C.L. Denault is a speculative fiction writer who loves dreaming up tales of adventure and intrigue. A former systems analyst, she gave up her nerdy code-writing skills to stay home with her children (including a son with special needs), and currently lives among the vast stretches of cornfields in Illinois.
Writing and blogging are two of her passions, along with drinking coffee and watching sci-fi and horror flicks. When she’s not hanging out with her family, she can usually be found at a library or tucked away in the shadowy corner of a hip coffeehouse. She’s also been glimpsed sneaking into her garage, late at night, to work on her time machine.
- What made you write the Gambit?
Actually, I started Gambit for fun. I was editing a different novel (one that hasn’t been published) and needed a break. So when I watched an episode of Alphas and got the intense urge to create a world where people with extraordinary skills had risen to power, I jumped on it and just started writing.
- What have you in mind to make a character like Willow? She’s aggressive and intelligent and she’s one of the female characters that I think I like – there are a lot of irritating female protagonist but she’s one of the characters, I learn to love and to like, How did you do that? How did you come up with her personality?
I didn’t really plan Willow’s personality. Writing Gambit was a spur-of-the-moment idea, and I pulled her out of my head without thinking. But she does symbolize the kind of girl I wanted to be at sixteen: brave, strong, willing to stand up for herself and those she loves. She’s caught up in adventure and—as Reece put it—stands to inherit a great destiny. In some ways, I’m giving her the kind of life I would have loved to live.
- Gambit is a Science Fantasy book and a little bit of Dystopian in a sense, how did you come up with the genre of your novel? Did you plot it to be that way or did you ended writing it like that?
Genre is the last thing on my mind when it comes to writing. I’m more about ideas and connections. Wherever the story ends up, it ends up. But my ideas usually revolve around sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, and horror elements. They often blend, so my work typically falls into more than one genre (like it did with Gambit).
- If we are going to enter to Fenn’s mind who will he choose for her daughter, Willow? Reece or Thess? Why?
Fenn is a compassionate, intelligent man who wants what’s best for everyone. Sometimes he’ll fight for one person, and other times, his intuition leads him to stand up for the greater good. He’s just getting to know Willow, so it’s hard to predict what he will end up thinking is best for her.
- How did you come up with their names? I find it odd to have a female protagonist to have a name of “Willow” and male characters such as “Reece” and “Thess” to have feminine names.
Coming up with the names was fun, and also quite personal. You can read more about that in my blog post The Prodigy Chronicles Trivia: Names. Honestly, I think that as society evolves, people’s names will become more about symbolism and trends rather than gender, and this is reflected in my writing.
- How many books will there be? I want more!
I think there will be at least three books, possibly more. My writing tends to be very focused, and I have difficulty stretching it out over large chunks of time. Gambit, for example, takes place over a 4-5 week time period. I know all the major events and how the saga will end, but am giving myself wiggle room in between. So don’t call it a trilogy yet, because I want to keep my options open!
- You pretty make a good job with Willow’s argument, how did you do that? I was in awe and I was stunned, she can backfire anyone! She’s good!
Thanks! Willow does argue a lot, doesn’t she? She’s pretty stubborn and was raised by a family with strong survival instincts and village standards. I craft her arguments by looking at the issues from her perspective. By putting myself in her shoes, I feel what she feels. But I don’t always create her comebacks right away. A lot of thought goes into them. I could never backfire people in real life the way she does.
- I was so fascinated that you did write an amazing tension from the two characters, is that what you plan on the beginning? Or it just happened and you thought that it could be good to keep moving? What do you think about the tension between the two?
The tension between Willow and Reece wasn’t planned, but once I felt it, I used it to develop the story and move things forward. I actually like their tension. It keeps me on my toes.
- I don’t like Morry but I wanted to give her a chance, I like Fenn but I don’t know if I can trust him, How did you manage to write two characters with opposite personality? If I were to choose I want Fenn over Morry but if its you, who will be? And how did you manage to balance out their personality?
There’s more to both Fenn and Morry than meets the eye. They’ve been through a lot together—more than Gambit readers know—and I hope to bring out more of their struggles and victories in future books.
- So, Thess is haven’t yet introduced properly on this book, what’s to look forward with him? I don’t find him good and I doubt him and I think he’s in love with Morrigan, will he play as the next heir to be bound to the heiress, Willow or will he play out his emotions?
No, I didn’t really have time to develop Thess, but I’m planning on putting more of him in the sequel. Because he showed up late in Gambit, readers don’t know how he feels about the switch. Suffice it to say that he’s dealing with the same kind of trauma as Willow, and is responding according to his circumstances. More will be revealed.
- In Gambit, readers didn’t really have a glimpse what was the rebels was fighting for, they are risking their lives too much but we don’t have any clue what’s to expect, will there be new characters to anticipate on your next book?
Yes, there will absolutely be new characters and more about the rebels in the sequel.
- This is kind of random but how does it feel to publish a novel?
It feels great! I always wanted to publish a novel, so this is a dream come true for me. Gambit’s release day was one of the best days of my life. It’s also fascinating to be part of the publication process and work with so many talented people. I never knew how much effort went into putting a book together! The entire experience is truly amazing.
- Experimenting DNA genetic code and studying Ritters, if I look it in different way, it defies human ethics, how did you come up with that kind of idea?
Tampering with genetics is a topic that’s been around for a while, and it’s often a key element in sci-fi stories. The movie Splice is a graphic example of how a scientist’s good intentions can have devastating effects. You’re right that genetic tampering defies human ethics—and I think at some point in our future, humanity will be dealing with that. So it felt like a realistic “next step” to build this element into Willow’s world.
- What’s your favorite food? Name 5!
Oh, heavens! I love food, so this is hard. My top five would probably include grilled salmon, orange chicken, lasagna, chips w/salsa, and bacon. Seriously, anything with bacon.
How come you didn’t include Pizza? I love bacon but at the same time, I love Pizza!
- Okay, I asked this to everyone I interviewed with, what is your favorite quote in your book?
I have a lot of Gambit favorites, but the one I love the most is when Reece says, “My little butterfly has a stinger.” A simple phrase, but very revealing, and I always carry that one around in my heart.
Thanks for the interview, Rafael! It’s been a pleasure!
I woke up receiving this answers, you wouldn’t imagine how my eyes went from cat-eyes like to a full bloom eyes! I am excited receiving this, been anticipating the author’s response, I’ve been checking my e-mail a lot and I can’t contain my happiness, when I received this! Thank you so much, Ms. Denault! Thank you. I demand for the second book!