What is the point of having your own website if you can not use it for shameless advertising? So I am going to use this opportunity to talk about my novels. Thankfully this article is more than that and tells the chronicles of a creative person, with little knowledge of marketing or English literature, who wanted to write novels.
I have always had a passion for writing ever since I was young. I used to write short stories and design games or film box covers when I was little. I eventually took to writing a few novels that I started and never finished. Throughout the years I must have had around five or six completely unfinished stories that, now looking back at them, require entire rewrites.
A few years ago I did a home university course (whilst maintaining a full-time job, if anyone is interested in hiring me haha) in computer game design. Through that I learned about game mechanics and writing the plot, designing characters and settings, as well as how to write good plot twists to keep your players guessing.
Unfortunately it is a cut-throat industry. If a game does not sell well then an entire development team is liquidated. I have a young family and needed a bit of security, besides I was offered a trial period as a helper at a game design company, but it was less money than I was on, and I couldn’t justify the pay cut as I needed to provide. It is a pit we have all fallen into at some point or another, and so my dream of being a Game Designer died that day.
Thankfully the course did not go to waste. I have utilised what I heard learned in my work moving forward.
Now when my partner announced that she was pregnant, and with a girl (which we had already decided we were going to call her Freya), I took that as inspiration to write. My, at the time, unborn daughter became my muse. I wanted to write a story that I could read to her or, when she got a little older, could read to herself.
I have always been a huge fan of fantasy (games, films and role playing table top games, funnily enough not books as I am not much of a reader myself). I love the rich stories and deep lore that fantasy has to offer. The backstories that serve nothing more than to bulk up the world around them. Think of Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, or Dungeons & Dragons, and the amazing side stories or ancient history that are there to give the main story depth. Half the time something is only mentioned once to help a moment out, but if you were to read into it, you would learn so much rich history about the world the game/film/book/etc is set in.
That was what I wanted to create, and thus the Freya Fables were book.
The original story was rather simple. As it was designed for the Harry Potter kind of age group (although occasionally it would fall a little into the dark and bleak world that I would probably be better suited at writing), I wanted to have the classic and cliché fantasy story of an unknown hero going on this amazing quest to save the world and defeat a great evil, however, as I started to write the first book in the series, I realised that there could be so many stories that I could and the entire world of the Freya Fables could grow. The idea spread through my brain like a virus and not long after, I have the outline for a trilogy. I used the names of other members of my family (making them more fantasy style to better suit them) for my daughter’s benefit, as well as making some characters’ never have names so that the reader could portray them however they wanted to.
The first in the series; The Prince in the Shadows, follows my original plan of having a young girl (called Freya), who grew up on the slums of a great kingdom, being thrown into this quest to defeat an ancient shadow lord from another realm in a far away bleak wasteland, who employs shadow monsters and Hobgoblins to do his bidding. She is joined by two companions; a Gnome and a Goblin, as she embarks on the quest across many different locations and facing many different challenges along the way.
I won’t go too much into the storyline in case you read it, but it is written in a way that lays hints for the other titles. As I said I had the outline for the other books in place, so I could easily throw in something that would come back in a later book. I also wanted each book to be its own separate entity, so you would not need to have read the previous book to enjoy it, or if you did not want to read the next book, then the story at the end of each book has its own closure.
The next one in the series; The Golden Legion, is my own personal favourite. This storyline I found great fun to write and it was here that I really started to develop the lore of the world the series is set in. I was able to reuse aspects from the first one in different ways and sop certain characters would make a return but in a different role given that a few months had passed between this book and the last one.
The story follows Freya on a quest to stop a civil war between two Gnome cities, following an assassination that sparked it (again, the darker side of me slips out from time to time in my work) and eventually it leads onto a plot relating to a legend of an indestructible army of gold and the great Dragon that watches over them.
This story allowed me to reveal a big twist I hinted at in the first book’s epilogue, which I was very pleased with. It not only gave this book a great impact, but also allowed me to set up the final story.
The book that follows the Golden Legion is a little bit of a strange one. I had decided that I was going to write a shorter story this time around and have it set between books two and three (kind of a 2.5 story), but shifting the focus away from Freya (who now serves in a third person kind of perspective) and to an entirely new character called Henry (who is my nephew). I wanted to recreate the first book but in a unique story that was, at the same time, different from the rest. I did this for Henry so that he would have a book to read about himself when he got older (although since then Henry has had a sister born called Elizabeth, and so maybe a new Freya Fable might be in the works.
To make this one different, I mixed up the title from “The Freya Fables: <book title>” to “The Valour of Sir Henry – A Freya Fable” to make it feel as if it is a separate story set in the Freya Fable universe. It was an interesting idea and one that I hope to return to some day by writing more Freya Fable short stories.
This story follows a young Gnome who travels to a far away kingdom to compete in a grand tournament of various different challenges. As it is set after the second book, we learn of the aftermath caused, as well as the prologue, and the last third of the book, setting up the final Freya Fables story.
Along the way Henry meets all of the characters from the other stories, but this time it is done differently as none of them know him, so we get to witness these characters that readers (hopefully) enjoy, but from a completely different perspective, allowing me to write how the audience perceives them in a slightly different way.
This book (or Novella due to the word count) is its own individual storyline that can be read completely separate from the rest of the series, or as part of it.
The final story (the official book three); The Freya Fables – The Age of Darkness, allowed me to bring everything together in one epic finale. I mixed up the formula this time around and have the great evils of the world coming to Freya. The real purpose of the Valour of Sir Henry is purely to set up this book. This was a great story that I managed to throw in everything from every other Freya Fable that came before it, as well as adding in a couple of new things. Everything comes together in an enormous battle that spans, pretty much, the entirety of the novel. The ending itself is great and cleans up the entire series. Although if I wanted to, I could easily write more stories set in the same universe (I did already have one idea for an accounts detailing the history behind the primary antagonist, but I would need to re-read the entire series to help me remember the lore. I don’t want any inconsistency).
A year or so after the final Freya Fable, I started to get the buzz to write again. At that point I had had enough of writing for kids and teenagers, and I wanted to write something a bit more… Danny. Something bleak and foreboding, horrific, gory, and violent… with zombies.
I started by writing a simple zombie storyline (set in a normal setting) that was character focused on the average man in extreme situations (which is always the thing that has attracted me to the genre), but then after the prologue/first chapter, I realised that I had not actually labelled them as zombies, and so I was free to create whatever I wanted. I kept the same idea alive, so a group of survivors hiding out in an abandoned farmhouse, but then, rather than zombies, I designed an entirely new horror that they would face. Being a huge fan of things like Silent Hill 2, Jacobs’ Ladder, and Donnie Darko, I decided to create a story of psychological horror, of which I cannot go into without spoiling it, but I really loved the idea of symbolism and things looking like something but representing something else entirely. That was the idea of Before Dusk. The story greatly evolves as it progresses and by the end of it, I think readers would be really satisfied.
I mainly wrote it because I wanted to do a single story and not tying myself into another series. Since this was set in the real world, it was a lot harder for me to write than the Freya Fables, as if I got stuck, I could create a bit of backstory and history to help me along the way (so long as it did not interfere with any other piece of canon history), where as this, I had to think in a more realistic way. It was not necessarily a bad thing, but I really do think that my forte is fantasy. Although having said that, Before Dusk is probably the best thing I have ever written. Another good thing about it was that I was able to do things completely different to how I had done my other novels (as I was not limited to keep it consistent with the other books in a series). For example, I was wrote the chapter headings as dates in a diary, rather than your normal numbers, to show how long the survivors had been living where they were, to give the reader an idea of the time that had passed.
I also broke the story down into three acts, and it is at those key points in time that I am able to greatly change where the story is heading. I really did have a lot of fun writing it, but given that it is also the biggest thing I have ever written, it was a huge commitment that I feel a little relieved that it is now over, which is one of the main contributing factors to me not writing at the moment.
When I finally did finish writing the first book, I looked into getting it published. I sent off loads of manuscripts to publishers and agencies, but nobody wanted it. I had already had some amazing feedback from everyone who had read it, but no one wanted to make it into an official published title.
I was working at the time for Pearson Education, when they were linked with Penguin Books, and they wanted £300 to just look at the manuscript, and even then they could still turn around and say “no… it’s shit” and not publish it.
It was then I decided to take matters into my own hands. I discovered that through a company called CreateSpace, who were linked with Amazon, I was able to self-publish my books and have them available in both eBook and trade paperback for next to nothing (it cost me £5 to get a proof copy of the first one, and from that I was able to work out the formatting needed for the others). All that was required was for me to format it, as I said before, and create the cover. I had to do absolutely everything, but they would make it available to print on demand.
There was nothing better than when I had them all lined up on the bookshelf with my name on them.
Of course they needed proper marketing and soon after the initial family and friend sales had dropped, the books faded away onto the vast ocean of Amazon. Occasionally I still get notifications that someone has bought one (as well as a little money from the sale), but I think as I wrote them for my daughter, as well as for me, that I do not overly mind. Of course if I could become a famous author and write all day, everyday in my own personal office or unit, then that would be the dream.
I hope to continue writing as and when I get the time. I am still, to this day, writing short synopsis for future story ideas, but then work, being a dad, gaming, designing Pathfinder quests, learning new table top game rules, and now writing articles for Bearded Robot, all seem to eat up my time.
Some story ideas keep evolving and so the changing the entire plot is required, often putting me off actually starting the stories.
I know that once I do settle on a story and actually begin writing it, I will give it my all and allow myself to fall into the story as I write it.
You can check out my novels on my Amazon Page:
Available in both eBook and trade paperback.
My Novel Facebook Page:
and on Goodreads:
Anyone who wants to write novels and get them as actual physical copies to hold and see their name written on the side, then they should definitely check out CreateSpace. Even if you do not think your writing is up to scratch, but like me, just have a great passion for it and hope to one day make a living off of it, then this is the place to help you. For the right money you can get them to market it for you as well, so you never know.
In the meantime, any future novels I will update on the above sites, as well as here on Bearded Robot. I hope to get writing again and in fact, writing this article has helped me get my thoughts into place and I can see myself starting a new project soon. I have been toying with multiple science-fiction stories and so it will most likely be somewhere in that genre, so watch this space.
Thank to all of those who have read any of my work, or who will read it after this. Hopefully you might come away from this article with a little inspiration as to how to push a dream of yours forward.