lobbyists to make sure that doesn't happen. It's a shame, but it's how the world works.

TQWhich question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Dan:  No one has yet asked me if *I* can do any magic along the lines of my main character. The answer is yes! I've been working on a few little tricks that I might break out at future book events.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Rogue Retrieval.

Dan:  My favorite quote is from the first page, and it's about the two types of illusionists you find in Las Vegas: "One was the quick-fingered hack, the kind that copied everyone’s tricks to use on drunken tourists. The second class, the true illusionist, ran less common. Illusionists were magic’s elite, masters of distraction and misdirection. The Strip drew both classes from all over the world, just as its game tables and bright lights drew ill-fated gamblers."

TQWhat's next?

Dan:  Right now I'm finishing up the sequel to The Rogue Retrieval, tentatively entitled THE ISLAND DECEPTION.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Dan:  Thank you so much for having me. I love the Qwillery!

TQGosh. Thank you!

The Rogue Retrieval
Harper Voyager Impulse, January 19, 2016
eBook, 384 pages

Sleight of hand…in another land

Stage magician Quinn Bradley has one dream: to headline his own show on the Vegas Strip. And with talent scouts in the audience wowed by his latest performance, he knows he’s about to make the big-time.

What he doesn’t expect is an offer to go on a quest to a place where magic is all too real.

That's how he finds himself in Alissia, a world connected to ours by a secret portal owned by a powerful corporation. He’s after an employee who has gone rogue, and that’s the least of his problems. Alissia has true magicians…and the penalty for impersonating one is death. In a world where even a twelve-year-old could beat Quinn in a swordfight, it's only a matter of time until the tricks up his sleeves run out.

Scientist and blogger Dan Koboldt weaves wonder, humor, and heart into this debut novel, The Rogue Retrieval. Fans of Terry Brooks and Terry Pratchett will find this a thrilling read.

About Dan

Dan Koboldt is a genetics researcher and fantasy/science fiction author.. He has co-authored more than 60 publications in Nature, Human Mutation, Genome Research, The New England Journal of Medicine, Cell, and other scientific journals. Dan is also an avid hunter and outdoorsman. He lives with his wife and children in St. Louis, where the deer take their revenge by eating the flowers in his backyard.

The Rogue Retrieval is his first novel. You can find him online at and on Twitter at

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