Discover Dreams of Fire by Council of Geeks’ Nathaniel Wayne
What do you get when you mash elemental magic and a tale of escape and intrigue? Suppose you combined a world of electropunk technology with whimsical faeire dangers? What you get when these things collide is the novel Dreams of Fire. Dreams of Fire is an upcoming electropunk fey novel of intrigue and self discovery by Council of Geeks YouTube sensation and debut novelist Nathaniel Wayne. I had the privilege of interviewing Nathaniel about their upcoming work over on my YouTube channel. What’s more, beyond this interview, Nathaniel graciously agreed to answer a few more questions in the form of text, and I’ve included that interview below.
Featured Image: Art from Dreams of Fire: An Illustrated Fantasy Novel by Nathaniel Wayne. Dreams of Fire is a fantasy adventure in a world divided between electropunk technology wielding humans and magical Fey creatures. [Illustrated by Natalie Linn]
Hello! Could you please introduce yourself and your platform?
“My name is Nathaniel Wayne and I run a pair of YouTube channels, Council of Geeks and Break Room of Geeks, where I talk about geeky properties and media as well as LGBTQ+ representation in media.”
We’re here today to discuss your upcoming electropunk faerie fantasy, Dreams of Fire. Would you be willing to pitch it?
“It’s a character focused high fantasy story without many of the usual trappings. There’s no epic quest, no chosen one, no rising evil, no war between kingdoms. It’s a story about one young man with abilities that scare him running for his freedom and the things and people he encounters along the way. I tend to think of it as a small story in a big world.”
You have a Kickstarter for this novel and it’s shattered through every stretch goal. Now, with only a few hours left in the campaign, what are your thoughts about this story’s journey, from inception to now?
“It’s actually almost embarrassing to realize how long I’ve been working on this. The initial seed that all this came from was just a basic scene premise that hit me while I was in college and couldn’t sleep. I idly toyed with the ideas and world for about a decade, eventually knuckled down and completed the first draft partly just to figure out if I even had a novel’s worth of events in mind. Turns out I did, and that draft was eight years ago. So over that time I’ve been getting rejected by publishers, setting it aside to work on other things and eventually hitting the point where I need to just get it out into the world so it’s not permanently occupying space in my brain. As for the Kickstarter, yeah I wasn’t prepared for that. I was pretty confident I’d hit that initial goal but that got hit within 12 hours and I ended up crying on a livestream when I realized that. It’s been a heck of a ride.”
With your own YouTube channels, you are a self proclaimed geek. What elements of your book do you think fellow geeks and nerds will latch onto and embrace?
“Well I like to think that I’ve sprinkled in the kinds of details that geeks like me have a tendency to latch onto. Bits of lore, glimpses of the wildworld and at a basic level I find that any story about coming into your own and feeling like you don’t belong tends to have a healthy amount of geek appeal. I know it does for me at least.”
It was mentioned that the book has elements of electropunk and fey. That’s a really unique combination. Could you talk about what inspired this wild setting?
“Well the initial template I started from nearly two decades ago was Final Fantasy VI. I obviously didn’t want to just steal it wholesale but it was a place to start and a world feel I quite enjoyed. A mix of tech and magic with cities being isolated pockets between swaths of dangerous wildlands. The fey aspect was almost accidental because there was a short story I’d written for a creative writing class and for some reason the idea of that story being an origin point for the status quo of the book world just popped into my head. I never entertained decoupling them ever since then.”
A key feature of this work is the magic. How many magic systems do you have in this world and how do your magic systems work in this book?
“I have two and they work pretty differently. There’s the elemental magic, which is what the main character Farris has, which is something that just kind of happens to people. It has pretty rigid rules. Any elemental only generates one kind of energy (for Farris it’s fire), and the amount of control over it is deliberately limited. You could stat out the elemental magics. But with the Fey, they have wild magic, which is very soft. Different species of Fey have specific types of magic but very few limits on what they’re able to do with it. I was comfortable leaving their abilities less defined because we only really ever get glimpses of the Fey world.”
In our in-person interview you mentioned your goal with Dreams of Fire was to have a big, fantastic world with big events but those weren’t the focus. Instead you focus on the everyman, the small time individual and the consequences of these events on their lives. Why did you make that creative decision?
“I feel like it’s a default thing for writers of fantasy to scale up their stories to feel like they’re doing justice to the worlds they create. And there’s nothing really wrong with that but it means we’ve got thousands of books where the fates of kingdoms or whole worlds are in the balance and not that many where we just get to live with the characters in the world. Big things still happen but I feel like every fantasy story is about the movers and shakers — the people who will be in the history books of this world. I just wasn’t drawn to their stories because I felt like I’d read them everywhere else I turn.”
Here at Nerdarchy we love fantasy, sci-fi and all manner of genres and a lot of these are wrapped into tabletop roleplaying games. Have you ever played a TTRPG like Dungeons & Dragons, or do you have any experience with them?
“Oh yes, I was in a gaming group for a while that sadly kind of fell apart for logistical reasons. But I’ve played D&D, Star Wars, Call of Cthulu, Cyberpunk, we even did a Transformers campaign once. It started as a joke, like we all had to pick out catch phrases to say with our transformations. So my character transformed into a DeLorean so the catchphrase was ‘1.21 gigawatts of whoop-ass!’ We largely just embarrassed ourselves on that one but in a fun way.”
This book really feels like a springboard to a much larger world full of stories and it feels like we’re only just getting to know Farris. Are you planning for this to be a series? If so, what do you envision that looking like?
“Well, I hope I don’t cook my own goose admitting to this but I’m about 85% of the way into the first draft of a companion book. There’s only one crossover character and it’s little more than a cameo but there are definitely other stories to tell in this world. This other one takes place on the other side of the continent and deals with alchemy, something that is mentioned in Dreams of Fire but didn’t really have a place in that story. As for Farris himself I honestly don’t know. I absolutely want to leave the impression that he’s got much more of his life ahead of him. I mean young as he is I should dang well hope so. But I don’t know if I’ll actually be driven to tell those stories. That’s a ‘time will tell’ situation.”
Is there anything else you think potential readers should know about your work or things you’d like to say on a personal note?
“Find something you love and make the time for it. Part of the reason this book was so long in the making is because it was pretty much my hobby while running the channels and until recently holding down a full time day job. But I always came back to it because it made me happy to work on, so in a way I’m almost proud of how long it’s taken. It’s a reminder that I never let go of the things that brought me joy.”
Thank you so much to Nathaniel Wayne for being part of this post!
Are you a reader? What sorts of novels do you like? We want to hear from you in the comments! If you want to connect with Nathaniel Wayne you can take a look at Council of Geeks on YouTube and check out Dreams of Fire here.