An Interview With Author of the DEATHS OF TAO WESLEY CHU
Earlier this month I was given the opportunity to speak to best selling author Wesley Chu about the sequel to his first novel “The Lives of Tao” which is aptly entitled “The Deaths of Tao.” Now if you haven’t read either of these novels there is some spoiler-ish material inside. I highly recommend going and picking them up though as they are a fun read. Now on to the interview!!!
-First and foremost I wanted to say it was happenstance that I stumbled across your first book “The Lives of Tao”. I was looking for books with my nephew and he is the one who pointed out the cover, I read the back and from there I was hooked. My first question, after this bit of gushing is, Where did you come up with this premise?
I’ve always been a big history buff and wanted to write a book that not so much rewrote what happened in history, but retold why things happened the way they did. After all, our past is one pretty damn interesting sandbox and there’s enough fascinating stuff that happened back then that I didn’t need to make anything up. However, explaining things in from a new angle (aliens, secret societies, oh my!) opened up many possibilities.
That was the original premise. Once I introduced Roen and Tao and put them together, the story changed a little. The war for control over humanity’s evolution took a back seat to the bromance that this odd couple developed. It was unexpected and a real joy to explore, so I went with it.
-In the first novel we meet Roen Tan who is sad pudgy, and you eventually not only start to like the guy but root for him, and feel for him throughout the book. Into the second book it is a different Roen, darker, and in the beginning of “The Deaths of Tao” a bit of a jerk how did this character evolution come to be? And considering all things that occurred at the end of the second book what can we expect from Roen?
I approached Roen’s characterization in Deaths as someone who, for the past five years, had been laden with the burdens of war, family, and revenge. He can’t be the same wide-eyed naïve guy we knew and loved in Lives. To be fair, he was already starting to change near the end of the first book. Fast forward a few years and the reader sees Roen as a guy who is being pulled in several directions and is kind of falling apart at the seams.
As for what readers can expect from Roen in the third book, well, that’s a secret and you’re going to have to read it when The Rebirth of Tao comes out, assuming he lives through Deaths. *cough*But yes, I have character bios pretty fleshed out before I start writing. I will tell you; things get worse before they get better. My poor characters; I really put them through hell.
Suck it up, Roen.
-From guns, to martial arts, to just general dialogue I’ve interviewed enough authors to know that a lot of work, research, and time goes into the nuances of writing a book of this caliber. How difficult was it writing these out for you especially with the amount of history you throw in? What about the fight scenes, did you use any visual aides to help you adapt them to the books?
Not gonna lie; it was tough. There is a ton of history in this series and it required a lot of research. Not only did I have to continually fact check for accuracy, I had to lay everything out so that all the puzzle pieces fit together.
As for the fight scenes, I used to be able to act out every scene in the first book. I say used to because I’m getting older and I’m not so limber anymore. And yes, writing about concussions came from experience, and no I never tore anyone’s arm off. Or got shot. Or had to ever tail someone. Though I did get my ass kicked by girls (all the time) before and did tried to mug a mugger once.
-With creating a new race of beings such as the Quasings in the first book what difficulties did you stumble upon?
It took me a while to lay out the ground rules for how the aliens operate, and I believe it’s these two rules that really define the relationships in the series.
- The Quasing can only communicate with their hosts. They cannot control them except poorly during states of unconsciousness.
- The Quasing cannot leave the host until the host dies.
Basically, this means the host and the alien are stuck with each other and have to figure a way to get along This forces them to have to communicate and form a relationship where both are dependent on each other in order to survive and achieve their objectives.
-How many books do you forsee these becoming? What surprises can we expect within the next one considering how you left the second one?
I could see these books become an extended series, assuming these guys live long enough. I had also envisioned writing other books in this universe, either as standalones or as trilogies, following other Quasing and their hosts. The war is vast and there are many players involved, and there are still many interesting facets to explore.
For now though, there is one more planned, tentatively titled The Rebirth of Tao. In this book, which should complete the immediate storyline, the Genjix are awfully close to the plans they unfolded in Deaths. There’s a new faction involved too in the war, and they are kicking everyone’s ass. That’s all I’m going to spill for now. =)