Interview with J.D.L. Rosell, Author of The Last Ranger

27 Dec 2022

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Last Ranger: Ranger of the Titan Wilds, Book 1?

The inspiration for The Last Ranger came from a hodgepodge of places: other books, of course, but also games, history, and even musicals. These built the world: a newly colonized continent ravaged by spirit beasts called titans, and a magic with the power to move mountains or even attain immortality. All of these things excited me to set into this series. But when it comes down to it, stories are about people, so the main thing that compelled me to write was the protagonist and her journey.

The protagonist, Leiyn “Firebrand,” is a dynamic character. She often has a laconic way of speaking, and a hard temper to match, yet she’s loyal to the bone to her friends and comrades. But part of what I love to write in Leiyn is the pairing of her vulnerabilities with her strengths. She’s far from invincible, and she has many wounds from her past that color her present. To become her best self, she’ll have many hardships to overcome. Video games composed the majority of inspiration for Leiyn. The young, strong, and flawed protagonists of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Last of Us: Part II, and A Plague Tale: Innocence, all contributed aspects to who Leiyn is and the journey she undergoes.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of The Last Ranger: Ranger of the Titan Wilds, Book 1, what would they be?

As I mentioned above, Aloy, the protagonist of the Horizon video game series, was a major inspiration for the main character of The Last Ranger, and I would steal its theme song for Leiyn if I could!

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

This one’s easy: epic fantasy for both! I do read a bit outside of that, and I have a few stories started in other genres, but epic fantasy always draws me back in.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb is a current read that I’ve been dragging out, as I don’t want it to end! It’s the last book in Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings universe. The Martyr by Anthony Ryan is the second book in the Covenant of Steel. The first was fantastic, so I’m excited to continue the series. Last is a secret upcoming ARC from Michael Webb. Not sure I can say more about it, but the cover and concept are excellent!

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

While I have a lot of favorites in The Last Ranger, I tend to like writing beginnings and endings most. This time, I’ll go with Leiyn’s birth scene, which was the original prologue to the book, and now features as a flashback. I don’t often include birth scenes, or even flashbacks in general, but this one is crucial. Not only is this the inception of Leiyn, our main character, but it features the beginning of a magic she believes to be a curse, the loss of a parent, and the start of a crippling bias. Hopefully, you find it as impactful as it was for me to write!

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

If my cats would stay on my lap, I’d definitely opt for that one! I do have one quirk. On a whim, I bought two shirts a few months ago that I deemed my writing shirts. One just says “Author.” and the other is “This is my writing shirt.” I still chuckle every time I put them on!

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I’d struggle to live by only one quote—life is far too varied. However, there is one quote I think about often from Walt Whitman’s poem Song of Myself: Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

As a writer, you create many different kinds of characters, often with opposing motivations. Even more, for them to be compelling, you have to find ways to believe in those motivations, even when they’re appalling to you ordinarily. This quote really captures what that feeling is like, both in the creation of characters and the expression of the various parts of yourself.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

Redemption through sacrifice is a theme I return to again and again, and it’s hit upon heavily in The Last Ranger. In that spirit, I’ll leave you with a question: What would you give up everything for? Who or what would you save, no matter the cost?


J.D.L. Rosell is the author of the new book The Last Ranger: Ranger of the Titan Wilds, Book 1

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