Stanley Wheeler is the author of the Tomahawks and Dragon Fire series. This alternate history “flintlock fantasy” series is set in an American Revolutionary War where dragons have come back after a century. He’s also written a number of books in other genres, but more on that in the interview itself.


Tamara Wilhite: What led you to write the “Tomahawks and Dragon Fire” series?

Stanley Wheeler:  A few years ago I started writing a story set in pre-Columbian North America that involved dragons. Although that story has some good things to tell, and I’ll probably return to it eventually as part of the backstory in this same universe, I finally decided that I wanted to start my story during the revolutionary war. I enjoy the study of history, and I like the challenge of meshing fantasy with historical events. Also, I love the story of the creation of the United States, the founding fathers, the struggle for independence, and all that. There’s a certain freedom in writing fantasy, and it’s also fun to read. I simply put together two things I love. I would love to see more people interested in the inspiring story of our nation’s founding.


Tamara Wilhite: You’re up to four books. Do you think there will be a fifth?

Stanley Wheeler:  Certainly. It took three books to get my characters through 1775. It may take nine books, or more, in total to complete the series. The problem is that cool new ideas, which were not in the original outline, rise up and commandeer the narrative. In fact, book five will tell the rest of the story that book four was supposed to tell but didn’t because a couple intriguing developments promised to inject even more awesome into the story. These unexpected elements aren’t merely side trips. They figure into and are integral to the plot and character development.


Tamara Wilhite: Most science fiction / fantasy authors only write that genre. You’re the first I’ve seen write noir detective novels. Can you explain what that genre is? And how does it differ from conventional mystery novels?

Stanley Wheeler: I think of a conventional mystery as something like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot books where there is a mystery that a detective solves by discovering clues and putting them together like puzzle pieces. A noir has the mystery solving component but is more like The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep with elements that might include a cynical or hard-bitten detective, intriguing women, interesting lighting, some deadpan description, an interesting turn of phrase, and jargon from the era, all seasoned with a generous dose of fisticuffs and gunplay. Think Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, or Mickey Spillane. I have to admit that my novel is on the lighter side of noir with a little humor here and there.


Tamara Wilhite: And what is your detective novel “Smoke” about?

Stanley Wheeler: Without giving away the first rather minor spoiler, Smoke is a novel about a reluctant detective who has returned from the horrors of WWII. He is pulled into a mystery by a beautiful dame who wants him to find her husband. Rival restauranteurs, organized crime, and suspicious cops complicate his investigation. However, his client provides the most serious distraction, and he begins to wonder if he is in love with a murderer. The story is told mostly in the first person, but there is a running side story told in the third person that involves the protagonist’s secretary. I had a terrific time researching and writing this novel. I can pick it up and read a couple paragraphs and find myself sucked back into the story. Several of my family and friends are pestering me to write another novel featuring this detective and his secretary.


Tamara Wilhite: How did you end up writing a Western novel series?

Stanley Wheeler: Justice in Season is actually the first book I wrote and published. It all began with a newspaper article. I read the article and thought, “This should be a book, or at least part of one.” I researched the matter, about the vigilantes and outlaws in the gold fields of the Idaho Territory, and married my fictional story to some of the historical events that I found interesting. I have since written the sequel, Justice Resurgent, and I may eventually write a third book which features the same protagonist.


Tamara Wilhite: How does the writing and marketing of each of these genres differ?

Stanley Wheeler: The great thing about writing is getting into the skin of the characters that I create. Writing in different genres allows me to inhabit not merely a new character, but a different era as well. Each genre has its unique flavor or atmosphere. I think writing in any genre is all about finding that atmosphere and wrapping the story within it. As for the marketing of each genre, you’ll have to ask someone else. I’m still learning about marketing.


Tamara Wilhite: What are you currently working on?

Stanley Wheeler: Before I complete book five in the Tomahawks and Dragon Fire fantasy series, I have another book that I have to write while certain elements of the story remain speculation rather than reality. I’ve set aside the completed portion of book five to write this standalone novel. In this dystopian thriller, Don Morgan is a hardworking man struggling to get by in a world encumbered by rules, regulations and intense government intrusion. He labors under the additional burden of not meeting any of the intersectional criteria deemed necessary to receive many basic services. When a girl is seized by mysterious creatures, Morgan may be the only hope she has. Will he be able to save her from a horrible fate when he must struggle against the government and its many agents, as well as the strange creatures who have taken her? I hope to finish and publish this book before the end of the year. Book five in the fantasy series will follow.


Tamara Wilhite: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Stanley Wheeler: A major theme of my writing can be summed with this quote I copied from one of my blog entries: “The cause of America is in great measure the cause of all mankind,” wrote Thomas Paine. “The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.”

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Here’s a link to my books and brief descriptions on my website where a click on the book image will take one to the book’s Amazon page.


Tamara Wilhite: Thanks for speaking with me.