Edit: So, just so others are aware, I’m re-reading my book again and fixing errors. I seriously don’t know how I missed some of these typos, but I’ll be fixing them in the near future.
I’m a reader. I have been for ages, but I remember the first book that made a true impression on me. Mariel of Redwall, by Brian Jacques. I don’t even remember why a second grader like myself picked up such a huge book, it was likely on a bet, but I fell in love with the story. I hunted for all the books I could find in the series, and often came up short. But even so, I stuck to the children’s section of libraries until I was in the 6th grade.
I didn’t know, at the time, that there was a difference between the children and adult sections of science fiction. I’d read The Hobbit and all of Lord of the Rings in 2nd grade, since my family owned them. I admit I didn’t understand half the books, but I read them anyway. But in middle school I ran out of books in the children’s sections of the library of our school, and so I wandered over to a single set of shelves with worn paperbacks on them. These books were different to me, each in a style I’d never seen before. I don’t remember which book I picked up first, but what got me into science fiction for real was Sojourn, by R.A. Salvatore. I didn’t know it wasn’t the first book of the series, but I didn’t care. The world it described was huge and vibrant…and when I went to the local library, I found the other books in the adult’s sections of the library and devoured them.
I read so much that I neglected my classes. My teachers would yell at me because I was reading in class. I would get slammed into lockers because I was reading as I walked, but I got good at dodging. I read everything from masterpieces to utter tripe, not really understanding the difference until much later.
In 9th grade, just after I started high school, I got frustrated by the fact I couldn’t find novels that told the stories I wanted, so I decided to write my own. My attempt was The Legend of Alizon. It is tripe of the highest order, and I keep it around to cringe at. Not even my wife is allowed to read it, it’s that bad. But the following summer I found Dungeons & Dragons, and that changed my focus to Roleplaying Games rather than writing. Oh, I wrote, but for a decade I was focused on gaming instead. I have thousands of pages of half-completed stories and books, none of which came to fruition. But even that began to change about a year ago.
The first inspiration for Ancient Ruins is, of course, Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder, my preferred version of the game. Another inspiration is Anima: Beyond Fantasy, which helped me finally truly look beyond the chassis of D&D to find what it was that I wanted. But in the winter of 2015, I found the book called The Slime Dungeon by Jeffrey Logue. It is an imperfect book, but the ideas inside fascinated me, and I began to mull over the concepts, wondering how some of them could apply to my own work. Then came The Divine Dungeon by Dakota Krout. Another dungeon book, it gave me a different spin on ideas. But none of it was anything serious for me, and I set them aside for a potential Pathfinder game in the future.
In September, 2016, I decided I was going to participate in Nanowrimo 2016. I was going to write an alternate history novel where Earth always had magic of the sort that Anima and Pathfinder possessed, and set around the mid-1500s. I did research, started building character concepts, and planned extensively, intending to hit the ground running on November 1st.
October 20th, I got a faint idea in my head. It was the simple idea…what if a person was trapped in time from the ancient past, and awoke in a far future period? I shook it off, trying to focus on my crazy archmage in the Rocky Mountains. The 21st, the idea came back stronger, and I began to build the core concepts that became Sistina. I shook it off again, but it wouldn’t go away.
So on October 22nd, I decided I’d write down a chapter involving the ideas I’d had just to get them out of my head. I expected that it would be written down, and then I’d abandon it, like normal. But that didn’t happen.
By October 31st I had 35,000 words of what’s now Ancient Ruins, and I was just gaining steam. The story had taken a life all its own, and I couldn’t help but keep writing it. I uninstalled most of my computer games, and continued on. By November 22nd, it was 97,000 words, and I was finished. It was exhausting, exhilarating, and I already had the general plotline of the next two books figured out. I took a week off, and then came back to edit the book. I ended up having to re-write about 90+% of the first 6 chapters, and I ended up with right around 117,000 words. Friends read through it, catching many of the errors, which I fixed, and I obviously accidentally introduced new ones (email me errors and I’ll fix them, planning to upload an edited copy on February 16th). I got the artwork that became the cover as a Christmas present from my wife, and I have to thank Jackie Wei for his work that exceeded my expectations, and became the cover.
But now Ancient Ruins has been published for 13 days, and it already has 8 reviews. People like it, in spite of its flaws. And I find myself inspired still, and I’m going to keep writing, and make sure that Spells of Old and Halls of Power are as good of books as I can make them.
Thank you, readers. You’re now my inspiration.