As a freshman in High School, I can’t deny the influence that japanimation had on me at such a youthful age. I fell in love with their movies (as opposed to their animated TV shows), which really introduced me to what “EPIC” is all about. Their Epic action sequences, their Epic-sized monsters, their Epic story lines – all opened my imagination toward thinking BIGGER. I’ll list my favorites here: Akira, Ninja Scroll, Princess Mononoke, Gundam Wing, Vampire Hunter D, and Ghost in a Shell.
However, most of my time spent in High School was spent playing Warhammer. Now as a sophomore, my obsession with Warhammer (and my Dwarven army) led me to meeting a freshman named Skyler. After a few of our Warhammer battles, he introduced me (and our entire Warhammer crew) to Dungeons & Dragons (3rd edition). Skyler was the Dungeon Master (DM) and ran a campaign in the Greyhawk world. The imagination and unlimited possibilities that were involved made this game the best RPG game ever made. No video game will ever be able to reproduce the experiences that occur within Dungeons & Dragons. For all of those reasons, D&D immediately became our new favorite past time. We played every possible weekend that we could all meet. Almost as an extension from my Dwarven Warhammer army, I chose my character to be a Dwarf Cleric. We played for a long while, my dwarf was level 12 (out of 20), and we were stoked with the story line and the development of our characters until disaster struck. Skyler could no longer join us in our D&D sessions.
What did we do? Our D&D crew nominated me to be the next DM. We started over. They all made new characters while I began crafting a story line for them to play through set in the world of Forgotten Realms. This marks the beginning of my experiences as a fantasy story writer. However cheesy or unprofessional you may think this experience is in relation to fiction writing, I will argue against you until the end of time. There is no better medium to try implementing a story line and have real characters with individual personalities and motivations play through it and reveal to you your weaknesses in your plot line. Characters uncover “holes” in the story all the time; in fact, this occurs so often that the DM’s desired outcome will probably not occur because the characters find other creative solutions to complete the mission that the DM did not think of. As a DM, being able to tighten your story and create “hooks” to make the characters interested/motivated to go on a quest is a vital skill to have as a fiction writer. It directly correlates to the skill of capturing the reader’s interest and developing the opening for your novel. In addition, it helped craft my world building skills as well. My world of Thornwall that I crafted for my series of books uses nothing from the fantasy elements of D&D. It is all 100% of original design, though D&D helped me understand what is needed to make a world believable.
I did not know at the time that being a Dungeon Master for D&D would prepare me and my imagination for writing a novel, but when I had first decided to write a novel (which I will tell that story soon enough), I had initially wanted to write a fantasy story set in one of the D&D worlds. I immediately realized that there would be licensing/copyright issues and I had decided against it. I knew I had to write something of my own design, of my own conjuration, from the depths of my imagination in order to pursue a new fresh fantasy novel.
But before I launch my journey into writing a novel, I went to college. College is the place where my reading plummeted, but I kept my imagination engaged through RPG video games. I spent a lot of time playing Guild Wars, Suikoden 3 & 4, and numerous other games. It was only after graduating college with an undergrad degree, becoming a working professional, trying to launch numerous side businesses, and having my first child that I realized I want to write a fantasy novel. . .
(Stay tuned as I describe my writing journey, my agent querying, my online marketing experiences and so forth….)