An Interview With S.D. McPhail – Part 1

Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key
Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key

Last October, by a stroke of good fortune and timing, I was offered a chance to review one of the most unique novels I’ve encountered in a long time. After a few months of discussions, my friend S.D. McPhail agreed to allow me to publish it. Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is, without a doubt, one of a kind. I’m also pleased to say that it’s not just unique – it’s also actually good. The book is available for pre-order now, and will be available for purchase this Saturday. I highly recommend buying a copy and reading it. But if you can’t wait until Friday (and let’s face it, you really are that excited about this book!) I’ve got a three part interview with Ms. McPhail.

As with my typical interviews, one part will post each day through the end of the week. Today’s Part 1 focuses on the book itself. Tomorrow’s Part 2 focuses on Ms. McPhail’s experiences with writing and publishing. Finally, Friday’s Part 3 will focus on Ms. McPhail herself. As always, these interviews are presented unedited.



Congratulations on the pending release of your first novel!

Thank you so much! It’s quite a surreal feeling.


Where did the inspiration for Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key come from?

It’s probably the culmination of a lifetime of reading science fiction and fantasy. I tend to prefer adventure stories with a hero who keeps getting back up after being knocked down and who, perhaps reluctantly at first, has the guts to do the right thing even when it’s much easier to simply walk away.

But I’m guessing you’re looking for a more specific answer than that, so here goes. I’ve always loved studying ancient cultures. In fact, my first year as an undergrad was spent majoring in archaeology/anthropology. I am fascinated by how television’s Ancient Aliens can take the most ridiculous theory and make a case for how extraterrestrials were involved in human history, with no way to prove it. I’m also a fan of classic movies, including silent features from Hollywood’s earliest golden era such as 1924’s The Thief of Bagdad starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Combine all of that and add in the premise of another classic movie, 1937’s Lost Horizon about an ancient peaceful society hidden somewhere in the Himalaya Mountains, and call me inspired.


Which works and authors would you say influenced the book?

That’s hard to narrow down. I’m a big fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars, not to mention movies like Indiana Jones, Independence Day, Galaxy Quest, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Dan Brown’s books featuring the intellectual hero Robert Langdon are definitely in the mix. Someone told me The Origin Key could be described as “Aladdin meets Mission Impossible.” I can’t really argue with that.


What was your favorite moment of the book to write?

I had it on good authority that you know you are truly a writer when your fictional characters talk to you during the writing process, and perhaps even at random moments throughout the day when you aren’t writing. I experienced an argument with one of my main characters who refused to say the bit of dialog I was typing for him. I tried to convince him that he needed to say it exactly as I had written it, but he was adamant. He won the argument and I changed the dialog. When I realized what had happened, I was elated because I finally felt I was a real writer!


What was the hardest part of the book for you to write?

I could answer with “the middle” since it was a bit of a challenge to weave together a lot mystery and intrigue to keep the reader guessing about the final outcome. But what may have been more difficult was writing the fight scenes. Everything that was perfectly choreographed in my mind was not so easy to describe clearly and succinctly.


How many more books do you plan for the series?

Right now, I plan to keep writing about Dodrazeb and Rasteem as long as I can invent new adventures for him. I also want to feature some of the other characters, such as Laneffri or Kamran or even Vestanji as the main character in their own novel-length story. So the answer is “a bunch.”


Can you give us a hint of what we should expect in the next book(s)?

There will be more revelations about the complex history of Dodrazeb and perhaps what exactly it is the scholars continue to search for. My short story A Ruby for Dyree is sort of a Dodrazebbian fairy tale that Rasteem discovers may contain more fact than legend. It features a ruby that isn’t simply a ruby. Oh, and more than one white tiger.


Do you have plans for any more novels outside of Treasures of Dodrazeb?

As a matter of fact, I do. An idea for a cozy mystery series set in a small town in Mississippi populated by eccentric characters with crazy secrets is on my radar.


Can you tell us when we should expect your next novel?

I wish I could say very soon, but it might be next year. I’m working hard at writing the next Dodrazeb adventure as fast as I can, but I don’t want to sacrifice quality for speed. I want it to be as entertaining as possible, and that takes time.



That’s it for part 1. Tune in tomorrow for a bit more about how Ms. McPhail approaches the writing and publishing process!


  • An Interview with S.D. McPhail – Part 1
  • An Interview with S.D. McPhail – Part 2
  • An Interview with S.D. McPhail – Part 3

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