Greetings travelers. Last week, we had the lovely fortune of promoting the work of Vox Deruste. His debut feature fantasy, The New World: The Caribbean Witch, is an exciting and magical contemporary fantasy that you’re sure to enjoy. More recently though, we had a chance to talk to the storyteller about what might be coming next, and what bits of their process are. Read on to learn more about Vox Deruste.
Tellest: Hello Vox! Thank you for giving a voice to your characters, and for taking the time to use it here at Tellest. I’m intrigued to learn more about you, as it seems you have plenty of surprises and secrets tucked away. I don’t know too much about you yet, but I’m excited to change that over the course of this interview.
Vox Deruste: Hello, and yes that is partially by design that there is not info of me out there. For now, I like my privacy. But with the release of my first book, I thought it would be good to put some of myself out there.
T: One of the first things I like to do is try to determine just how the storyteller I’m talking to was directed toward their journey. A lot of the time, this is because of a favorite author or talespinner of their own. Who or what was it that lit the fire of creativity for you, and had you ready to tell your own stories?
VD: Three authors come to mind. Rick Riordan, Grant Morrison, and Neil Gaiman. While I aspired about being a writer before then, these three showed me what can it be used for. I also think the fact I hated something as well. I won’t say the show here, but I watch this show that basically misused some its elements so badly it drove me to write fanfic of what I thought would be better and to look into what makes good stories.
If nothing else, it shaped what I wanted to write and my approach to writing. Rescuing ideas that I felt were done dirty or explore tropes with twists.
T: What would you say are some of the cardinal sins of a show, movie, or story in some other form that misuses its elements? Is it ignorance of earlier storylines? A character acting completely antithetical to what they acted like before then? Or is it something else altogether?
VD: I say it’s when it takes something central to its identity, and then turns its back on it. What I mostly focus on is when they either do ideas that don’t fit their worlds or even forsake it for the sake of a bad idea. Retconning and dumbing down story concepts included.
T: We’re here, mostly, to talk about your latest story, The New Age: The Caribbean Witch. As something that came out very recently, what has been your experience so far in getting it out into virtual bookshelves for people to devour?
VD: A…tale and a half. Mostly from how many times I rewrote it. Partially from feedback and partially from my own changed ideas of the plot. And it has been…a trial watching it be out there. I was partially naïve about the actual effort of publishing and basically did all the advertising last minute. That is why only now the ads for are coming out for it.
Instead of being smart and leading up to it.
T: If you had to do everything over, what would be the way you would go about trying to prepare for release and get more attention on your book prior to the day it went live?
VD: I would make sure more ads were prepared, and hopefully a media release. Maybe some sponsors to people who could help draw attention to it.
T: The New Age: The Caribbean Witch is a pretty little package, and it wraps up nicely by the last page. It seems like it has strong enough legs to be a series as well though. Where do you stand on creating a sequel for your rather strong debut?
VD: I am already in the drafting phase, creating the outline and plot and veto and looking at what kind of characters to bring in for the sequel. I plan on one for every continent. The Caribbean Witch was North America, and the second book will be South America.
T: Before you know it, you’ll have a coven!
When it comes to the literary universe that you’re creating, do you find it important to find ways for the characters to cross over into the other tales? Or do you prefer one-offs and standalones? Or do they each have their benefits and drawbacks?
VD: It’s a series so it will be a continuing narrative. Maybe I write spinoffs for the universe but for now I’ll write for the main series.
T: While The New Age: The Caribbean Witch is your first commercial project, you’ve had a couple of your other stories launched out into the world wide web. Those stories were available for readers on Reedsy. How did you feel launching stories based on writing prompts helped prepare you for the greater strides of your journey?
VD: It was mostly attempts to try out for their writing contests while doing my day job—a job that demanded more of my attention which slowed down the short stories. I also used them to stress test the world a bit. To try out concepts that had to be axed from the main project for time or for not being important to themes. If anything, they mostly kept me from being rusty and at least making sure that I was always writing something.
I’m just thankful you missed the fanfic I wrote. And mostly confirmed that I buried it deep in the recess of the internet.
T: Just be happy I’m not taking that as a challenge!
Sometimes fanfiction grows into something tremendous, a monumental story all on its own. In a lot of cases, all it takes is a tweak to character names and settings to make magic happen. For the fan fiction you wrote, have you ever considered doing just that, and changing the presentation to suit a brand-new story?
VD: You have assumed I didn’t already done so? But in all seriousness. For the sake of reputation, I won’t be entertaining that idea. Maybe if a milestone was reached with the story.
T: Those short stories based off the writing prompts were each completed just under a year ago, and all three in a considerably close amount of time. When did all your stories sort of ferment into the kind of ideas that you were comfortable pursuing? Did you know before, during, or after your shorts that you were looking to do a feature length novel?
VD: I always knew about the novel first and again the shorts were attempts to win the weekly contests. I mostly stopped because I was waiting for the right prompt, but also partially from time constraints.
T: Do the short stories based on the writing prompts connect to your witch stories? Have you ever thought about going back and expanding on them at all?
VD: They were prototypes to the current series, so possibly. Also, I should probably preface that the witch part of my book is mostly just the title. I lean more into actual mythology as witches imagined in wicca and medieval Europe are modern inventions. It’s just a book title and a title of a character in story.
T: As of right now, your avatar is a phantom-like character with green energy that serves as their limbs. Does that character feature in any of your stories? How did you conceptualize the character?
VD: The character was made from the fact I find elemental beings cool. It started from a sketch a classmate made in high school that I did my own spin on, and I later commissioned two artists to draw it. I started to use it as an avatar online and it sorta stuck.
T: With such a cool character made, did you ever consider going back to the artists to help you develop other characters in your pantheon, or even something altogether different?
VD: The artist and I parted ways before leaving high school. Don’t even remember their name. I would like to get the artist to even make an illustrated version of the story, but it requires time and money that is not available now.
T: Vox Deruste is an interesting name that seems as though it might be helping to disguise your identity. My question, if you feel happy enough answering it, is whether or not it’s a pseudonym that’s for a different genre, and whether you writer other stories under a different name as well?
VD: Vox is everything I want to be. Getting real for a bit…I have problems of the self that I rather keep to myself and myself alone. And yes, I have some story ideas that gel with my sort of branding so the layer anonymity helps with that.
T: Does writing help to alleviate some of the nerves or anxiety that you might be drawing up against? Does it help to imagine yourself as part of your stories, perhaps as one of your characters, doing the things that you would love to do if given the opportunity? Do you think other people could utilize that as a sort of self-therapy?
VD: I don’t recommend it, but I won’t fault someone for doing so.
T: Vox Deruste is more than just an author pseudonym. It’s also a character that you’ve used in your stories at certain points. What makes a story worthy of Vox’s involvement? Was there at any point the idea of somehow incorporating them into your larger story?
VD: The idea I had at some point that Vox was a mystic being that is in every world, in some shape or form. Mostly based around my love of the multiverse. And again, the idea is that Vox is my idealized self to show people to make good impression. That’s something I always had trouble with. The beginning short stories being tests to see if he could work as a character that could a sort of cameo in other works. They were mostly background ones, like Poro’s in league of legends or Pikachu in Pokémon. He’s a kind of mascot.
T: You mentioned the multiverse. In your eyes, does the multiverse exist only in books that you’re creating, or do you imagine a situation where you could cross over to other books and series as well? Can you imagine any of your characters playing in any other creators’ sandboxes?
VD: I would love the second option. Any excuse to have interesting characters meet. Whether non-canon or not. And I would love to collaborate with any number of creators.
T: Do you have a website or a social media presence that we could direct fans to? There’s no doubt going to be plenty of people who want to know more about, and will need to know where to go to learn more!
VD: I plan on releasing a website when it is done, thought I am learning from scratch. I do have various profiles people are able to find me on. Usually with the name GrandArchive or Vderuste or some variation of those names. I even have a YouTube channel that has been horribly neglected.
While still a work in progress the address of the website is: https://www.grandarchive.net/
Youtube: Grand Archive
For those who want to see the artists that made the drawing of my form their user names on insta are:
T: What is next for you? Is it your South American witch story, or is something else altogether?
VD: South American mythology and yes. I might put out some shorter stories in-between while plot ironing.
T: Vox, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to me about your projects and your process. I know that we had a brief window to chat, but I feel as though I had a good chance to get to know you a bit better, and I hope our audience feels lucky to have that opportunity as well!
VD: I feel the same and hope they enjoy my story. My main objective is to write an enjoyable story. Above anything else.
T: Once again, I’d like to thank Vox Deruste for lending some of their time to working on this interview. As you can imagine, this talented storyteller has an array of projects that they’re working on, and to be given some of the time in between those projects is a lucky thing. While we wait on whatever project comes next, do make sure to check out The New Age: The Caribbean Witch on Amazon today!