While many people may think that “magic fantasy authors” are the complete opposite to “scientists”, Weiqi Wang preserves his own opinions. As a D. Phil graduate from Oxford University, Weiqi loves to be both. He feels that philosophy is a way in which to explain the world; some choose to use scientific languages, some also put it into fantasy. As our Author of the Day, Wang tells us all about his latest book, Code of Rainbow.
Please give us a short introduction to what Code of Rainbow is about.
The motivation of writing this series is to bridge magic fantasy with sci-fi, so the most unique part of this series is that it’s not just a “traditional" magic fantasy, but will become more and more of a sci-fi as the storyline goes. Storyline wise, it is about a boy growing up to be a powerful being in a magic world, and reveal the fundamental reasons and knowledges on how and why the universe has been what it has been. So it's a unique genre that mixes magic fantasy with sci-fi, and I don’t think people have a name for this genre yet.
The magic world in this series is enormous. As a starter, there are different types of magic elements that serve as the source of magic conduct. The magic elements are everywhere, which is why wizards can summon them and spell. Each type of elements has a desginated color, but they are invisible to naked eyes - unless someone has very rarely special eyes to see the colors - the main character, Soarame, being one of them. Some animals in this world can spell magic too, and for that they were called "magimals". The main character will grow up with his buddy magimal along a series of adventures.
What inspired you to come up with a rainbow code of seven types of magic elements?
I like colors. The seven types of magic elements: Fire, Water, Wind, Earth, Lightning, Light and Darkness are my preset magic elements and they happened to be seven, so I named them after rainbow code. The reason for the number of element types being seven has a lot to do with the sci-fi part of this series. I won’t be a spoiler here but as the story goes on readers will find out why it is not 6, not 8, but 7.
Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you
1. I’m a data scientist, obtained my PhD degree from University of Oxford, UK. I have been writing this series since my study in UK but the self-publishing system was not there back then, and I only realized its existence after I came to USA.
2. I’m an animal lover. That’s why there is such a concept “magimal” in the book - it refers to magic-gifted animals. They can spell magic just like wizards do.
3. I was born in China and have been all over the world. This made my thinking and taste quite “international".
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Harry Potter. My magic system and storyline are completely different from it, but because my series is a coming-of-age story, I didn’t find a good way to let my main character grow since young without a magic school - that feels a bit too similar to Harry Potter. So I wish I wrote this book earlier :)
Do any of your characters take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them?
Maybe Dileys and Jemario, the two girls that has most connection with Soarame (the main character). I had to adjust their plots as the story developed.
Have changes in your own life affected any of your characters?
Yes. My sense of fairness and justice made Soarame, the main character, and his core friends. And yes I’ve seen some shitty people in my life, so their ugly part goes into the bad guys in the story.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I’m a data scientist with extensive experiences on medical data, so I’m proficient with statistics, data mining, programming and some biomedicine knowledge. I do some cartoon sketching too. I used to be an athlete till graduate, so I do many different kinds of sports. Oh ya, I know magic too :D
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I combine these two fashions. I outline the big picture, set the key feathers of world building and characters, plan the milestone in the story, but in terms of detailed plots, dialogues, etc. I’ll take spontaneous ideas.
Is there something that compels you to write? And do you find that writing helps you achieve a clarity about yourself or ideas you've been struggling with?
Yes. There are some serious problems that I felt that I must write something about. One of them being the abusing and traffic in wild animals. Greed made people mistreat them or kill them - an extreme scenario being live skin-peeling of minks, foxes and so on. They peel their skins alive so that their fur can sell at a better price for fur coat manufacture. Since I saw some bloody cruel videos about that, I swore to god I would never purchase any single fur coat. There are more social problems that made me want to write and reflect them in my fantasies - those include but not limited to discrimination, sense of value, bullying and all kind of unfair things that have always been going on and on but not everyone cares about them.
On the scientific side, I believe that my series is the one of the very first pioneers that tried to bridge sci-fi with magic fantasy, because they are supposed to be incompatible; but I think I have a way to make it work. As the story goes on, people will see how the foundation of an enormous magic world get explained by scientific assumptions/hypotheses. I think this is a unique attempt so far - at least I’ve never heard of anyone doing the same thing in the same level of depth as mine. I’m grateful that I have a chance to do this thanks to my strong scientific background and decent writing skills at the same time; so I felt that it’s a shame not to make this challenging attempt. With this series (and possibly other books in the future), I'm trying to not only create stories with this unique purpose, but also create a new genre on that.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
Bridging magic with science. That’s by far the greatest challenge. Another one is bridging oriental thinking with western style of taste, if you know what I mean by that - I was born in China but been to different countries, so I have a strong feeling that peoples’ taste and sense are quite different from time to time. And there are more challenges such as embracing different age groups etc.
Does writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes present any particular problems?
Switching mind between a magic world and the reality is tough. Maybe not particular problems but it’s a problem in general and it lasts for ever.
Talk to us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
I write only when I’m in the mood. So when a writing day hits me, I dive completely into the writing, and generate 30k words. But that’s the easy part - the hard part is to check them over and over again, and do all kinds of polishing. I made ~100 times of updates to the 1st book in this series.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
1. My website: www.codeofrainbow.com (I give out free ebooks there)
2. email: [email protected]
3. facebook: http://www.facebook.com/codeofrainbow
4. a very helpful 3rd-party page, where I had answered many questions regarding Code of Rainbow series: http://authorsama.amafeed.com/feel-free-to-ask-me-anything-about-code-of-rainbow-609571