Welcome to the table.
I recently had a chance to sit down with author Wendy Vogel and speak with her about her new novel The Risen based in Outland Entertainments’ world of Nightfell.
Anton Kromoff: Hello, Wendy and thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. Before we dive into this amazing world and your new literary endeavor, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Wendy Vogel: Hi, and thanks for inviting me! I’m D.W. Vogel–Wendy–author of Outland Entertainment’s newest novel, The Risen. In real life, I’m a veterinarian, cancer survivor, board game designer, and SCUBA diver, and I live in Cincinnati with my husband Andrew and a houseful of rescue cats.
Anton: Nightfell has a comic and a tabletop role-playing game. How was your approach to crafting a story based around these already existing publications different from your normal process?
Wendy: I’ve worked with existing intellectual properties before–on Super Dungeon: The Forgotten King–and honestly, I love it. The challenge of finding a new story to tell in a world that’s already framed is so different from the usual sci-fi worldbuilding I did in my Horizon Alpha dinosaur world series.
The trick is to figure out where the current canon has space to fill out the existing world; whether that means a prequel, a sequel, or a side story that complements the existing lore. For The Risen, I realized that the comic introduces a legion of soldiers that have been frozen in an icy mountain for so long that they’ve been forgotten (and subsequently rediscovered). Where did they come from? Why were they abandoned there? Those questions kicked off the journey, and although The Risen answers them, the story turned out not to be about the soldiers at all, but about others who lived to tell their tale.
Anton: Can you tell us a little bit about the story of The Risen?
Wendy: In the world of Nightfell, the suns shine for 90 years without setting. At Nightfell, their light disappears, leaving the land in darkness for a decade. During that decade, the intelligent insect monsters who have hidden underground for a century emerge to destroy everything humans built in the years of light. Living humans have no chance against their numbers and strength–but humans have a secret weapon.
When the suns set, the dead Rise. Awakened from 90 years of sleep, the dead fight with superhuman strength to protect the living. The Risen takes place long before the time of the comic, in Somteh–the city of science. They have made a pact with the insects of Beneath, and live in peace during this Nightfell’s darkness. The Risen dead aren’t warriors; they’re slaves. But the truce is shakey, and the Risen are in rebellion. A scientist’s discovery will change the Risen forever, and a husband searching for his wife will either save the city or destroy it.
Anton: Where did you draw inspiration for the characters in The Risen?
Wendy: There are three main characters in The Risen. Sorreg is the brains. She’s an ambitious scientist in Somteh who has learned to work with the Beneathers–the intelligent insects–as she tries to make a name for herself. When she discovers a fungal spore that affects the undead humans in an unexpected way, she risks her career to stop its spread. Dolen is the heart. His wife is in labor with their first child, and it’s not going well.
He must travel into the monster-infested mountains to find the healer with the herbs that can save her and the baby. His journey leads him much further than he ever imagined. Rayli is the strength. In Somteh’s seedy underbelly, she will lead the warriors who are the city’s only chance at survival when the truce falls apart.
Anton: What does your process look like? Is there a lot of notes and mood-boarding, or do you just bang out the first draft all in one go?
Wendy: I’m a plotter, especially when I’m working in someone else’s world. Before I started this story, I wanted to be sure that all the elements fit into the existing canon, so I sorted out my basic outline and ran everything past Nicolas Giacondino, creator of the Nightfell world.
Once I had the key story elements and timelines set out, it was time to start the journey. I write my manuscripts straight through, start to finish, then revise with the editors at Outland. Honestly, once I had the plot and character arcs down, the actual manuscript just poured out. This particular book was a joy to write, and I hope readers feel that on the pages.
Anton: Do you have other new projects on the horizon we can keep an eye out for?
Wendy: My next release will be a horror novel, Trouble the Water, coming in August from JournalStone Publishing. It’s the story of a woman who must return to the now-defunct religious cult where she was raised and finds the ghosts of her childhood waiting for her.
Anton: Will you be returning to the world of Nightfell in the near future?
W: I’d love to spend more time in Nightfell! We’re developing a card game based in the world, and I contributed a couple of settings to the RPG, so I’m quite at home with the Risen and the Beneathers. If the right story needs to be told, I’m ready to tell it.
Anton: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. I know I am excited to dig into this book as I was a fan of the TTRPG system. Before we go please tell our readers where they can follow you so they can keep up with your creative works.
Wendy: My website is www.wendyvogelbooks.com, and you can sign up for my newsletter there. I’m on Twitter as @drwendyv. Thanks so much! Can’t wait to share The Risen with the world!
Until next time, may your undead guardians always protect your lost children.