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In the summer of 2006, I picked up my proverbial pen to write a short story about a polar bear. To be completely accurate, I sat down in front of my old Apple computer and started typing. The story was projected to be (in my mind at least) about 26 pages long, with lots of colorful illustrations, about a china polar bear who comes to life (think Velveteen Rabbit).
It wasn’t many days before I realized I had a much longer, more involved story to share, one involving a myriad of characters, with heroes and villains, multiple subplots, something that could never be told in just one book. So, the fantasy tale grew apace, until the telling took seven volumes. That initial process took six years. I can recall the moment, in late 2012, when, after much travel and moves and then living in the seaside resort of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, I finished that initial draft. The story was complete as far as I was concerned.
But that was only the beginning, for I now had to go back and reread everything, to review what I’d produced. And what I discovered was that the process of writing is an education in itself. Of course, I’d written plenty over the duration of my long career in government: policy papers, advice to ministers, memoranda, etc. And I’d written many entertaining short stories for home consumption. But this was something different – a long, complicated fantasy requiring world creation, anthropomorphic characters who must remain true to their essence, delving into dream interpretation and prophecy, the use of power and manipulation, politics, honor, nobility and sacrifice. And it must possess drama, intrigue, excitement, plot twists, and a wholly satisfying ending.
And so, like an unburnished precious stone, what I’d first written in 2006 still required significant polishing. The rock-polishing process is really quite similar:
1. select the right rock;
2. wash it thoroughly;
3. shape it by chipping away at the imperfections;
4. rub with sandpaper to smooth out the bumps;
5. rub with higher grade sandpaper to remove scratches;
6. rub with even higher grade sandpaper to correct any remaining imperfections; and
7. shine and buff with leather and tube polish.
You get the idea. The initial product must be worthy of perfecting. Then one must put in the subsequent time and effort to finish things off. Yes, I’d gotten the ideas down and produced a story worthy of telling, but it was not yet ready for publication: several more steps were required. I now had to take my rough stone and add in what I’d learned over the six years about the craft, to complete the process.
So, here we are today. Publishing Eirwen and Fridis, the first book in The Ravenstones series came in June 2020. Now, 17 months later, the last one, Prophecy Revealed, is being published in ebook and print versions: in early November, once again on Amazon.
As always, the covers were designed and by my terrific Vancouver-based illustrator (and author in her own right), Kari Rust. Her ability to bring emotion, personality and style to what existed in my imagination is second to none. She has, in sum, brought my main characters to life, and I am forever indebted to her.
To provide readers with a taste of what can be expected, here is the back-cover encapsulation:
“Eirwen and Fridis have traveled a long and winding road. Now it comes down to this: the final confrontation. The stakes could not be higher – no coming second, no escape left, no reserves waiting in the wings. It’s win or die.
“Questions remain. What will happen when once-devoted brothers must face each other in battle? Who can prevail over the ancient allegiance of Vigmar’s loyal birds of prey? Will the fourth, most powerful Ravenstone ever be found? Will the prophecies come to pass? What will happen to our many villains and heroes? And who will play the key role as this history finally unfolds?”
I could say a whole lot more, but hey, why not just go ahead and buy the book? And if you feel so inclined, feel free to share this post on your social media platform of choice. Thanks so much.
Cover Photo by Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash