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The third post in a series I am calling "The story behind the story" that tells the story about what made me want to write what I wrote and what was going on in my life at that time will be the first to highlight a book that has not been officially released yet, but will be launching on Amazon in just a few days. It will be the first volume in my GameLit series "Twilight Realms Online" titled "Cataclysm".

I wrote "Cataclysm" in 2018, but the story starts a couple of years prior to that. In 2016, I met a gentleman by the name of James A. Hunter through a friend and fellow writer. James was making a name for himself writing Lit RPG, a kind of Offshoot of the GameLit genre that emphasizes game mechanics and consistency within the game world. So while a book like "Ready Player One" would be considered GameLit, it would not be considered Lit RPG. Series like "The Land" by Aleron Kong, or Hunter's own "Veridian Gate Online" would be considered examples of Lit RPG. Initially, I set out to write a Lit RPG myself, but the story moved in a different direction, so I decided to call it a GameLit series instead. Anyway, back to the story.

I have been an avid player of MMO games for well over a decade. I started out playing City of Heroes, I've also played WoW, Aion, Blade & Soul, and Final Fantasy XIV among others, so you could say I was already predisposed to write a GameLit or Lit RPG series anyway due to my gaming background. I have also been a longtime fan of manga and anime, and particularly enjoyed the GameLit anime series Log Horizon (apparently, there is going to be a Season 3 coming out this fall, BTW.) I also watched Sword Art Online, another GameLit anime, but I was far less impressed by that series, as it often seemed to be written by somebody who didn't play videogames, and at times could come across as very ham-fisted. So back to James Hunter. For a time, I interacted with Mr. Hunter through a local writers group here in Denver where I live, although he has since moved out-of-state. His success writing in the genre got me thinking about trying my own luck writing GameLit/Lit RPG. To that point, most of my stuff was Space Opera, a lot of it with a focus on wierd multi-dimensional imaginations and conjecture. With "Twilight Realms Online" I set out to hit all the classic GameLit tropes: protagonist finds himself suddenly trapped inside the video game, protagonist discovers game has become a deathgame, where if you die in the game, you die in real life, etc.

So, I sat down and I crafted my protagonist, Kale Blackthorne. The first name was the name of a great-uncle of mine who made his living as a professional artist. I chose to name my protagonist after him for no particular reason. The last name I chose simply because I thought it was cool. Kale is a veteran gamer, who has conquered much of the game and has been looking for new challenges in the world of Twilight Realms Online. Mostly to fight boredom, he has been playing on a playtest server, testing a pending expansion of the game pre-release. He is an extremely intelligent, but somehwat cynical person, yet is still capable of surprising idealism at times. Kale plays the part of a Street Sorceror, a spellcaster who by his own choice focuses on thorn magic. He is joined by his erstwhile friend Pascal, a solid, dependable, and generally other-centered person who plays the tank in their duo. (For those of you who don't know, a tank is a player who bulks up his defenses and allows enemies to focus their attacks on him so that his allies can "burn" them down while they are occupied attacking him.) Near the beginning of the book, they are also joined by Zoe, a highly capable gunslinger and voidrunner (In the world of Twilight Realms Online, a voidrunner is probably most closely associated with a hacker.)

Kale falls asleep at his keyboard, and next thing he knows he awakens inside the game. At first, he thinks he's having an odd dream. He comes face-to-face with Pascal, and they discover that they can't log out of the game, and as that realization spreads throughout the city of Ouroboros, chaos ensues. Kale thinks to check his quest journal, and they start following the questline, that has been altered from what Kale had encountered on the playtesting server. This starts them on a path to unravel the mystery of what has happened which has trapped them in the world of TRO.

The world of TRO is rich in lore. It is drawn heavily from Celtic mythology. The primary realm they play in is Tír na nÓg, or Otherworld as it is also called. Historically, Tír na nÓg and a few other places were once ruled over by the Lord of Twilight, Oberon, who was king of the Winter Court of Avalon, hence the name "Twilight Realms Online." In their quest to find a way out of the game, and back to real life, Kale and his companions will travel across the width and breadth of the Twilight Realms as this epic adventure unfolds around them.

Of all my series, TRO was probably the most enjoyable for me to write, but at times also the most difficult. I had some occasional trouble connecting with Kale and his hard-boiled cynicism, but I think it all paid off in the end. if you choose to read "Twilight Realms Online" I promise you will have answers to the mystery by the end of the first book, but there will be consequences that will still have to play themselves out over the rest of the series, and watching those consequences unfold, and the extraordinary actions that Kale and his companions must take to overcome them should prove highly entertaining, I hope.

I expect to have "Cataclysm" released on Amazon next week, so stay tuned for an announcement.

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