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WebHD Exclusive: Andy Darcy Theo

Screenshot 2024-05-17 at 16.01.40

WebHD Exclusive

Meet the Mind Behind 'The Light That Blinds Us': Andy Darcy Theo, Bestselling Author

We had the pleasure of chatting with Andy Darcy Theo, a rising star in the literary world, whose journey from “Booktocker” on TikTok and “Bookstagrammer” on Instagram, now to an acclaimed author has captivated readers worldwide. His debut novel, “The Light That Blinds Us,” has soared to instant bestseller status, captivating audiences with its enchanting narrative and richly drawn characters.

Adding a layer of visual magic to Andy’s vibrant world is our very own Alex Forrest, the illustrator behind the captivating characters that leap from the pages of this remarkable tale. Together, Andy and Alex have created a literary and visual masterpiece that seamlessly blends storytelling and visual artistry, captivating the hearts and imaginations of readers everywhere.

Read on for the full interview!

Q&A

What inspired you to write this book and what was your writing journey like from initial idea to the finished project?

"The story of Alexis and his friends first came to me during an English writing project at school when I was 13 years old. We were told to write a one-page story ending on a cliffhanger. I, ever eager for academic validation and much to the frustration of my teacher who had to read it all, turned in a 40-page epic fantasy story that remains somewhat intact as the first quarter of The Light That Blinds Us. It seems that I struggled to stick to a word count even back then!

Daydreaming about the story and the characters became my main coping mechanism for a difficult time at school, guiding me through some of my darkest moments. I stopped writing for a few years during my A-level exams and when I went to university, but I never stopped noting down random quotes and backstory ideas and plot twists. I eventually picked the story back up when I was 21 years old and my spark was instantly reignited. I knew I had to get it out into the world no matter how long it took. For saving me and giving me a purpose, I owed it to Alexis and his friends. “

Did you face any challenges while writing? If so, how did you overcome them?

"One of the biggest challenges to writing my book was the sheer amount of research I needed to do for it. The Light That Blinds Us is an epic, cinematic romantic fantasy that sees our main characters venturing from one side of the Earth to the other on their quest to safeguard their people against the threat of Mortem and the Shadowless.

Research was a huge part of this to ensure I encaptured the culture and detail of the different locations my characters went to. I watched countless drone videos of the floating mountains in the forests of China, and spent weeks researching the mythology surrounding the ancient site of Delphi, Greece. Even minor things, such as the temperature and length of time it takes to climb Mt Kilimanjaro was researched to ensure my story was authentic and accurate. “

Who are the main characters in your book, and what do you hope readers will take away from their experiences?

"I wanted my main characters to represent the diversity of the world we live in. As they each possess power over one of the four main elements, I initially drew on the characteristics of the zodiac star signs to build their personalities. For example, Demi being as stubborn and down to earth, Blaise being bold and fiery. I also sought out sensitivity readers to ensure my characters from different ethnic backgrounds were being portrayed in an insightful, authentic, and inoffensive way.

Nothing is more important than doing your due diligence as an author to avoid perpetuating harmful stereotypes of communities we are not a part of. I believe there is a lesson to be learned from each of the characters, and I have loved watching readers fall in love with them. “

What sets your book apart from others in its genre? Are there any specific themes or messages you aimed to convey through your writing?

"The Light That Blinds Us is a deeply personal story rooted in clinical psychology. It pulls on some of the most loved tropes in fantasy, such as the found-family trope, slow-burn romance, and the hero’s journey, all the while telling something new that I’ve never seen before. Its focus on psychology, particularly psychosis, is integral to the story and to the main character’s journey, as are some other key psychological debates.

These include nature vs nurture, free vs determinism, and whether we can ever truly shed our past and become someone new. The dynamics of the main characters, their backstories, and how they navigate through a fantasy narrative that is interwoven with psychological undertones is what sets TLTBU apart from others on the shelves. “

What was the most rewarding part of the writing process for you?

"The first time I saw my final, finished printed book was such a huge pinch-me moment. Until that point, I had been in a bit of disbelief, even as I was announcing my publishing journey and was weighing in on the cover design. I still felt like it wasn’t real and that it was just a story in my head that I wrote on my laptop in my room.

To hold it, and then to see it in the bookstores I had spent many years wandering about it was such a full-circle moment that I’ll never forget. When it became an instant bestseller, that was when I knew all of those years of hard work had finally paid off. “

How do you think your own background or experiences influenced the story?

"My main character, Alexis Michaels, has a history of psychosis. This was inspired by my own family history, but also by my time working as a clinical psychology assistant where I worked closely with patients with schizophrenia, personality disorders, and bipolar disorder. This provided me with the greatest insight to help develop my story and write Alexis in a nuanced and powerful way, closely reflecting the real experiences of real people.

Working as a psychology specialist teacher also helped me to learn from my target audience of young adults about their mannerisms, interests, hobbies, and how they interact with one another. It also taught me pedagogy and the best – and worst – teaching practices to implement for my characters’ Elemental training sequences! I couldn’t have written this story and done its themes justice without both of these jobs. “

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors who are working on their first book?

"The best advice I can give to anyone who is looking to become a writer, is to first be a reader. Consume yourself in your genre and beyond to see what good storytelling is. From this, let your own voice develop and write as often and as much as possible. I managed to write and publish a book whilst doing two full time jobs by strict time-management, many sleepless nights (which I don’t advise!), and by writing sections on my phone whenever an idea came to me.

Creating music playlists to channel your focus and get you into the right headspace of your characters and story is also something small that has a massive impact. Lastly, don’t compare your first step to someone’s 100th. You’ve gotta climb the mountain to see the view. Writing takes time, but it is so worth it.”

What are your plans for future writing projects?

"The Light That Blinds Us is the first book of my planned ‘Descent into Darkness’ quartet, that initially started out as a trilogy before I realised book one was way too big and needed to be split into two. Book two is completely written, book three has been heavily drafted, and book four is planned in detail.

 Each book follows on directly from the previous book, centring around the Children of the Elements and their fight against Mortem. Four characters, four elements, four seasons… only made sense to have four books. “

Published by Simon & Schuster, ‘The Light That Blinds Us’ is now available on the shelves of Waterstones! We extend our sincerest congratulations to Andy Darcy Theo for this remarkable achievement. Furthermore, we applaud Alex Forrest for their exceptional contribution to the visual tapestry of the novel. Their artistic talent has truly enhanced the reading experience, bringing Andy’s captivating characters to life in vivid detail. We eagerly anticipate the continued success of this extraordinary book!

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