The story behind ‘Eladria’ — and my journey as a writer

I began writing Eladria in August 2009, and the final draft was completed and handed over to the publisher in August 2012. But although this book took three years to complete, it’s origins stretch far back. It’s part of a larger story that’s been with me most my life.

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, or at least a storyteller of some kind. I remember sitting in my room as a child of probably only 6 or 7, a pad of paper and felt tip pens in hand as I conjured whole new worlds from my imagination. I knew I had a story I wanted to tell. I wanted to be able to share the magic of my inner world with others. I think I originally wanted to call my story ‘The Lost World’. But I recall my dad telling me there was already a book by that title. Beaten to it — by Arthur Conan Doyle no less!

I grew up and got on with school and watching cartoons and drawing comics, something I particularly enjoyed. It wasn’t until I was about 16 years old that I finally got back to the story I wanted to tell. It started from a fairly broad premise: a group of people that had lost their home and banded together in search of a mythical paradise. For a number of years it was called ‘The Journey’. It was a fantasy adventure, but also something more. It was a story about life; a metaphor for our journey through life, dealing with immense odds and searching for something better, striving to become something better.

It took a number of years to write my first novel. In that time, the title changed to The Key of Alanar. I poured my heart and soul into it and learned a heck of a lot about writing, structuring stories, creating characters and dealing with arcs, narratives and themes. After several false starts, I finally started the novel properly in 2001 and completed it in 2007 (although it underwent several subsequent revisions). It was a more or less self-contained novel, yet designed as the first in a series of books.

I was immensely proud of it and I still am, but despite my best efforts, I didn’t manage to find a publisher. This was in the days just prior to the explosion in self-publishing and ebooks. I was actually rather heartbroken that I’d put so much of my time, effort and love into something that is still just sitting on my bookshelf. But something compelled me not to give up. I decided to have a second shot, a second attempt at getting a foot in the door of the publishing world.

I knew I wanted to write another novel, but I wasn’t entirely sure what or how. I had a vague idea that it would be set in the same universe as The Key of Alanar and would serve as a kind of parallel story, a book that, if published first, would lead into my first.

The funny thing about this second book was how effortlessly it came to me. I was sitting outside on a hot Summer’s day and suddenly a flood of ideas began rushing into my mind. I simply sat and jotted it all down. It was as though I was watching a film unfolding in my mind; a fully-formed story with a beginning, middle and end, along with a set of characters and an entirely new world, different to the one I’d created in my first novel. Eladria was born in the space of an hour or two. Some of the details were later refined or changed, but the blueprint was more or less all there. It was an extraordinarily effortless act of creation.

The act of writing it, of course, took a little more effort! I started straight away and set myself the goal of writing three pages a day. I more or less managed to stick with that, and as the weeks and months passed, the novel began to take shape. I didn’t initially know how it would tie in with my first novel, until I later realised it was essentially a prelude. It was a self-contained story featuring a different world and characters, but which would be tied together in the third book. Eladria and The Key of Alanar are like two points which, with the third book, will be joined to create a triangle. One of the things I tried to do with Eladria was to create as immediate a start as I could; a means of instantly hooking the reader and drawing them into the story. I hoped that would make it easier to get this novel published. Once published, I would then be able to release The Key of Alanar, which was still quietly biding its time.

So Eladria has an interesting history. If The Key of Alanar had been published as I’d originally hoped, I wouldn’t have written Eladria and the overall storyline of the series (which is entitled The Alanar Ascendant) would have been quite different. In a way, it’s a novel that was born out of failure, but in retrospect I’m glad it happened as it did. I’m very proud of Eladria. I think it works as a solid fantasy/science-fiction novel with a vivid protagonist whom I immediately fell in love with and had a wonderful time writing. I also imbued the story with a certain depth that stems from my true consuming passion in life: exploring the nature of consciousness, identity, life and reality. The book can be read on a number of levels: as a fast-paced action adventure filled with twists and turns, or as a philosophical work, touching upon themes of purpose, destiny, loss and love and the nature of reality. Different people will take different things from this book, and that’s one of the things I like most about it, and hope others will too.

I’m delighted to know that Eladria is now in the process of being published and I’m really excited to be able to share it with the world. It’s always challenging for a new author to find a way to stand above the crowd in an over-saturated market, but I’m hoping I’ll find an audience for my stories.

Once Eladria is published, I’m going to get back to The Key of Alanar and ready that for publication. As it’s already completed (bar some final rewriting), there shouldn’t be too long a wait between the two books. And if enough people are interested in my work and are eager to read more, I will set about writing my third book. At present there are five books planned in the Alanar Ascendant series.

I really look forward to sharing the journey with you.

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