What is your book about?
“Claudia supposed that this whole area was beautiful once. It still would be, really, if not for the destitute aura of it all.”
The Subterranea Saga began years ago with my first novel, “Crowe”. This book, “Claudia”, is the continuation of that original fantasy story. Set within a world where a single year spans a lifetime, book two follows Claudia Kobb as she continues the hunt for her father across the bitter and frozen surface of the World Above. Forced to take on an unlikely, and possibly untrustworthy guide, her journey will take her into the heart of the World Below and the vast subterranean city where demons live in secrecy and pull the strings of political power. With descriptive world building, enthralling battles of wands, and an entirely fresh take on demonology, “Claudia” is well deserving of its recent First Place win for Best Overall, Technical and Artistic Audiobook at BookFest 2023.
What inspired you to write the book?
Following some real-life catastrophes, the unthinkable happened. The original hand-written manuscript of “Claudia”, which was nearly finished, was utterly destroyed. Needless to say, this killed my urge to write for a very long time. Then one day, I decided that the story must go on. I opened Word and started writing.
At this time I also had the good fortune of stumbling upon my narrator, Stockton Harris, and convincing him to record an Audible version of “Crowe”. Together, we fell into a groove where I would write a chapter, he would record it, and then I’d write the next chapter. This unique approach allows me, as an author, to hear the tale as it is written. This unorthodox style of pantsing allows me to write with a resource most writers never unlock until the book is out there for the public. The story that emerged is an entirely different tale than I had originally written, and it is fabulous!
What is your target audience for the book?
I don’t really write for a “target audience”. I believe that a story should be written to tell the story, not to make it appeal to the masses so the author can laugh all the way to the bank. That said, “Claudia” seems to be really enjoyed by readers who like the wand-based magic of the Harry Potter series, and those old school readers who love the Underdark as it was written by R.A. Salvatore. My world building has been compared by reviewers to legends like Larry Henderson who wrote the Stainless Steel Rat series, and Robert E. Howard, the author of the Conan books.
What do you hope readers get out of your book?
Immersion. Complete and total immersion in both the world I’ve created and the characters who live there. There is nothing more wonderful than to have a reader walk up to me and unleash their passion about one of my books. One of my greatest author moments was a reader thrusting an accusing finger my way and yelling at me, in front of a room full of people, “You son of a b****! You’d better not kill off (character name) after what you did to (character name)!”
What are your future plans for the books?
Well, “Claudia” is the second book in a tetralogy. I’m currently working on the third book in the series, which I plan to simultaneously release for Kindle, as both paperback and hardcover, and on Audible as an audiobook narrated once again by Stockton Harris. I don’t want to mention any spoilers, but book three continues the overall story through the perspective of a new title character and solves the mysteries of many subtle things I’ve hidden within the first two books. The final book in the series will bring everything full circle and lay the foundation for any number of spin-off stories. What will I write next? Well, I am a writer who listens to my readers. Once this series concludes, I will write what my readers tell me they want to hear about. If they want the stories to continue following a certain group of characters that they’ve fallen in love with, then that is what they’ll get!
Tell us something more about yourself.
That’s pretty open ended. Alright, here goes. In addition to writing the Subterranea Saga, I’ve written a few short films that were produced and shown to audiences at film festivals. I’ve also written a one-act stage play that sadly ended up being performed after I’d moved halfway across the country back during my more adventurous years. I’ve heard it was met with a lot of laughs, which is good since it was a dark comedy.
The project I am the most excited about is writing the backstory for an (as of now) unannounced video game being developed by a AAA game studio. That will drop on PC and PS5 probably in 2025ish. More recently, I’ve worked with a close friend to write a table-top role-playing game, (think Dungeons and Dragons but post-apocalyptic and using a unique d100 system). I’m also creating a little indie game called “The HOLE”, which I will launch on Steam next year.
I’d like to give a big shout-out to Author’s Lounge for featuring me here. Y’all rock. And if you are a reader, please take a few minutes to post up reviews of my books. Reviews mean a lot to indie writers like me. A few positive words and some stars may be all that stands between a future reader discovering their new favorite author or clicking on to the next book in the endless abyss of indie books.
If you’d like to keep connected on social media, then give me a follow at “Wade Gustafson Books” on Facebook. Other links, or if you just want to chill and game, are on my Discord at https://discord.gg/wvTQggdd.