Today we welcome Young Adult Fantasy Author and Emergency Room Physician, Dr. D. A. Mucci to Novels Alive to answer our interview questions. Welcome!
What drives your story forward in your books the most, the characters or the plot, or do you feel they are intertwined?
When I started writing “Ignatius and The Swords of Nostaw” it was a plot-driven action adventure fantasy. Quickly though, I realized that it was actually the characters that drive the story. Plot and characterization have to be intertwined, otherwise you have a one-dimensional story. When readers finish this book, they don’t ask what is going to happen in the plot, they ask what is going to happen with Iggy, Raraesa, Madam Trinity…this is definitely a character-driven story.
If you were a character in one of your books, which would you be? The protagonist, mentor, villain, love interest, etc.?
I would definitely be the protagonist. I love to go on adventures in life. I like having experiences that are new to me. I love to travel, eat at new restaurants, walk my dog in a new location, venture out to a new day trip location, watch new plays at a local playhouse and enjoy programs offered at small local museums. I definitely would want to be the protagonist on an adventure.
If you had the power to make any of your books into a film, which would it be and why?
Seeing that this is book one of a five book series, it would be book one, of course (followed by the movies for books 2-5).
Is there a particular genre of fiction that you have always wanted to write, but haven’t yet tackled?
Many years ago, I attempted a medical fiction thriller, then a military techno thriller. They did not turn out very well. I did not fully understand how to develop a story. Years later as a reader, I found myself naturally gravitating to YA Lit fantasy, especially since my children enjoy that genre and we often listen to audiobooks together on long drives. I simply fell into wanting to write YA fantasy.
If you could meet a literary character or author, who would you most like to meet?
Neil Gaiman. I find his writing fascinating. He pushes so many boundaries and at times ignores literary rules, which you forget about because you are immersed in his stories.
As with the rest of us, you have a real life to live. So, in your most recent book, what was happening in your life and how did it influence your writing?
As an Emergency Medicine Physician, the pandemic filled my life with unknowns. I used that as one of the themes for “Ignatius and the Swords of Nostaw.” Ignatius—Iggy, as he likes to be called—is thrown into a world of unknowns. He must learn to trust others, trust himself and grow. This was similar to the world of medicine during the pandemic, especially being an Emergency Room Physician. Covid was a new virus we had no experience treating. As medical providers, we had to trust ourselves, trust each other and learn how to adapt. This all definitely influenced my story as I wrote about Iggy.
Was there something in your first edit that didn’t make it in the final copy that you sometimes wish you would have kept?
There are many chapters that didn’t make it through the first edit. The floor is littered with discarded scenes. I can honestly say if there was a scene I felt strongly about, I was able to work it into the story. As an author you need to decide, does that scene move the story forward, or do I want to keep it in because I put effort into writing it and hate seeing my efforts deleted. A skilled editor can help you realize what parts of scenes are unnecessary or can be tweaked to help move the story along while honoring your writing style and ideas. So, I am happy with what is in the final manuscript and do not feel there is anything I cut from the first, second or third edit that I wish I kept.
What do you do to prepare your mind to write? To get into the mind of your characters.
I often have my feet propped up on my desk and my wife thinks I am daydreaming. In a way, I am. I am putting myself there in the scene, being the characters, asking myself what they would really say, how they would really act and react, trying to make the characters realistic. I find the reader can then relate more to the characters and want to root for them if there is a sense of realism. Readers are then more invested in the characters and want to know what happens next.
What book as a child/adolescent most influenced you as a writer?
I wasn’t an avid reader when I was younger because there wasn’t a ton of fantasy books out there for younger readers. In early years, I was so grateful to have Dr. Seuss’s creative books to enjoy, rather than just read about Jane, Dick and Spot. I do remember reading all the Hardy Boys stories later, but I especially loved comic books. Yep, I loved comic books like Superman and Batman.
How much research went into your last book?
I did a lot of research into the Isle of Sky and used this as a template for the Kingdom of Skye. I also dug deeply into folklore in early Africa and Scotland proper. I found that using myths and legends gave a lot more realism to the story and the people that live in the four different lands in the book. That research continues so that more interesting cultures, societies and norms can be woven into the story as it progresses through books 2-5.
What’s one of the most important things you’d like your readers to know about you? What defines you most as an author?
I love to tell stories. One’s imagination should know no boundaries.
What is one thing about you that may surprise your readers?
That I am 67 years old writing a YA Lit fantasy story. To most people that sounds like an unlikely combination. I live by the adage: You are only as old as you feel. If you tell yourself, you are old, then you are, and it holds you back from accomplishing your dreams.
Can you tell us what prompted you to write your latest release?
I was isolated from my family, quarantining for months after working shifts as an Emergency Room Physician. With all that time, writing this fantasy book help me relax and allow my mind to flow away from the horrors of dealing with Covid patients. Writing was an escape for me.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
At present I am knee deep into writing book 2 of the Ignatius series.
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
The towering stone Castle Maol, the unrivaled seat of power in the Kingdom of Skye, sat inland almost bereft of life.
Once known for its inspirational beauty, Skye’s forests and meadows were more barren than green now, enveloped by stillness instead of bustling wildlife. Lakes and waterways once teeming with marine life lay stagnant. Most of those who lived here survived under gray clouds of despair.
Several of the eldest knew of the prophecy that would return the land to its prior golden age and quietly hoped it was true.
Only a handful knew the secret that would allow the prophecy to come true. They refused to speak of it.
Fifteen-year-old Iggy is good at three things: languages, witty retorts, and running from a fight. When a guy pulls a knife on him during a high school argument, all the banter in the world isn’t enough to save him, so Iggy resorts to his backup plan—running. But before he can make his escape, the locket he always wears around his neck heats up, and someone tackles him from behind, pinning him to the ground.
Iggy’s never thought of himself as a fighter. He’s spent his life running from anything that can’t be solved with a quick one-liner or a snarky comeback. But as he learns more about the strange place he’s landed, one thing becomes abundantly clear: in the World on Skye, they need a hero. And Iggy just might be the one they’re looking for, even if he’s not so sure.
Being an Emergency Room physician for close to forty years, Dr. Mucci found that the pandemic brought forth new horrors in the ER. Writing this fantasy story about Ignatius became an enjoyable escape for him from all that was happening in the real world.