Growing up, my environment at home and school was unpleasant to, say the least. When I first discovered fantasy books, beginning with the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings, they became an escape for me from my reality. I always wondered after finishing these series and others what would happen after the story ends. I was impressed that in well-written fantasy stories, the actions of characters had actual consequences. I noted that in the real world, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, rich western countries had the opportunity to make the world a better place, resolve inequities, and lead by example. Sadly, the exact opposite happened and the rich got richer at the expense of poor people and the environment. I thought about what would happen if the rich and powerful were confronted with the consequences of their actions. Alternate history did not appeal to me, so I set out to create my fantasy world which tells the story of what happens after the war against darkness is over, analogous to the aftermath of the Cold War. In The Fourth Age Shadow Wars, I was free to create a world completely my own, letting my imagination flow, while working on the themes of the politics of the 1990s and 2000s.
As a criminal defense lawyer, I was confronted with the reality of other people’s lives day in and day out, where they came to me to solve the mess that they had gotten themselves into. By the time I got home every night, I wanted nothing to do with my reality, so putting my ideas into a fantasy world was very appealing. At the time in 2005, I was recently divorced, living in the east mountains of Albuquerque, and besides karate class 3 times per week I had a lot of time on my hands. So one night, I started writing and in a few days, I had some pages, and then the first finished chapter. I sent this to my brother, another fantasy fan, and he was impressed with my rough draft and encouraged me to continue. I had very little self-confidence in creative writing as I had been told all through school, including university that my ideas were far-fetched, I had no sense of writing structure, and that my grammar was atrocious. So, I had to conquer a lot of self-doubts to even begin writing.
I had the luxury/curse of being self-employed and unless I had morning court, I could stay up the night before and write. I soon developed a comfortable routine, open a bottle of red wine, lit scented candles, and put on the headphones to listen to creative inspiring music, which in my case means progressive rock like Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Tangerine Dream. After finishing the book 2 years later, I began re-writing it again to make it flow properly. Once done, despite sending out dozens of query letters, the only publisher that would accept my book was a vanity press. I was determined to see if this would work and ordered 200 trade paperback copies. Despite my best efforts at trying to sell them myself, it did not work and I got down on myself for a while. I only received a couple of reviews and the readers pointed out that the book still seemed to be a work in progress, with too many plot holes and grammatical mistakes. I bit the proverbial bullet and hired an editor to review my work. He provided many examples of where and how I needed to fix my book, and after another 2 years of back and forth, and endless re-writes, the book was finished. There were many times when I thought about giving up, that even though I enjoyed my own story, it was just not going to appeal to the public. I persevered, but every query letter I sent out was rejected, but I was determined to keep trying. Eventually, a fellow author here in Australia introduced me to a new, small online publishing company that was looking for innovative original stories. Wow, I thought, maybe they might give me a chance. Thankfully they did, and not only were they impressed with my book to bring it out as an ebook, but also in paperback and hardcover format. Additionally, they invested money and time in creating professionally narrated audiobooks and had my story translated into French and Spanish, and soon to be Japanese. It took 12 years, but I was finally a published author, with many positive reviews of my work.
Ironically during this time, I finally thought about dating again and went on Eharmony to see how it would go. I met a brilliant woman from Vietnam with whom I had a lot in common, but she was wary of giving me her contact details in Vietnam as I might be a serial killer or some other weirdo as I was from the States. I sent her the original book, with all of its flaws, via email, which she read, and seeing that I was creative without being too crazy, she initiated contact and we were married 6 months later and remained happy with our 10-year-old daughter to this day.
I split the book into 3 separate novels, to make it easier to market. The first novel, Assassins, introduces the reader to my world, where a diabolical plot to kill the Crown Prince of Men, Alfrahil threatens the uneasy peace between the races. A thrilling investigation into the people and races of the land of Nostraterra ensues to root out the conspirators. Despite my editor’s insistence, I could not make an individual antagonist and protagonist; it just didn’t flow with my story. Instead, the book has several important characters, all flawed in some way, who believe that not only are their motivations self-interested, but they are acting in a way that they believe is best for their race and the world at large. Each race has a moderate faction that wants to get along with the other races but also has a radical smaller faction that distrusts the other races and wants to take as much of the world as they can from others.
Finally, one of my hopes in writing this series, and I continue to write the second series, is to inspire others to write their own story. I would urge you to look at the ideas in which you are interested, the genre is irrelevant, and just start writing to express your ideas and get them written down You just might surprise yourself that you are cable of writing something that expresses your talent and interests well, I know that I did.
★★★★★ – “Highly creative, engrossing and original.”
★★★★★ – “A wonderful introduction to what promises to be an enthralling saga of epic fantasy.”
★★★★★ – “Cleverly created characters and a believable storyline. A great read.