Daniel Arenson - A World of Danger, Secrets, and Wonder
Daniel Arenson is a bookworm, proud geek, and USA Today bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction. His novels have sold over a million copies. The Huffington Post has called his writing "full of soul." He's written over seventy novels. As our Author of the Day, he tells us about his book, The Moth Saga.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Moth Saga is about.
Moth is about a world torn in two--its one half always in sunlight, the other cloaked in endless night. The planet is tidally locked. Some cultures evolved on the sunlit side, others on the dark side. Each side treats the other with suspicion and fear. The series is about what happens when both sides are forced into conflict.
What inspired you to write this saga? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
I wanted to write about how we view those different from us. The sunlit side of Moth is partly inspired by European cultures, while the dark side is inspired by Asian cultures. Sadly, throughout our history, the west and east have fought wars. Moth is inspired by conflicts like the Vietnam War, Korean War, Philippine–American War, and others where two very different cultures clashed.
Why did you pick the planet Mythimna as the backdrop for your story?
The planet's main continent is shaped like a moth. One wing is located on the sunlit side, the other on the dark side. I enjoyed creating cultures that don't have concepts of day or night. One side of the planet fears the dark. The other side lives in perpetual darkness. It's a backdrop for creating interesting cultures. For example, fire is sacred on the dark side, because it brings light and heat, which are critical for survival. While on the sunlit side, people can barely handle darkness and fear it, because they almost never experience it.
The people in this story have evolved differently due to their environment. Why did you create them this way?
The world of Moth stopped spinning long ago, leaving humans to evolve separately. The humans on the dark side evolved larger eyes, pale skin, and larger ears -- adaptations to survive better in the darkness. Most plant life also died on the dark side, meaning the entire ecosystem had to adapt. Animals there live off mushrooms, molds, and algaes that evolved to survive in the darkness.
The Moth Saga explores some deep themes, such as the "us" vs. "them" mentality. Why did you find this important to write about?
The original inspiration was the clash between "west" and "east." I myself am Middle Eastern. I'm from the "border area" between western and eastern cultures, so I find this separation of our world to be fascinating.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I really enjoy music. I play a little (badly) but mostly listen. In fact, Moth has an original soundtrack, composed and performed by musician Ekaterina. You can hear it here: https://youtu.be/NAqudhczcgE
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
All the time! I can't control them. They do whatever they want.
You also included some romance in this story. Why did you take this approach?
Not long before writing Moth, I saw the opera Madama Butterfly performed in Toronto. The story revolves around a doomed romance between an American sailor and a Japanese geisha. That inspired parts of the Moth saga, so I included a romance between a man from the sunlit side and a woman from the dark side.
Why fantasy? What drew you to the genre?
When I was a kid in the 80s, I was invited to join a D&D group. I moved a lot as a kid, sometimes every year, so I could never keep a single D&D group going for long. So instead I began to devour D&D novels from TSR -- Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and others. Then I moved on to other fantasy series like The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Amber, and many others. I've been reading fantasy since.
Did you plot all of this out before you started writing, or did some of it just "happen" along the way?
I plotted the first novel meticulously, scene by scene. By the second novel, though, I allowed myself to pants it more.
What was your greatest challenge when creating The Moth Saga?
The world building. I created many different cultures and countries on each side of the map, and I wanted each one to feel distinct. It was a challenge but lots of fun.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I grab a coffee, put on loud music (usually metal), and try to avoid distractions as much as possible. Some days the writing flows, sometimes it's harder, but I always enjoy the process.
What are you working on right now?
I'm currently working on A Time for Freedom, the 8th book in my Starship Freedom series, which will be released in late 2022.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Visit my website. On the homepage, you can sign up to my newsletter. I'll send you three free novels right away, and we'll keep in touch via email. Here is the website: DanielArenson.com