Welcome to Heartstone
Book 1: Dark Enchantress
This novel took a lot longer to write than I hoped it would. It’s not the length of it that was responsible, it was the fact that I’ve had to hold down a full time job in order to pay the bills. That necessitated less time for this. It was a matter of scraping together time on weekends and an hour here or there after work when I wasn’t too exhausted or stressed out. In the end, I finally quit my full time job to work part time instead, sacrificing income and security for a dream.
Will it pay off? Only if people have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. And the two sequels I was doing at the same time because all three were originally going to be one book. But someone said it was too long. 300,000+ words scares some people, especially in a Book 1. Fair enough. So, here you go, a trilogy, to start. Which is the fashion these days anyway, right?
I started the novel while taking a year off of teaching. I stayed with my mother, attempting to heal relationships with her and my brothers, and meeting my nieces and nephew, most of whom I’d never seen before while living overseas in Japan. That year was filled with its own struggles: a long distance girlfriend, the passing of old friendships, loneliness, a struggle to connect with the world. Some of my own issues will appear in this novel and in subsequent ones. Write what you know, they say. Hopefully the story still remains upbeat.
One of the biggest challenges to writing a novel turned out to be the vacuum in which creation happens. I can create a series of events in my head. I can create characters. But I have absolutely no idea if anyone else will like them. I have no idea if my writing can create an emotional response in a reader. They’re just black words on a white page to me. Without constant feedback, I have no idea if anything I’m working on will be enjoyed or move people. I sincerely hope something about the work catches fire in people’s imaginations, brings people a few laughs, and maybe helps them learn a thing or two.
Writing was a structured process; this was not entirely a stream of thought creation as some authors do. Well, to be fair, it was in the beginning. I tried writing the novel a chapter a week and publishing it online, much the way Charles Dickens published his work in newspapers. I didn’t plan anything other than having a silly fantasy adventure. But, I wasn’t getting any feedback online and I worried that the work wasn’t very good. I pulled it down and focused on trying to establish a framework with proper goals instead.
I’ve tried a little to use Joseph Campbell’s work on myths. I’ve been inspired by some of my favourite authors. (One of whom I will be paying tribute to in Book 2. Hope it goes well.) I looked up a thing or two about writing. I don’t know how successful I’ve been. I think this book is ok for my first effort, at least writing quality-wise, content is subjective. I could continue to edit forever but I think I just need to get it out there and move on to the next one so that my craft can improve with practice.
Some people will note that some characters go on tangents that seemingly have no place in the story’s plot. Characters are thoughtful. Some editors and authors will insist that everything in a book must have a reason to be there or it should be cut. Personally, I wanted something more fun and something that made people think.
I wanted a story readers could cruise through and enjoy like a scenic vacation. I also wanted to actually say meaningful things in the book, sharing ideas and values and opinions. I think some stories out there are nothing but tightly scripted action that’s an exciting rollercoaster, but ultimately empty. Good on those writers for being able to write something so enthralling, but I wanted to go a different route. In fact, I chose this crazy, pun-filled fantasy setting partly for that purpose. Hence things like the ‘ugly situation’.
Future of Heartstone
I have, thus far, 2 more novels to follow this one and more planned after. I don’t know how much of my plans will come to fruition, it depends on whether or not people like them. But I will say that love and relationships will continue to be a prevalent theme.
My life has never been easy and the past five years have been especially challenging in terms of a variety of relationships and society in general. Some of my criticism of people and society crept into this novel and provided some of the basis for events within. I hope to continue that in the future. Life affects art, which affects life, if done well. Not to say I’ve done it well, but here’s hoping.
Heartstone isn’t the only fictional universe I’m working on. I’m a HUGE fan of Halloween. I love it. I want it to last a month or six weeks like Christmas does. I can’t get enough. So I have two different story universes under construction based on that love.
The first is Monsters and the Danse Macabre. It features collaborative projects, despite the fact that the other author is long dead. But, frankly, isn’t that perfect for a Halloween-style novel? Carmilla and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow are both available. More coming.
Everyone and Mature Versions
One of the things you might have noticed is that this book comes in two versions. One is aimed at everyone; one is for mature readers. The difference? Primarily language and sexual content.
The Mature version is actually the original version of the book. That’s my working copy. But different people are comfortable with different things and I chose to also make a version that would appeal to a wider audience.
I could have produced just the Everyone version, but I thought it would be fun for adult fans to be able to enjoy a more natural and open story. Sex happens. That’s how we all got here. And some people like to read about it. Now they can. I think that’s a very progressive move for literature and society in general. A whole lot of other people think so too.
For those of you who read the Mature version, you’ll enjoy more content and more puns.