Hello friends. I want to dedicate this multi-part series of blogs to tell you about this roller coaster of a journey that I’m on as I try to get my book published. However, I was having trouble deciding where to start. Since I want to capture my influences and motivations for making the publishing choices and writing style that I have embraced, I thought it best that the beginning would be a good place to start… the very beginning. All the way down nostalgia lane, back at elementary school.
I went to San Antonio Elementary School in Ojai, CA (population 8,000). This school had the 2nd and 3rd grade class together in one classroom, both taught by one teacher simultaneously. The principal of the school was also the 6th grade teacher. At the age of 7, I owned an original Nintendo Entertainment System. Despite my vast assortment of games, it was Dragon Warrior that was my favorite. After all of these years, and all of the video games I have sold back to stores, I still own this game. It was a single player fantasy Role Playing Game (RPG) where you, a single fighter, had to increase your fighting ability until you were strong enough to obtain Erdrick’s Armor. Only with that armor could you save the entire kingdom of Alefgard by defeating the Dragonlord and rescuing the princess. Dragon Warrior was definitely a pioneer of RPGs and most certainly had a lasting influence on video game developers of that genre, as well as a huge influence on me. It was at this school that I had my first creative writing assignment in 4th grade.
I wrote a fantasy adventure about a hero that had to rescue the princess from a big bad monster, complete with artwork. Sound familiar? I was very proud of my completed work; I remember smiling boastfully at some of my descriptions (particularly how the princess left lipstick marks on her cup). Once the class had finished the assignment, our teacher announced which books were the best. I was eager to hear my name get called, but it never did. I was heartbroken and dumbfounded. I confronted my teacher and asked her why my book didn’t make the list. She didn’t have a real answer for me, but later when my friend Rhett Walker read his story aloud to class – I knew. “Hungry eyes watched as he walked through the forest.” How could I compete with that? I was discouraged at a very young age from writing, but that didn’t stop my reading.
I was in love with Goosebumps, horror stories targeted toward young kids, written by R. L. Stine. I collected them and read them all. And to this day, I am still convinced that I own some sort of rare printed version of #19 Deep Trouble; it had a different type of paper that was smooth that no other copy of that book had. In 5th grade, I won a reading competition at my school and I got to have lunch with the principal as a reward for reading more pages in a month than any other student during the competition. R. L. Stine’s novellas were riddled with fantastical elements, though the horror theme was present in all of them. These were my first and only introduction into the horror genre, and perhaps they would have eventually led me toward other greats like Stephen King or H. P. Lovecraft, but my love for these books was abruptly severed.
San Antonio Elementary School, in an effort to coax the students to broaden their reading horizons, banned Goosebumps. If we were given a reading assignment, and we chose to read Goosebumps, our book report would not be accepted. This tactic by the school backfired, of course. Instead of broadening our library, us kids stopped reading altogether. The very thing that got us excited about reading had been taken away.
But, as a class, we read The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien. Dragons, hobbits, orcs, eagles, and a magic ring that made him invisible was probably imagination overload for a sixth grader. This is probably the single event that geared my preference toward fantasy adventures, especially when we were rewarded with watching the cartoon movie in class after finishing the novel. I was wide-eyed with amazement as I watched three armies battle it out in a grand war at the end. That did it. I had fallen in love with the fantasy genre.
Please stay tuned as I continue my journey into my next attempt at publishing, plus my love of comic books and Voltron revealed.