Welcome back, HoneyScribblers, and welcome if you're new here!
Today, we have a special guest with us: the one and only D.A. Mucci! Emergency Room physician turned fantasy writer, D.A. Mucci delivers an epic tale in his debut novel, Ignatius and The Swords of Nostaw. Readers will be able to meet the book’s not-so-average high schooler Iggy, along with nearly 50 other enchanting characters on October. 19h, 2021 with its release from St. Bart’s Publishing.
Without further ado, read on and enjoy! (and stay tuned for the very end where I post my review and rating of the book!!)
Iggy, 15-years-old, was good at 3 things…
…science, witty retorts, and running from a fight.
Was there anything worse than High School?
When his clever, peace-making verbal volley, failed, and the guy pulled a switch blade, Iggy took off. The locket he wore warmed up. Suddenly, he wasn’t in Susquehanna, PA anymore. Before he could gather his wits…
…someone had tackled him.
Pinned on the ground, his assailant bade him to be quiet. Something was going on just up ahead. A horrifying looking knight in black armor and a strange looking creature were locked in battle.
The knight won.
His foe, a large dog-bird beast, lay dying. Iggy sensed evil had won. When the man let him up, they eased forward to check see if it was dead.
With its dying words…
…the warrior gave Iggy his sword.
And thus, the adventure began.
In the World of Skye, they need a hero.
And Iggy just might be the one they’re looking for, even if he’s not so sure.
Interview with the Author
1. Let's start with the basics—Ignatius and the Swords of Nostaw comes to a whopping 286 pages. How long did it take you to write it?
While I had the story brewing up in my head for quite a while, once the pandemic hit and the early uncertainty of not knowing if I was exposing my family to a deadly virus I was bringing home from the ER patients was weighing on me. I began to self-isolate more at home. My wife encouraged me to focus on writing this story about Ignatius during all the early pandemic craziness, so it took about 5-6 months, with some back and forth with my editor, to really get the story settled to a point that readers could enjoy.
2. I think it’s inspiring how you made this book an escape from your life as an Emergency Room physician. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I started writing on and off as a medical student, likely to provide relief from the hours of studying each day. I took many years off to improve my writing skills, learning how to develop a plot and all the other intricacies of writing a manuscript. I don’t have all those skills fully honed yet but believe me I’m a much better writer now than I was 45 years ago.
3. Where did you get the idea for your book? Adding on to that, what made you choose the genre, fantasy, in particular?
I spend my days dealing with patients suffering from trauma, sickness, mental health issues and addiction. It was natural to me to want to write a story far away from all that in another location that didn’t exist. As I began writing though, I found myself incorporating features of so many people I have met in my life journey into characters in the story. So while the location took me away from my everyday life, I found myself incorporating the unique strengths, passions, and compassion I had come across in so many that I have met.
4. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your book?
I learned my imagination can take me much further than I ever thought it would. While using some locations and folklore for inspiration, really letting my imagination go helped me craft a story of a teen that I think readers of all ages can enjoy.
5. This has been a topic amongst writers for as long as I can remember, and it would be interesting to hear your thoughts about it—do you believe in writer’s block? What does the term mean to you?
I don’t like the negative term: writers block. I believe all writers suffer from the inability to generate “creative ideas” at some point. When this happens to me, I just start typing. I know what is hitting the page is never going to be seen by others. My wife has told me for years that ideas are often released: when in motion, around water, or near falling into or awakening from sleep. For me, being in motion, the act of typing and reflecting and walking around my house helps me release new creative ideas. By just typing, the ideas start to flow, the ideas build on each other, and once you finish you find you may have some creative ideas of value that can be added to your manuscript as the editing process moves forward.
6. What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
This story is really about characters. While I love to tell a story with lots of action, I hope the reader will find this book is about characters that have amazing strengths, while they may not be considered “a hero”. I work with a team of healthcare providers every day. During a patient trauma in the ER I may be the one inspiring calm by directing action in a firm way, but it is all those playing a role in assisting patients as part of a cohesive team that really make patient care come together successfully. No physician should think they are omnipotent. Those you work or even live with have valuable ideas that should be listened to as the situation permits. Iggy has lots of amazing people that help him in his journey in this story, each having something of value and lessons to be taught associated with them.
7. Are there any perspectives or beliefs that you challenged with this work?
One significant belief I hope the reader walks away with is that all people, no matter your gender or age or skin color or disability has the ability to achieve. You’ll see a very diverse set of characters in the book that each help others in the story in a unique way.
Another of the beliefs that I most tried to challenge is what I talked about in the last question, each person no matter how insignificant that person may feel, has an important value. During the pandemic we’ve seen mental health issues dramatically rise because people could not interact with others as quarantine occurred. Every person has the potential to be a hero to someone in their everyday life. It could be a senior taking the time to tell a story to a younger person who needs to hear that people across all ages have experienced similar situations that may feel tenuous, children and teens can help a working parent or caregiver as they are struggling to get some down time due to work and chores, parents and caregivers can stop long enough to hear the story a child/teen/parent wants to tell and feel listened to. It’s the day-to-day efforts that can make such a huge difference in others’ lives.
8. Are there any characters in your book that are similar to you or to people you know?
Well, Ignatius does begin with the letter “I”. I graduated high school at 4 foot 11 inches (a late bloomer) and was not one of the popular kids. So I gave Iggy some characteristics that I was feeling as I went through high school all those decades ago. And each of my characters has aspects of someone I have met either as a patient or in my personal life. I’ve treated a lot of patients over the last 40 years and have traveled to many parts of the world in the last 60 years, so I met a lot of people that could inspire characters.
9. I’ve heard many people say that the book cover was the first thing that grabbed their attention, but for me personally, it was the title. How did you come up with it? Were there any others you had to choose from?
I have only had one friend from high school figure out part of the book’s title nuance and write to me about it. Way to go Tom! I think Ignatius is a unique name and wanted a character that didn’t have a run-of-the-mill popular name. Nostaw pays homage to our pet dog Watson who moved on to heaven in early 2019. He was quite the character and as a 12 pound shih tzu was fierce in his own way. Nostaw is Watson spelled backwards. The artist that illustrated the fantastical characters from the book, which is posted on my author website started with a photo of Watson and made him look badass (see DAMucci.com). Readers will also find that there are several QR codes embedded in the beginning of some chapters of the book. Each code will take you to an illustration of a character or castle introduced in that chapter, which is posted on my website. This allows the reader to visually see how I conceived the creatures and castles to look.
10. This is a question your readers have been dying to know—if you could meet any of your characters, what would you say to them?
I would shout out to Madam Trinity the cliché catch phrase: Rock On! She dances to the tune of a different drummer, displays the affect of a dingbat, while sharing indispensable wisdom along the way. You need to listen closer to her to appreciate her wisdom. She’s one character you don’t want to form an opinion about based upon what you see and hear.
11. As a bookworm myself, I know how thrilling it feels when authors create spin-offs for their main series. If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, who would you pick?
There are a few great spinoff possibilities with such a rich set of characters: The Nostaw, Tilead, and how he came to be in the Kingdom of Skye: Allistair and how he came to be the minister of defense in Matreach; How the adepts and the Rune magic culture came to settle in Dinas Affaraon.
12. Would you care to share something about yourself that your readers don’t know (yet)?
I have been married for over 25 years to my wife Jeanne and thank God every day that I have her support and wisdom to lean on as I go through life’s challenges. I have two young adult children that have provided invaluable feedback on my writing ideas. For example, my son offered up the idea of the QR codes embedded in the manuscript. My daughter helped me find just the right voice to narrate the audiobook of my story. As I progressed through the cover design and other aspects of completing the book for release, I had a fabulous group of family and friends that became my “focus group”. I presented ideas to them and they gave me feedback. The final cover was an interesting collaboration of different designs that my focus group liked about each of the two potential designs. I’m so fortunate to have such a wonderful set of families and friends to support me on my journey as a writer.
13. Finally, has writing and publishing a book changed the way you see yourself? If so, how?
While I have always been grateful to have such a strong support group of friends and family around me, writing this book helped me realize just how much I rely on those around me to help me keep an even keel in the most stressful of times. I’ve found myself developing characters supporting Iggy through all his challenges, as I have faced some unusual challenges through the pandemic. I am blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life.
Anddd that concludes the interview! Before we head on over to the review, I just want to thank D.A. Mucci for taking the time to answer these questions for his excited readers. I know they—and I, myself—can't wait for the book to release in just a matter of days! A reminder to you all: the book is coming out in only 2 DAYS!! You hear me?? This Tuesday! Make sure to stay on top of news and events from Mucci's Instagram and website so you can get your copy of this fantasy novel as soon as it releases! (I know I will).
Now, on to the book review!
Title: Ignatius and the Swords of Nostaw
Author: D.A. Mucci
My rating: ★★★★
To begin, there are several characters that we meet in the book. There's Ignatius, of course, who everyone calls "Iggy" for short. I personally love Iggy the most. I feel like I could really relate and understand him, which is what every reader wants when reading in the main character's POV. Mucci provides an excellent character arc for him that leaves me in awe the entire time. Iggy goes from being a fearful 15 year old to a brave boy who has more strength than he or anyone else realizes. It's amazing to see the shift in his character throughout the story and be able to watch his change in persona based on the world he lives in and the people he meets along the way.
The other main characters include his brother, John, and his aunt, Gwen. These two show up in the beginning of the story, and I really like the bond they all share with one another. It's apparent that he has a loving family who cares for him just as much as he cares for them, and without spoiling, I believe that the readers can greatly empathize with the family.
Along with these characters are two new ones that are introduced a little after the beginning of the book: Lecque and Raraesa. These siblings play an important role in the story and Iggy's character development. They help him uncover the best parts of him and are certainly going to be fan favourites. Lecque grew on me A LOT by the end of the story. He turned out to be not what I expected—and I'm totally okay with that.
I love Raraesa a lot. She's one hundred thousand percent my favourite female character. She is a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants and can handle herself. Like, she can sword fight and throw punches. Amazing. Also, she and Iggy are the cutest thing ever. You can't see me right now, but I'm practically squealing to myself just thinking about the two of them. Ahh.
Furthermore, we have Madam Trinity and Trafagla. These women are another one of my favourites (I've only just realized now how many favourites I have...oops). Anyways, I remember getting so excited reading about them in scenes and seeing the way their minds worked (because it sure worked in extraordinary ways). Their scenes always kept my eyes glued to my kindle screen.
Then we have Nyraeda. I was a bit hesitant about her at first, but by the end of the book, I really did like her a lot. An unforgettable character, she is.
To finish off, we have Emperor Mallak and Kylian. These two are very interesting characters. Emperor Mallak is basically the villain of the story, and Kylian is the victim of his brother's sins. Their best friend, Ulric, who's a guard working for Mallak, is like the peacemaker between the two, which I really like about him. He stays loyal to both of them, despite them being on opposite sides (good vs. evil, you can say). Ansel, the blacksmith, is another great character. Kinda spoiler: The ending scene with Ansel and *someone else* left me SHOOK. I'm still not over it.
Other than that, the other side characters are briefly mentioned, but I do want to make a note about the Matreach Council of six Ministers, and Allistair.
H a t e d t h e m.
They were being so cruel to Iggy T-T.
Minister Riverirson is fine, though. He's a strange one, but not bad. Not bad at all.
Now, the plot of the story is really interesting. Since it's a high-fantasy novel, the story really dives into complex themes about destiny and other worldly-dimensions. I really loved the whole aspect of it all and the worldbuilding was absolutely magnificent. *chef's kiss*
To summarize, Iggy is told of a prophecy about the person he is and the person he must be to find his way back home to his family. The story follows Iggy as he navigates his way through a new world with new people, all while trying to hide a secret truth that's threatening to unravel his entire plan and spark the attention of the worst kind of evil.
The plot of the story kept me on my toes the entire time. There were a ton of twists that I didn't see coming and wish I had. Ever know that feeling? Well, if you read this book, you're sure going to feel that way.
It's evident that Mucci took a lot of time building a solid plot, and I was seriously impressed and amazed at the work he put into this story.
For a high-fantasy piece of work, it's really spot on with the genre.
Now, you may be wondering: wow, you're saying all these amazing things about the story but still gave it 4 stars. Well, I'm about to explain why I did that here.
Throughout the story, we not only get to read Iggy's POV in past tense, third person (which I absolutely love), but we also get a bunch of other POVs as well, like Lecque's, Nyraeda's, Ulric's, Trafagla's, some guards', and more. For me, I've never read so many different perspectives in a book, which made it a bit confusing for me to keep up with whose thoughts I'm reading. At times, I did end up getting lost and thinking that the scene was in one person's perspective, when it was really in another person's.
Mucci did an amazing job in showing, not telling through his writing, but for me, the various changes in POVs sometimes felt overwhelming. Still, I do believe that he made an excellent choice of using third person, past tense for this story (and I'm not just saying that because it's my favourite tense and POV to read and write in).
The characters and most of all, story itself, fit really well with this form of writing style, and the descriptions were so so good. I felt like I was actually in the world with the characters.
In conclusion, I would give this book 4 stars. As I said before, the only thing that set me off was the number of POVs in the story, but everything else was so detailed and well thought-out. You could clearly tell that Mucci wrote this from the heart and put so much effort into his book, which I acknowledge and give him full respect for.
All in all, this interview was an amazing experience, and I'm really grateful for this opportunity! If you are looking for your next read, a fantasy one at that, you will NOT be disappointed if you go check out Ignatius and The Swords of Nostaw! I couldn't recommend it enough, and I look forward to seeing more works from this talented author in the future! (Note to the author: please give us readers—me—the sequel soon! I need to know what happens next T-T )
Alright, thank you for tuning in to this week's post! Let me know if you want to see more posts like this, or if you would like to be the next person to be interviewed! Just send me a message through the contact form on my website or message me on Instagram, where I'm always active and post 4-5 times a week! (@hxneyscribbles)
Talk to you soon HoneyScribblers, and until next time xx Stay safe and healthy!