JOHN W. WELLS III has been telling stories for a very long time, and he’s ready to unveil his debut novel. The SCAD graduate and author is preparing to release The Last Angel Warrior, a story all about identity—a theme that so many, especially young people, can relate to.
While he’s new to the world of writing and publishing novels, Wells—a theater performance major—is no stranger to storytelling and the art of stories. We learned about all of that and more when we caught up with Wells ahead of the book’s release.
Tell me a bit about The Last Angel Warrior?
The Last Angel Warrior is about a kid who discovers that a secret society wants to sacrifice him to a goddess on his sixteenth birthday. It’s a story about identity. Not fitting in. And finding the place where we belong.
I’m curious about your writing process for this project. How long did it take you, and what was the process of breaking the story, specifically?
The story has been in my head for many years but I did not finish my first draft until the summer of 2018. From that time until now, I have been avidly learning how to write a book! By working with editors, beta readers, and critique partners I have gradually refined my skills, and by proxy, the book.
As it relates to the process of writing the story. Each draft was drastically different from the previous one. I built a unique relationship with my beta readers who gave me honest feedback, which prompted me to learn and evolve as a writer. In many ways, the process of writing this book was a class in and of itself.
Tell me about your background as a writer?
While I am a novice writer, I have been a storyteller my entire life. With a degree in Theatre Performance, I have had the privilege of acting professionally; directing and producing staged plays; and even writing and producing an original musical which sold out during its one week run.
I have always been a storyteller for as long as I could remember. So it only made sense for me to take my overactive imagination and channel it onto the page.
As a SCAD grad, do you feel that Savannah made an impression on you and your work?
Being in Savannah made a HUGE impression on me and the book. It is the main reason the story takes place in a fictional town in Georgia.
The Historic district in Savannah is truly remarkable, and there were many nights that I would sit in the square or the library just taking notes about the story that would later evolve into the Last Angel Warrior.
Who are some of your heroes/inspirations as a writer, particularly in the debut novel?
When I was in the third grade I picked up a book called, Animorphs by K.A. Applegate from a book fair at school. It was this book that caused me to fall in love with reading. It was also the book that exposed my overactive imagination.
I told all the kids in the third grade that I was an animorph. I really believed it too. For many years after that, I couldn’t put down the series. I must have read twenty Animorph books before realizing other books even existed.
In high school, I read The Lord of The Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. His books introduced me to the realm of fantasy.
I was completely wrapped up into his world, and the different species and languages that he created. It is because of him that I fell in love with fantasy.
And then later I discovered Rick Riordan and the Percy Jackson series. Rick’s style was witty and personal.
It wasn’t a far cry from my favorite comic book superheroes. The fast comebacks of the flash and the witty wordplay of the webslinger, spiderman.
I fell in love with Rick Riordan’s witty style of writing, and his characters, so it was only natural for me to be influenced by this stylistic writing trait, and adopt some of those qualities for myself.
Is there a moment in the story you feel particularly connected to or proud of?
One of the aspects of the book I am most proud of is the special bond between my main character, Kalib, and his best friend, Triston. These two have known each other their whole lives and their friendship was easier than breathing. There is a moment in the book where Triston affirms his loyalty to Kalib, and I feel it perfectly defines the relationship of these two friends. You don’t always get to choose your family, but sometimes the family you do choose are more loyal than the family you inherited.