Hello Darlings, Please welcome RJ Terrell who describes himself "As a writer of fiction and fantasy and an aspiring actor I enjoy the outdoors and all the adventure it brings." His guest post paints a most interesting world he has created in the fantasy genre. Do take a look.
Hello Bri and thank you for having me on your blog!
I am primarily a writer of fantasy, but recently I have branched a bit to try my wings at different fiction. Currently I am awaiting the cover artwork for my third and final book Heroes Of A Broken Age, in the Legend of Takashaniel Trilogy. I wrote my first book, Echoes Of A Shattered Age, back in 2006, and it was a lengthy affair, taking a little over a year and a half to write. I had never written a book before, and though I greatly enjoyed the process, it was a rather tall order and took some time.
I had been reading for some years, and fantasy had always been my primary genre to enjoy, though I always have enjoyed different types of fiction. It was back around 2003, if memory serves, when the first spark entered my mind that I wanted to write. Several characters came to mind, and would not leave me alone. (before you readers call the mental hospital, every writer is constantly bombarded by various characters demanding to have their stories told. *wink*)
Once I had decided that I would indeed like to attempt to write the book, I knew from the start that there was one thing I wanted to do differently. Although things are slowly changing, the fantasy genre at large is primarily told from the Eurocentric perspective, with the occasional character type that is patterned after a different ethnicity here or there. I had seen for years that there was a need for something more diverse, and judging from the fans on the message boards of many bestselling fantasy authors, I was not the only one to notice this.
The one thing I was always taught as a child was to be the change, and if there is something I would like to see done, do it myself. I have nothing but love and admiration for the many fantasy authors out there, paving the way for writers like myself who are just beginning, and I realize and respect that the stories they tell are theirs, not mine. My expectations of the type of change I would like to see in fantasy are my own, and I celebrate that. I like to think that I approach fantasy in the same manner that the creator of Star Trek has approached that world. What I mean is, Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek as a rich and ethnically diverse world devoid of the racial issues we have today. This is how I approach fantasy. Although there are different ethnic groups, or representations of ethnic groups in my stories, the reader will enjoy this without the tiring (in my humble opinion) racial issues we deal with in our world.
The Legend of Takashaniel Trilogy is my first venture into such a world. It is based largely off of a future version of this world, after the death of the earth was mysteriously and inexplicably avoided. Technology suddenly began to die away until humanity was left to start over again in a world that had begun to rapidly evolve around them. Many believed it was the Gods who took technology away, but there were some few who knew the truth of it.
This trilogy follows the exploration of a group of human warriors who carry a God Gene that makes them stronger, faster, and in every way, superior warriors than any who had ever lived. But as always, there is a catch, and this Gene does have its limits.
In the first book, we walk alongside Kenyatta, an orphan from Jamaica who was adopted by a vacationing couple from the Philippines. The couple raised him alongside his best friend, Kita, and the two were raised as brothers, and trained side by side every day of their lives.
Akemi, a ninja demon hunter shares a close, yet sometimes comical relationship with her samurai brother, Kenjiro. The two siblings have looked out for each other their entire lives, and though Kenjiro feels his sister is somewhat reckless, deep down he knows that she is the most fearsome warrior he has ever known.
Shinobu is a Farstrider who carries with him a sword of unknown origin. It is hinted about in the first book, but is explored a bit more in the final book due out later this year. There will be a future book that more completely delves into the relationship between the strider and this weapon.
The second book is more of a linking book, that follows only part of the original cast. We once again follow the adventures of Kenyatta and Kita, but this time we delve deeply into a character who only played a small part in the first book; Seung Yoon from the village of Kyu, in Korea. This beautiful woman begins a journey that will answer many of the questions she’s had about herself and her unusual appearance. In Legends Of A Shattered Age, we are introduced to new aspects of the world, and peoples that humans unwittingly share the world with…and I don’t just mean the typical kind that come to mind when you think of fantasy. *grin*
The final book, Heroes Of A Broken Age, further introduces you to more of the world, and brings about the conclusion to the struggle against Brit, an alien being who grows more powerful by leeching energy from the earth. These warriors battle waves of demons, as small as a human, and as large a skyscraper. There is no want for action in these books, and I have had a blast walking alongside the characters.
After the writing of the first book, I immediately started on the second, but after reaching near the halfway point, a family loss left me deeply wounded and lost. That, coupled with living in a place I did not enjoy, I had been unable to write more than a paragraph for nearly five years. This is where we come to the question of whether or not a person can truly know if they are a writer. I believe I cannot articulate this better than best selling author R.A. Salvatore when he said, “if you can make a living doing anything else, do it. If you can’t imagine doing anything else; if you have stories that demand to be written, and it’s on your mind all the time, then that’s it. You’re a writer.”
No truer words have ever been spoken. Though I had not written for nearly five years, the story was always there, waiting patiently in the back of my mind for when I finally opened my computer once more. The characters, with the patience of truly balanced warriors, waited for the day I came out of my prolonged grief and stepped back on the path with them to continue their story. And in June of 2010, I opened the computer once more, and stepped back into Legends Of A Shattered Age, and have been traveling in that world ever since.
It is here, that I would like to note that I do not believe in writer’s block. There are times when we reach a snag, and the creative juices do not flow as freely. We may need to stand up and walk away for a while. We may need to take a break, whether for a few hours or a few days, but writer’s block, to me, is in your head. When my father passed away, I didn’t write for years. If I was on a deadline, I would not have been able to take such an extended leave. But I was a beginning writer back then. It was a craft that was somewhat between a serious hobby and a scary career path.
And a scary career path it can be for the beginning writer. You’ve written that first book. It’s your baby that you’ve been nurturing for the past year or two, proofreading and re-writing and perfecting until you were ready to pull your hair out. Then, the prospect of submitting it to have it potentially torn apart by some stranger? It is a daunting thought. One thing I tell people when they ask me about this is, “what do you find more frightening? Do you find it more frightening working the job you do right now for the rest of your life, or potentially having your first manuscript read and constructively critiqued by a professional? At the end of the day, it is our precious ego that shrinks away from this challenge. We are afraid that our hard work and best effort isn’t good enough. Then what?
Then we work harder. When I was in the seventh grade, my best effort to climb the pole was about a foot off the ground. By the end of the seventh grade, my best effort was up and down the pole faster than anyone in my class. Is there a difference? Nope. It’s about putting in your best effort and improving, so that your best is better than your best was yesterday, last week, last year.
You want to be a writer, actor, basketball player, whatever. More than likely, your first best effort won’t make the cut, but with a good work ethic, some talent, a large amount of effort, and a small (better yet, nonexistent) ego, your best can and will be good enough. Fear is a barrier that tests us. Once you do what you fear, that fear will quickly disappear. Again, would you rather continue doing what you do now, or become that which you dream to be?
I cannot stress this enough that to be a success at whatever you choose to do in life, it will take a lot of work and discipline. Remember that we are asking people to pay us for the service we provide. There is nothing wrong with this as long as we give our customer (in this case, the reader) our very best and most professional effort possible. Always.
Will everyone always like everything that you write? Of course not. But as long as you put forth your very best effort at what you do, there will be many who will enjoy and resonate with your work. And that is a very satisfying and humbling thing.