Thursday, March 8, 2012

My trek through the jungles of writing Fantasy novels

Artwork by the briliant Ken Kelly
Back when I was a kid (this was before the invention of dirt) I fell in love with two authors, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard.  Perhaps you know them as well.  Burroughs was the creator of the Tarzan series, along with several of series of high-adventure/sci-fi---all which I loved.  But he also created another famous series with his publication of A Princess of Mars.  The Barsoom series.  In this series we met the Earthman, John Carter of Virginia and the incomparable Barsoomian princess from the city of Helium, Deja Thoris.

Oh, my gosh!  As a pimply-faced kid of twelve or thirteen when I first bumped into these books, I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  I ate'em up.  Reread them over and over.  My imagination went into overdrive. 

At thirteen I knew I wanted to write stories like these.  Expand upon them.  Tweek them.  Make them as compelling as the originals and maybe . . . just maybe . . . make them more intriguing and dark in nature.

Robert E. Howard was the creator of Conan the Barbarian.  But not just Conan.  Howard went on to create a number of fascinating fantasy/horror character that, just like Burroughs, could capture a kid's imagination completely.  And for me Howard'd writing only solidified my desires to become a writer.

Years pass by.  In late teens/early twenties I come onto an idea to mimic the writing style of ERB and write a book entitled Banners of the Sa'yen (see book offerings in column to the right).  A complex (not original, mind you; just complex) about an alien falling onto a planet in an escape module and finding himself being confused as a god.  The alien is named Alexander Synn.  The a certain group of natives on the planet thinks he is The Sa'yen.  Their God of War.

Lo and Behold!  DAW Science-Fiction publishes the novel in 1981.  It sells reasonably well (I actually made royalties off the damn thing!)  It was supposed to be a 10 volume series.  Nope!  I was was wrong.  DAW wasn't THAT interested in the book/series.  Book two never saw the light of day.

Admittedly Banners of the Sa'yen is not my best effort, writing wise.  But remember, I wanted to mimic ERB's writing style.  I think I came very close to accomplishing that.  But in doing so I also realized I wanted to come up with a style of my own.

Artwork by Jesus and Javier Carmona
Years later comes another idea that really seemed to work.  The idea led to the creation of my current novel, Roland of the High Crags (see the column of offerings to the right).  In Roland we have a human warrior-monk-wizard who, for reasons only known to him, goes off and assists a dragon lord whose kingdom is being assaulted by another dragon lord.  It is a lost cause from the very beginning.  But before the smaller kingdom is destroyed the dying dragon lord asks Roland to save his only surviving heir--a seven year old grand daughter.

But the child is more than just a child of dragon nobility.  She is a living, breathing weapon of destruction literately created by the dark dragon gods designed to destroy all of humanity.  Why the human Roland agrees to protect and raise this child is the main ingredient for the entire series.  Basically, Roland asks himself can a human or dragon defy the gods?  Are Fate and Destiny immutable?

Again, it's a complex series.  Not just traditional fantasy.  But darker.  With characters who are far more than what they, at first, portray themselves to be.  Enemies turn out to be friends and allies.  Allies and kinsmen turn out to be bitter foes.  Treachery and deceit run rampant.

Just the kind of stuff that makes for a great read!

None of the major publishing houses were interested in Roland.  So I self-published--then found a small ebook firm wanted it for a while--then had to turn around and basically self-publish again through Amazon's Kindle program.

Books one and two of the Roland series are complete.  You can purchase book one. Book three is in a holding pattern right now but I plan to get back to it soon.  How many books are in the series?  Honestly, I don't know yet.  I can see at least five.  But why put a limit on my imagination?  If---and wouldn't this be fracken strange---the series actually became popular and people clamored for them,  I could stretch the series out further.  How much further has yet to be determined.

Hell, one can dream can't they?  Isn't that what a writer is supposed to do?

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