by Joe Lyon
The Birth of Astar
About ten years ago, around 2010-2011, I started writing a little story about a boy who received a magical golden dagger on his eighteenth birthday, from his invalid and crippled father. The boy’s name was Astar, and the blade was called Soothsayer, an ornately decorated weapon, possessed by a demon.
The World is Your Sandbox
Over time the story started to grow. I began thinking of a world to accompany these characters. In that regard, the scope of the story grew to world-building. I settled on a topology that represented an abbreviated version of the United States. To the East, I created the tallest mountains to symbolize the skyscrapers of New York City. To the West, I made the Blue Mountains that were beautifully spread out like the city of angels, Los Angeles. In the center, I made a great valley — the Mid-Run Valley — that represented the USA’s heartland, where the villagers enjoyed an abundance of life, both plant and animals. To the North, I created a tall forest of ancient trees, the Great Mapes forest to represent the sprawling city of Chicago. Port Harbor, the shipping hub in the South reminds me of New Orleans in the delta region. The landscape varied little over the years.
More stories formed in my mind. Some of them plugged into the story, some did not. For those that did not, I have plenty of other ideas for future novels. For those ideas that did fit, like the story of the witch and the Timmutes, I included them in the legends and lore of Astar Blade. Yet, after all of this thought, I still did not have a good start. The story kept me awake at night, and the characters were what I dreamed about.
Every time I tried to get the story going, I got plugged up with what authors call, the dreaded “data dump”, which is the opposite of “writer’s cramp”. This problem of data dump is the equivalent of starting a story by vomiting too many details all at once. I certainly had a whole world and epic story in my head, but each time I committed to putting it on paper, I got hit with the data dump, which turned my story into pure suck. If I could only figure out how to get around the data dump I could be on my way to telling the growing story of Astar’s Blade.
The Problem’s Were Driving Me Crazy
So, I had a problem. The story did not stop growing in my mind, but my pen would not relay my thoughts in a controlled manner. It was not until I got the idea: instead of trying to eliminate the data dump, I will lean into it, double-down on it, expand it, frame it, and turn the data dump into its own novel. Certainly, I thought I had enough background to create an origin for the story. I called it The Provenance, which is a word you hear a lot on Pawn Stars when books or art needs a chain-of-custody story. Where did it come from? It was my Eureka moment: instead of running from the data dump, I embraced it and turned it into its own free-standing story. Not only could I make it an interesting and unique story, it would also serve to explain and establish the world-at-large, creating the sandbox my future books would play in. Click here to get The Provenance.
Then, another story began to haunt me. Ironically, it was about a man who was haunted by a ghost. The character was named Kilmer, who had a troubled past, but who had yet a spirit that had been in his life since early childhood. The ghost showed him things, guided him, helped him. After the first book established the world, Kilmer’s Ghost would move the story forward through that land I made in my mind. The Astar’s Blade story was moving, from Epic Fantasy to Paranormal / Horror. My thoughts and mind were being relieved to finally find the outlet, the method, the utility, I needed to tell the tale, and now it was flowing. Click here to get Kilmer’s Blade
Pandemics and Audiobooks
One year later, and about 50 pounds heavier, in the middle of a deadly pandemic, masks, telework, isolation, and boredom, all the ingredients came together, and I passed the time banging away quietly living out the fantasy in my mind through the keyboard of my laptop. In a blaze of blurry-eyed determination, I finished the work, finished my manuscripts, sent them to editors, developed covers, learned about independent (indie) self-publishing, marketing, promotion, etc., etc. So many things I had never done before, I had to learn mostly by trial-and-error. Including finding Lisa Negron, a voice actor, and narrator to provide all the voices and personalities for my characters for the audiobook.
Now, I am taking a bit of a break. PS — I will NEVER try to publish more than one book at a time. They say writing a fiction novel is less like a sprint and more like a marathon. Amen! But getting two books out within three months of each other was nothing short of madness! So, I need to take a bit of a breather, before I finish the next book (yes I said finish, the third book is about 25% complete) but I have the luxury of taking my good ole sweet time about it now.
Catch Your Breathe, Breath Again
The next book is the planned final book of the series, and quite frankly, the book I always wanted to write in the first place. The first book established the world. The second book was a haunting distraction. But the third book, ah! The third book is the one I wanted to write all along. And it is going to be wild! I can’t wait to complete the quest I started, we started together if you read them, even I do not know how it will turn out yet, and it might not even be the last edition. There could be plenty more. But I intend on finishing this last “planned” one, then write a couple of thrillers with a paranormal and horror elements — unrelated–, maybe even a science fiction novel. I would also like to do some short stories, maybe for magazine articles, then who knows? Maybe there will be an Astar’s Blade Part 4.
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From your favorite Astar’s Blade author.