So we have an active community of authors and writers here in Denver, and we talk to each other. One prevailing piece of wisdom going around is that readers are actually interested in reading about the creative process of writers; stuff like what made us want to write what we wrote, and what was going on in our lives at the time we wrote it. Since I have been looking for ways to try to connect with my followers on my mailing list, and I will be sending this out to them, I decided to write not one post, but a series of posts about the different books and series that I have written or I am currently working on, but I am also posting them here in my blog as well so that everybody can read them.
The first book I am going to talk about is my latest. It's volume one in an ongoing open-ended series called the Neamhain Prophecy, and it's titled "Ascension." It is the story of Liam and Zoe Fairchild, who are a pair of fraternal twins who grow up in London. The first chapter occurs when they are 13, but at the end of that chapter we time-skip, and by the time the second chapter rolls around they are in college. They discover that their mother has been hiding a secret from them, mainly that she is a goddess from the celestial realm, and that they are also gods, but they have to ascend to their divinity by immersing themselves in the well of eternity. The looming encounter with the well present them with their first conflict, as they hear that the well has its own ideas of who should and shouldn't be a god, and it has a tendency to consume those it deems unworthy of godhood, but they find the well to be far more benevolent than they expected.
So the story behind this story goes back more than 20 years. I was romantically involved with somebody who turned me onto the Sandman comic book. She introduced me to the writing of Neil Gaiman. I had not heard of him before that, but since that introduction, he has become a huge influence in my writing. The first issue that I read had a short story in it where Bast, the egyptian goddess of cats is wasting away in one of her temples, forgotten. In Gaiman's writing, and in mine as well, when it comes to gods, attention equals worship. But the cats have all forgotten about Bast, and now the very last cat that worships her gets hit by a car, and as a result Bast fades away into oblivion. I thought about this story. I thought about it a lot, and it led me to write a book I called Divinity, which was an urban fantasy about gods making their way in the modern world,
That was a very different time in publishing. Amazon wouldn't open up the publishing world to everybody for roughly a decade or so, which meant you had to really polish your story and find somebody who would publish it for you. The publishing houses were the gatekeepers and you had to impress them. So I wrote this story, and for at least a couple of years, I worked on editing it. Preparing to be able to prove my copyright, should the need ever arrive, I sent it off the the Library of Congress (because that was how we used to defend our copyright claims in a court of law, although that practice was already starting to fade out of use at that time) and I was just getting ready to start the process of sending out query letters when something unusual happened: I went to Colorado to visit my dad and stepmom, and my dad took me to a Christian men's conference, and I found religion; or rather it found me.
Naturally, there were things in Divinity many in the religious community would find objectionable. In fact, they would likely find the whole concept of modern gods objectionable, so I abandoned the book. A couple of years later, I moved from California to Colorado, but Colorado Springs where I was living was a much harder place in a lot of ways. Fewer good jobs, and the attitude of people there was much more "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, and don't expect charity from anybody" than L.A. where I grew up. That attitude carried over into the religious community there as well, and I began to grow dissatisfied with what I believed and still believe to be the politicization of faith. I lived there for over a decade, but in the end, I realized I was broke, and cynical, and I just needed a change so I moved to Denver, renounced that brand of faith, and I started anew.
Before leaving California, I had given an old laptop to my mom, and it had the working copy of Divinity on it. She read it and encouraged me, telling me it was really good and I should publish it. She shared it with my sisters as well, and they also encouraged me. I was resistant at first, but the idea had been planted in the fertile soil of my imagination. Up here in Denver, I had become plugged in with the roleplaying community, and became friends with Sean Patrick Fannon, one of the co-creators of Prowlers & Paragons. a superhero PRG. I made this character for the game that was secretly a god, but at the time I didn't have an outlet to play. Still, I realized as I started imagining not just my character, but a potential nemesis and potential settings that there was much more here than just my character. There were the beginnings of a story. So I sat down and I mapped out my ideas. Realizing I needed some inspiration for flavor to fill things in, I watched all 3 Thor movies. Then I subscribed to Starz on Hulu, and I started watching American Gods. (I love Mr. Nancy, BTW. Best character I have seen on TV in a long time.) Finally, I started writing. Zoe (Morganthe), and Liam (Cymru) are co-protagonists of this series. So far, I have written 3 volumes, and am at work on the 4th. Their stories have taken them in different directions, leading them on very different journeys, and since this is an open-ended series, meaning I'm going to keep pushing out volumes until I get tired of writing them, not even I know where some parts of the story will go yet. I am even working on putting together an RPG game in the setting with some friends, and might turn those into further books in the setting when Zoe and Liam's time in the spotlight are done. We'll just have to see where it goes.
At any rate gentle reader, I hope you might give Ascension a try, or at the very least you found this retelling of 20+ years of my life at least mildly diverting. Ascension is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback. I plan to put up more posts like these to tell the stories behind my other stories as well, so until next time, keep exploring those realms of imagination.
Story behind the story: Ascension
- Written by Brett J. Baker