Ever since I was little I have loved fantasy. Tolkien. Stephen R. Donaldson. Terry Brooks. And later, Robert Jordan. A Wrinkle in Time. The Hobbit. Dragons, swords, elves, and anything magic. I loved them all. I played Dungeons and Dragons with all my geeky friends as soon as I heard of it. I solved every Ultima computer game that ever came out—even though the last few were often played with a son or daughter on my knee. I watched “The Never Ending Story” over and over, even though Falcor looked kind of like a giant Muppet. I was even nearly arrested for leading a large and somewhat rowdy group of high school friends through the neighborhood after midnight on a search for, “The Golden Banana”—for which I was grounded for most of my teenage life.
So it would seem natural that the first book I would write and publish would be fantasy. My youngest brother, Mark, certainly has pushed me to write a fantasy series. But somehow it wasn’t until last year that I finally saw the light. I think there are two reasons for my hesitance. The first is that I really wasn’t sure I could do it. Somehow, the thought of creating new worlds, and populating them with believable cultures, rules of nature and magic, histories, and everything that goes along with it seemed both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Much more intimidating than writing a thriller or mystery—which I also enjoy.
The second reason is a little harder to explain. You write a mystery and you are done. People read it. They solve it or they don’t. And hopefully they go away happy. The same with a thriller. But, for me at least, a fantasy is more than that. Especially a fantasy series. I want depth and meaning. I want to stand up to Lord Foul. I want to guess whether Snape is good or evil, with all the associated significance of each. I want to see worlds rotating around the Talisman. I want to struggle with giving up the ring. I want to get so lost in the new world that I feel slightly disoriented when I close the novel. There is nothing I love more than opening the first page of a fantasy novel that I know absolutely nothing about and exploring a new world. How can you take creating something like that lightly?
So I waited.
Then, a little over eighteen months ago, I spoke on the phone with a wonderfully goofball author by the name of James Dashner. He told me about a publisher he had signed with by the name of Shadow Mountain publishing, and all the success they’d had with two other fantasy series. Of course I had also the usual author emotions—excitement, jealousy, envy, murderous blood-curdling rage. But still, how could I have a problem with his success? I don’t write fantasy. Except . . . let me take you back about two years before that day.
As I mentioned earlier, my brother Mark has always wanted me to write a fantasy. He has been positive it would be great. Mostly to appease him, I came up with a story idea. The concept revolved around two children. A boy and a girl. Both of them are outcasts. The boy because he is badly disabled and requires a wheelchair to get around in. The girl because she lives in a world that eats, breathes, and sweats magic. And she can’t even use so much as a potion. But somehow these two rejects come together and find they have to save each other’s worlds.
Almost every time I talked to my brother, he would ask about the story. I actually even wrote a first chapter once where a wizard and a warrior are on their way to a small border village where a child is rumored to have been born with special significance. Only by the time they get there, the entire city is destroyed. But honestly I didn’t ever plan on doing any more with it. It was just one of those chapters that sits around until your hard drive finally crashes or you clean out your desk.
Until James planted the crazy idea into my head by telling me about this publisher. Somehow I couldn’t get the story of Marcus and Kyja out of my head. It got so bad that at about two in the morning, I finally climbed out of bed and opened up my laptop just to prove to myself that I couldn’t write the story—hoping that would exorcise the demon in my skull. Four hours and five thousand words later, I realized the demon wasn’t going anywhere but into paper.
So here I am about 105,000 words and eighteen months later with a contract, an advance, and even an artist that I’ll blog about tomorrow. I’m definitely excited. But I am also scared to death. I want Farworld to be something that crosses over from children to adults the way Harry Potter did. I want the characters to seem so real you feel like you knew them in another life. When you close the first book, I want you to immediately start searching for on the internet for any word of book two. But mostly I want a young reader to feel the same sense of wonderment I felt when I read my first fantasy. And hopefully they’ll find their own magic the way I found mine.