Okay, so today I want to take a small break from the telling of Comeback Kid and I want to shift gears and discuss my big project, a book series entitled Once. Now this is the actual series that I have been working on since 2010 at age nineteen. I want to discuss this series in detail and this is the book series I would love to present to publishers once it is completed. I’m very far along in my first book in the series and I’m going over second and third edits in order to make Once as perfect as possible.
Many people ask me the same thing: Todd, why are you so intent on creating a book series?
I actually started writing as a way to express my thoughts, perspectives, and opinions on the world and especially global and historical affairs. I was and still am an avid reader on a wide variety of topics and I really wanted to combine and crossover several different books I have read in the past, along with movies I have seen and television shows I have watched. I also have a very active imagination and the very second one or two thoughts appeared in my head, a voice within me said to make note of everything that I felt would be worthy of being mentioned in a book one day. After several months of taking notes, I decided to take a crack at making it into a book.
So another question I’m often asked: Why has it taken you so long to actually finish writing a single draft of a book series?
It’s taken me over six years to do this and a few months ago I finally finished the first draft. When designing a book series, continuity is huge and potential plot holes are everywhere. It’s also important to really create the roles for each character throughout the entire series, in each book, in order to maintain that continuity. This was also a challenge, since I changed roles for many of my characters more times than I can count, especially my main characters. When I finally settled on my plot my main characters were able to slide smoothly into their roles, but I had to find roles for the many minor and recurring characters. This also made it a challenge, since there are many.
What changes did I make when designing my plots?
I honestly have an identical plot since the beginning, but many things changed over the course of six years. I finally found a way to explain my plot in July, 2015. Initially, the plot was going to be about my main character leading a group of rebels in an overthrowing of a corrupt government in their country. This plot stuck but I wasn’t sold on it simply because there were no real connections between the main characters and I knew it would flame out. Then came July 4th and the funny thing about being a writer is that I love being secluded from everyone else. I prefer being alone with my thoughts. I turned on the miniseries ‘Sons of Liberty’ and within two minutes I knew I found the right explanation for my plot. I still could use my corrupt government coup but I set the government further away, overseas. This government was also an empire to many different peoples of the world and this fictional universe. However, I didn’t want anything to be a direct carbon copy, so I decided to go with modern day. I asked myself the following question: What if the American Revolution occurred in modern times? What would be the same? What would be different? What kind of role would the rest of the world play in this conflict? But I still wasn’t one-hundred percent sold on this because the original plots had fantasy-like ingredients and I wanted to sustain them, despite the story being told in modern times. I just had to keep the fantasy elements in there and after writing one-quarter of my first draft, I went back and reinserted them back into my book.
What books, movies, music, and television series influenced me the most?
There are a lot, so bear with me. I wanted to include anything and everything in this so first off I want to recognize the music, because it is very important to my inspiration. The melodic elements and lyrics in the symphonic power metal genre of music really helped me imagine my world. If you listen to bands such as DragonForce, Falconer, and Kamelot, you will really get a good idea where I’m coming from. Furthermore, Nightwish, Xandria, Within Temptation, and others were also huge influences in everything such as the landscape of my world in which the series is set to the types of characters who are included to the kinds of scenes in which I wrote. Many aspects came from my music, which I listen to daily while working out, training others (my phone is in a beat box), and simply during any kind of activity of daily living.
I’ve read several different books and those from the fantasy genre shaped the series. There are a few more popular book series so I’m going to be vague here, but fantasy was big in this. The same goes for movies and television shows. My big motto here is to expect the unexpected. Take everything you know with a grain of salt and turn it all upside down. Trust me on this one.
Of course, everyone asks me what this book is about, so I’m going to tell you! Vaguely!
Alright, so here goes nothing. My main character is Cain Robertson. Cain is a college athlete at a school called Summit University, which is located in the free land of North Columbia. Cain and many Summit University students live in the occupied area of South Columbia, a colony that is controlled by the ruthless Southpoint Empire, who rule many different colonies all over the world with an iron fist. In order to escape into North Columbia on an annual basis, Cain and the others take an airplane journey from a South Columbian airport that is secretly run by North Columbian authorities.
Cain is initially very careless. He is a college athlete, playing three different sports in Summit University. Now, Summit is isolated due to being the only major university located in free North Columbia. All of the other colleges and universities are located in South Columbia. Because of this, Summit, a school of ten-thousand undergraduates, has their own intra-university league, with twelve teams playing at the highest levels in any given sport. Cain is a very talented shotball player. Shotball is a co-ed game that resembles rugby, soccer, field hockey, American football, and basketball. Cain, who lives in a very relaxed area in occupied South Columbia visits his friend, Lira Ross, in a heavily occupied town called Ironton. Lira is very poor, her family being constantly sick, aging, and owning next to nothing, her father having abandoned the family years ago when she was very young. Lira informs Cain how much more heavily occupied Ironton is than Cain’s home region of River Valley, where Southpoint presence is light due to the low population density compared to that of Ironton.
Cain is still very careless until he hears of a mandatory conscription meeting that is to take place the next night. Every individual in Ironton age twenty-five and under are forced to attend. If they are caught failing to attend, they will be incarcerated along with their family. Lira is safe due to her possessing a false work pass but since Cain, as well as Micah Robertson and Marcos Gretels, their two other friends who are also visiting Lira in Ironton do not posses these since they live in a low risk area. It is only when Cain witnesses the horrors of the Southpoint Empire firsthand does he decide to take action against Southpoint.
Cain goes from an athlete who only wishes to live a life in luxury that many professional athletes live to a warrior who is ready to bang war drums. He looks to do all he can in order to rid South Columbia of Southpoint soldiers and law enforcement. This threat only becomes more of a reality when Southpoint officials begin their plot to take over Summit University and North Columbia.
Okay, so that’s all I’m getting to at the moment. I do wish to briefly introduce each and every one of my characters in time. But that is for another blog.