Once Official Synopsis

Cain Robertson never thought he’d play a vital role in reigniting a major colonial uprising not seen in twenty years since Columbia’s defeat to the ruthless Southpoint Empire. A college athlete who dreams only of a professional career overseas in a free nation, sports and a life of luxury are Cain’s forte. However, upon visiting a good friend in her hometown over summer break, Cain witnesses firsthand the true horrors of Southpoint and can’t bear to stand by and do nothing.

By taking illegal action using his supernatural control of the elements, Cain becomes a marked man, a prime target of Southpoint’s Supreme Leader over Columbia, the evil, power-loving bastion, General Adam Mattheos. As uprisings and protests begin in the Columbian Colonies for the first time in two decades, Columbians look up to Cain for motivation and to finish a fight started by the previous generation over two decades ago, all in the name of true liberty and freedom.

Sport of Sports

Once is about college athletes and their quest to do something greater than themselves, and their sport. While many of my main characters are three-sport athletes, shotball is by far the most intriguing sport not only in the book, but in the world of Gaia. What is shotball? Think of its popularity in Columbia and in the rest of the world as something that would rival American Football in the United States and Association Football (Soccer) in many other parts of the world.

First, I wish to provide some basic information regarding the game. Shotball is played with eleven players per side, just like American and Association Football. Like American Football, the field is one-hundred yards in length. There is one goaltender, two defenders who only play on the defensive half of the field, four centers who play from the defensive twenty-five-yard line to the offensive twenty-five-yard line, three attackers, who play on the offensive half of the field, and one wanderer, who can play anywhere on the field at any given time.

What is and isn’t allowed in the game? Shotball is very reminiscent to rugby in many ways, but there are many differences. For one, forward passing is legal, and the ball can be moved by carrying it downfield, by passing, kicking, punting, or drop-kicking. There are three ways to score: one point is scored by throwing the ball into the net, two points are scored by kicking, and three points are scored via drop-kick. The goaltender may leave the box and it must be advised goaltender interference is allowed as long as the ball is in the air during a shot. If the goaltender is in possession of the ball, they may be hit or tackled. Tackling below the shoulders is legal on any player.

Now for the fouls and penalties, which work like hockey. There are minors, double-minors, and majors. Most penalties are self-explanatory, but I’ll give a brief rundown of each:

Offsides: Any player crosses into a restricted zone. Only wanderers cannot go offsides. Possession of the ball returns to the opposing team.

Minors: two-minutes on the sideline.

Holding: Grabbing another player’s jersey while they’re trying to chase down the ball carrier.

Block in the back: Blocking another player on their blindside while chasing down the ball carrier.

Defensive holding: A defending player grabbing the jersey to slow down the offensive player when ball is in possession of the opposing team.

Tripping: A player intentionally trips another player at any time during the game.

Interference: A player defending player pushes, shoves, or holds an intended receiver when the ball is in the air.

Chop-block: An offensive player blocks a defensive player below the belt.

Intentional Grounding: An offensive player intentionally throws the ball out of bounds or to an area where no receiver is in the vicinity.

 

Double-minor: Four minutes on the sidelines.

A single player repeating the same minor penalty twice will be subject to a double-minor.

Delay of Game: If a player is tackled, they must have the opportunity to throw the ball to another player after being tackled, and the tacklers must release themselves of the ball carrier immediately.

Horse collar tackle: Bringing down a player by the collar of their jersey.

Roughing the passer: Hitting a player after the ball is thrown. Note that if a player is already in the motion of tackling, this penalty must be waved off, or if the player is readying himself to tackle the passer.

Roughing the kicker: Hitting a player after they kick, punt, or drop-kick the ball. This is an identical penalty to roughing the passer.

Hit on defenseless player: Occurs when the defense intentionally hits a defenseless player. This occurs if the two players are fifteen yards or more behind the ball carrier, or if a player jumps to catch a ball and is tackled hard before landing. Note that this penalty is much like roughing the passer. If a defensive player is already in the motion of tackling, or readying their momentum to tackle, the penalty is waved off and the offensive player assumes risk. This penalty only occurs if the defensive player readies themselves to tackle after the receiver has leaped into the air.

Goaltender Interference: As previously mentioned, this is legal as long as the ball is in the air. If an offensive player makes contact with the goaltender before the ball is in the air, this will be a penalty every time.

 

Major:

If a player repeats a double-minor twice, or a minor more than three times in one game, they’re subject to a major, which is five minutes on the sideline. If a player repeats a major twice, they’re ejected from the game.

If any player repeats the same minor more than four times in a game, they’re ejected, yet may remain on the sidelines, as it works as a foul-out, much like basketball.

If any player repeats the same double-minor more than three times in a game, they’re ejected.

Targeting: Targeting the head or shoulders of an opposing player. This goes for both the offense and defense.

Piling on: Occurs when a player intentionally piles on after a player is tackled. Note this penalty is waved if the ball is fumbled and an attempt to recover the loose ball occurs.

Anything flagrant: Such as throwing down a defenseless player, throwing the ball at a player’s head, or anything similar that threatens the integrity of the game.

*Note that for all penalties, if a penalty occurs while a player is in the process of shooting, they’re awarded a penalty shot.

 

The game lasts forty to sixty minutes, depending on the quarter length. In the professional leagues (only mentioned in Once), the game is four, fifteen minute quarters. In the collegiate game, they’re twelve minutes, while in high school, they’re only ten minutes. Some versions simply play two twenty minute halves or two twenty-four minute halves in favor of quarters, while sometimes in the collegiate game or professional game, three periods are used. In collegiate and professional games (not mentioned in the book), it is the home team who decides whether they use halves, quarters, or periods. Periods are not available for use at the high school level.

Overtime rules consist of an additional five-minute period, and the first team to score wins. If a tie persists, they go on to a shootout, where the first team to score wins. Note, that if the first player scores, the other team does get a chance to score as well. It is only after both teams receive an equal chance to score will the game be deemed over. Therefore, if the first team scores on their first shot, the second team receives a chance to match it.

Shotball is featured in Once. It contains a vital subplot which will teach the reader much about the characters, their temperaments, and their personas. In real life, we become different people when sports erupt. Whether we’re playing, our sons and daughters (I’m currently childless), our favorite collegiate and professional sports teams, or anyone in between, our attitudes change from calm, reserved, and easy-going to competitive. Sometimes, simply competitive is an understatement.

Realistic Fantasia

The fantasy genre, in my personal opinion, is all about world building. Once is just that: world building. In conjunction with my highly descriptive writing style, the need to explain an alternate fantasy world inflates any fantasy novel and series, Once: The Lost Book of Cain is a whopping one-hundred and eighty thousand words, written at over five-hundred pages. This was after about seven rounds of editing. Being that this is my first full length manuscript, I’m admittedly a newbie to the writing world, but I love description, and at times, can be very overly descriptive. I’m not going to go too far out on a limb and say I’m as descriptive as Robert Jordan, creator of the Wheel of Time, or descriptive to the extent of Washington Irving when he took a good two pages to describe Ichabod Crane in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I have the ability to annoy a reader with description. Again, being a newbie to the writing scene, and especially the fantasy genre, I’m still in figure-it-out mode, yet after coming across some awesome sites such as WritersDigest, I can claim with confidence I’ve grown as a writer.

Today I want to touch up on my fantasy world, which I’ve taken a rather different approach to building. While this an alternate world where the “laws of physics and nature” differ from our boring, real world, it is a stark mirror image of our real world. What I’m going to do is compare and contrast Earth from a world I’ve dubbed Gaia, my influences behind it (as described in earlier posts), and what makes that world so unique in the realm of fantasy.

I decided to create this fantasy world much like our real world, so the reader could identify better with the images created in the mind. In this world, we have many modern-day technologies, such as cell phones, television, internet, air travel, automobiles, modern-day weaponry (it is a war tale), and many other modern amenities. I did this because much of the population do not possess fantastical abilities seen with many of the main characters. This is very much like the Muggle World versus the Wizarding World in Harry Potter, with one huge difference: the two worlds are intertwined, and they interact with one another. In other words, those without abilities go to the same school as those with abilities, are next door neighbor, are aware of the other’s existence, powers, etc. I like to refer to this as everyone possessing different abilities, since this something we see in the world today.

Remember when the term ‘disabled’ or ‘handicapped’ was thrown around because perhaps some individuals possessed ability outside the “status-quo?” Today, we’re enlightened enough to realize that some of us are differently-abled. For example, I’m typically deemed as socially awkward, withdrawn, and reclusive, but this isn’t the case! I simply love to listen, observe, and of course, get lost in my own fantasy world. Secondly, when I take the time to pen something, everyone sees me in a new light and I’m no longer deemed socially awkward, shielded, or anything of the sort. I just communicate better when I’m writing things down. I’m not a backward individual; I’m simply lost in thought. Studies show there are more extroverts than introverts, so obviously, the extroverts outnumber us introverts, therefore this becomes status-quo. Many of us who write better than we speak in person (often sputtering, stuttering, and slurring words) simply communicate differently. The very same logic applies to the ability versus non-ability theme in Once. On one side of the equation, you have those with abilities who are very, very gifted in combat, communication with the World of Void or Spirit World, can invade the mind, hide thought, possess, and see something before the occurrence. However, most are very, very inefficient when it comes to firing a weapon. Those without ability are not going to produce anything supernatural, but they’re going to be much more proficient in other avenues, such as marksmanship.

Also, although they’re still not of equal physical strength, females do possess greater physical strength and athletic ability in comparison to the men in Once. This is shown on the shotball field, but would also be present in all other sports. In Gaia, all sports are co-ed, as gender discrimination faded long ago due to the rather identical strengths in athletic ability seen by both genders.

Racial discrimination, however, does exist, and it’s an important theme to hit hard on. One of my main characters is of the minority race (those with native blood in Columbia are called Native Columbians, much like the Native American race in America), yet it’s my personal belief they become a fan favorite due to their traits, personality, and fierceness. They’re one of the characters that will literally steal the heart of many readers and will give my protagonist a run for their money in terms of overall popularity. Why market a character of a minority race in this work? This one is to prove a point, because to this day, racism still strongly exists in both the north and south. We see this not only with race, but with ethnic groups. Think about it, many White Christians wish for a wall to be built on the southern border or a travel ban issued to Muslims. Being a self-described Libertarian, I’m all for open borders and anyone is welcome in America, but I’m not a strong believer in the welfare system helping anyone out, be it an immigrant or someone who was born on this soil. Come into the country, but make your way. Trust me, you’ll find people who will be more than glad to help you out. It’s all about finding them. In all, my true point is to prove regardless of race or ethnicity, you can and will make an impact and move mountains.

The above outlines many comparisons made between Gaia and our own Earth. Now I’d like to dive deep into what makes Gaia unique and different from Earth. Here is where many of my actual influences come into play. First off, about ten percent of the population in Columbia possess special abilities, ranging from element control of fire, wind, earth, water, Void, blood, wood, and metal, to aura rays (conjuring different lights, a very underrated yet useful ability), communication with the World of Void as seen in those who possess mastery in Void control, smoke travel (ability to burst into smoke and travel in smoke form to another location), windsurf (utilized by those who can control wind), spirit travel (some have the ability to travel from portals from the physical world to the World of Void), fire travel (burst into flames and travel in flame form), mindtravel (ability to invade the minds of others), earth travel (travel through the earth and ending up in a different location), water travel (literally turn into or walk atop water to get to a destination), and mind-defend (ability to defend the mind against foreign invaders). These are only a distinct handful of abilities seen, some utilized more than others, depending upon how many in the population possess the ability.

Also, while the landscape may be similar to Earth, Gaia may either be a spinning ball or a flat, stationary circular disk. This is something I don’t intend to reveal yet, but this issue pops up occasionally. Also, the Southpoint Empire is located within a country known as Southland, on the continent of Eura. This draws a comparison between Southpoint and the British Empire, while Eura sounds much like Europe. Also, Lourdes and Madridia are Gaia versions of France and Spain, respectively. Columbia may be compared to America, while Kanata is the Gaia version of Canada, and Azteca stands for Mexico. While I dotted similarities between the names of the countries, I must stress the cultures, landscapes, locations, and geographic climate of these colonies and countries are not consistent with Earth’s! The reader will likely draw many comparisons, but the size, shape, and everything mentioned above are by no means consistent with one-another. For example, the Columbian landscape is much smaller than that of modern-day America. Azteca, which lays to the south of Columbia, is also smaller, and only lays to the southwest. Kanata, on the other hand, is only northwest of Columbia, as Columbia lies to both the southeast and east of Kanata. For that, Kanata is landlocked to the east, as is Azteca.

When it comes to the continent of Eura, there are very few countries, which is also a contrast from the continent of Europe. Southland is the mirror-image of England, while Ddraigoch (Wales) lies to the west, and Edinboro (Scotland), to the north. Also, within mainland Europe, there is Valainia (Scandinavia), Lourdes (France), Madridia (Spain), Hessia (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland), Romatica (Italy, southeast Europe), and Mosca (Russia, and eastern countries). Keep in mind this is a modern-day conflict.

So, what exactly is Southpoint? I’ve originated the Southpoint name from the words ‘south’ and ‘point.’ I wanted the reader to easily identify who the villain is, and south always points down, while point gives the Empire’s persona being the “southernmost point.” Very identical to “bottomless pit” in the Christian Bible. Not only this, but Southland is ironically very far north, yet derives its name from Edinboro being north, hence the name Southland. A second reason I’ve dubbed the name Southpoint Empire is due to the fact the entire empire lies south of Southland. In every single region, including Columbia, the occupied zones all lay south of Southland, giving the name Southpoint. Southpoint also maintains a large presence in the following comparable areas upon Gaia that can be comparable to Earth: West Oceanics (what would be Southeast Asia and Oceania), Origin Nations of East Afrikaana (the oldest known human settlements in Gaia are in East Afrikaana, which is indeed Africa, controlled by Southpoint), Central and South Afrikaana (Central African Republic and South Africa), and Gaza (modern day Israeli, Palestinian land). I’d love to create a world map of Gaia, but this outline gives one a decent idea of the similarities of Gaia as compared to our own world, yet differences as well. When an actual map is drawn up, the reader will see even further differences. I went with rather identical names of many of the regions since they can easily be found on a map of our real Earth and the reader will have a general idea of their locations.

Influences of Once: Part IV: Distractions

Distractions are key to keeping our minds off an unfortunate truth. What is this truth? It comes in many different shapes and forms, such as world events, lawmaking, changes in public policy, and global threats abroad. Have you ever wondered why we care so much about our sports (myself included) but the reality is how little sports matter in this big picture of our fallen world? I have thought about this continually over the past seven years. I’m a big believer in conspiracy, especially that of a new world order and a global elitist group controlling “world leaders” in every move that is made.

Before I really dive into distractions, I want to talk about a few key issues in the world that I’ve implemented into Once that I really want to jump out at the reader as they read the work. I’ve used the sport of shotball among other sports as a distraction to intentionally put the reader in another mind-set as I discuss the evils of the work’s antagonists.

Now, some of you may disagree with me on some of these issues entirely because I will forewarn you that I’m an extreme libertarian to the point that I consider statism of any kind an evil act. In America and in the world abroad, we see the following:

  1. A public schooling curriculum developed by the state. I know many of you will disagree on this, but I’m actually against mandatory public schooling, as I see it as indoctrination. Only one side of history and one side of science is taught. If any of you are familiar with George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, you’ll know where I’m going with this. I’m not saying all history was re-written, but I question its accuracy, as it’s going to be told from a very biased point of view. As for science, if you’re a big believer in young-earth creationism and have reason to believe in a flat earth (not saying I believe this but I concede I am giving the idea a fair chance), schools only teach one side of the equation, which is evolutionary science. Students are expected to retain this kind of information with standardized testing.
  2. Back to the kids, if a kid is daydreaming too much they’re put onto a pill or medication to help them concentrate more in school, and if the parent fails to carry out the prescribed medication by that child’s physician, it’s considered child abuse. I’m sorry, but unless the parent is truly incapable of taking care of their child, the decision rests in them on whether or not they wish to drug their kid up. In fact, this is such a recent policy for the most part, we have no idea what kind of side-effects these drugs will have on our children in the future. Too much of anything is a bad idea, and this is exactly what makes people dependent on medications, which will continue into adult-hood. If you teach these kids at a young age a pill is a quick fix, they’re going to forever be dependent on them, which makes money for doctors and pharmaceuticals.
  3. The NSA continually spies on Americans in many different ways. They can have access to your phone records, email, websites you’ve visited, place of work, and if they have reason to, they can track you daily. The NSA is very comparable to the Death Eaters in Harry Potter, because this is exactly what they did to Arthur Weasley and others who were in the Order of the Phoenix. Act out of line, even in words, you’re going to be tracked.
  4. When Obamacare was passed, Congress was exempt. That’s right, they literally made a healthcare policy you were required to follow or else pay a fine when you received your tax returns. If the government can require this, as with any insurance, which is by far one of the most unconstitutional things out there, what can’t they require? Oh, and there’s the double-standard that Congress obviously believed they were either above the law as they exempted themselves from this bill.
  5. Former President Obama, the so-called worker’s champion, urged Congress to better compensate past presidents. You do know, of course, this comes straight out of your own tax dollars. Looks like Obama had a double-standard too, but we’ll begin with universal healthcare he and his henchmen were exempt from.
  6. We still have members of our military based in one-hundred and ninety different countries. Did you know that America called this imperialism when the French and British did this? Now that America does this very same thing, they say it’s for security. I call it hypocrisy.
  7. We’re still fighting endless wars such as the War on Terror and the War on Drugs. Did you know that once upon a time our relations with countries in the Middle East such as Iran were actually on good terms before we decided to place military bases all over the region supposedly for stability? Yeah, Iran was once a major ally of the U.S. and Britain until 1953 when they decided to overthrow the Iranian government. Do they even mention the 1953 coup in Iran in schools anymore, or was that written out of the text book?

 

Shotball is comparable to American Football in Once in terms of popularity. Since Summit University, one of the primary settings for Once, is isolated from the other eighty-seven colleges and universities in the region, it is the only university to contain its own league and not be part of the Colonial Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) like the other colleges and universities in the Columbian Colonies.

At Summit University, there are twelve teams, six in the South Division and six in the North Division. Those in the South Division make up the six Southern Apartment Complexes, hailing from South Columbia. They are Matthews, Wilson, Oiler, Caldrone, Wallace, and Robinson. The names six Complexes here represent the names of historical figures in the series, and are also family names of my own lineage, with the exception of Robinson. This is due to the surname of my main character sharing the actual last name of that lineage, yet Robinson is a very similar sounding name, so it received the nod. The students are randomly selected to live in any of the six Apartment Complexes on the Summit University Campus.

The North Division differs since there are only five Complexes in favor of six, but this is due to one shotball team being made entirely of commuting students. The students who live in these Complexes actually hail from certain major cities around North Columbia, or the same regional area as these cities. They are Hallsburg, Forest City, River City, Northcoast, Richfield (on campus team), and Richfield (off campus team).

In all, twelve teams make up what is known as the Summit Shotball League (SSL), a league that has been around since the school’s founding, even when Summit played in the CCAA. During that time, the SSL acted as a minor league, although CCAA players were known to play in the SSL on a part-time basis if they wished.

I wanted something to feel like College Game Day, so I implemented this sport I came up with back in 2009 after watching NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell further kill the NFL. Yet, I envisioned something I could see someone like John Madden doing a television broadcast of, or Jim Donovan (Browns radio announcer), doing play-by-play with partner-in-crime, Doug Dieken. I wanted to hear Pat Summerall’s voice as I wrote the shotball pieces, actively calling the television play-by-play, and hearing John Madden’s analysis of the plays. Shotball is also a nod to the Harry Potter series, where Quidditch is the featured sport, but I wanted to relate my version of things closer to real life, where readers could vividly picture what was happening during each of the games I wrote of in this five-hundred page extended-length.

I was also very descriptive in everything, and I decided to use team colors of the old AFC Central to describe the South Columbian Division: brown and orange, black and yellow, teal and gold, purple and black, powder blue and white, and orange and black. I wanted to the reader to relate this as closely as possible to real life, so much I’m describing strategies, line-changes, action in very close detail, and the reaction of the crowd.

Shotball was definitely the fun part of my project, as it allowed me to do what I always did when I was younger: create my very own sports league on paper and turn it into real life. Would the sport turn into an actual game? Hey, if Quidditch keeps growing I’d give this sport the benefit of the doubt, but I’ll also be realistic. I don’t know if it’ll ever pick up steam from a real-life standpoint, but it sure would make a fun recreational sport.

Did you happen to watch the news last night or were you too busy watching the NBA and NHL playoffs?

Influences of Once: Part III

I’m loving this Influences Behind Once series, because it gives the reader a great idea on how Once came to be. Furthermore, it shows there are so many different elements behind it I can honestly say the work will be appealing to people who read outside the genre. This is due to the fact I pulled so many different influences from many sources outside the fantasy genre. If I didn’t, one would be reading the same exact story simply written in a unique way from just another writer. What fun is that? I wanted to differentiate myself from the other writers in the genre, so I searched far and wide, citing many of my favorite works while I did this project. My only hope is a publishing company agrees with me, of which the jury is still out.

For Part III on my Influences of Once, I want to turn our attention to the big screen, and there are two movie series that will jump out at the reader. One movie series being Star Wars and the other Fast and Furious. Star Wars had been an influence from the beginning, back in 2010 when I started to pen this tale while Fast and Furious only became an influence after I started writing my final first draft. The reader will see elements of both in the work. For instance, there are abilities and weaponry reminiscent of Star Wars in Once, such as some having the ability to see things before they happen in a similar manner to the Jedi, but it’s nowhere near a carbon copy, and that’s very important. Those with ability in Stoicheion and Philosophic elements are granted a sword called the Sword of Stoicheion or Sword of Philosophic, dependent on their ability. These swords have power to enhance the mastery of one’s abilities, while being proficient in blocking gunshots and are known to act on their own accord at times if it involves saving their owner. They are very loyal pieces of equipment, but if the sword falls into the wrong hands, it will “realize” they have the wrong owner and will refuse to comply with them.

Moving onto Fast and Furious, I imagined a rather large ensemble of main characters, and I had to place it into Once. I originally only had three main characters, but upon seeing Fast and Furious, the fact that this is definitely an extended work, and the sheer amount of action, drama, and scale of the conflict, I had to promote more than a few minor characters into major character roles. I won’t elaborate on who is doing what, and the fact that many characters names are shrouded in mystery, as I’d like, I want to keep most elements a secret. I will say that there are many in the main cast and a good few have some personality traits of some of our main characters in Fast and Furious.

I love a diversity of personalities from a main cast. Put it this way, there are a good dozen in the main cast, both good and evil, and this really plays off Fast and Furious in terms of good. For instance, my good guys look somewhat like The Breakfast Club. No, seriously, it’s that diverse. In my main cast of protagonists, I have the following in no particular order:

A snappish character who can be short with everyone, but also very caring when they want to be.

An egomaniac who is overly competitive and cares more about sports than the conflict at hand early on.

A straight-level character who is typically the calming influence who can be very competitive yet humble at the same time.

A quiet character who only talks when there is absolutely something to say and dislikes doing so, preferring to be in the background.

An overly friendly individual who will likely be the fan favorite since they always see the positive in every single negative.

A playboy who is typically fantasizing about girls and sports, yet he is also very committed to the cause.

A character who is very quietly the fiercest and most strong-willed of the group who gets more and more involved with the conflict.

A complete idiot of a character who goes along with his friends but can be a fierce fighter.

These are the personalities of my main seven, and one of them was created with a little bit of Dom Toretto intertwined with other protagonists in mind. Again, these characters are listed in no particular order and at this time, I’m choosing not to give away any more information about the characters for spoiler purposes, but more will be revealed about them in time.

My next influence I want to talk about is distraction. This is going to be a fun one, because it’s something we see in our everyday lives in the midst of an ever-increasing unstable world. What is going on in our world today that I’m burning on? You’ll find out, but I’ll be trying my hardest to distract you from what is really getting me in the world today. This one will be psychologically challenging to even our sanest individuals!

Influences of Once: Part II

The Harry Potter series may look as if it played a major influence in my works, but I’ll be the first one to say, “Not so fast, my friend!” Sure, from an outsider’s standpoint, it may look as such. I mean we have Inter-Complex (sort of like a House system) rivalries, a fictional sport, an absent-minded yet brilliant mentor to the main characters, and a main setting at a school that happens to be somewhat isolated. Sound familiar? Maybe, but again, I’ll be the first one who will distinguish this as the largest misconception than a mainstream belief that cardio exercise is king when it comes to fat loss for all individuals. In other words, what may be a pre-conceived thought isn’t always what it seems. For that, I will say Harry Potter is indeed an influence, it’s also far, far from it.

Let’s begin with the Complexes. In Harry Potter, students are sorted via their characteristics and personal preferences. In Once, there is no sorting, and it mainly resembles arranging college students into dormitory residence halls, and nothing else. For that, students are literally chosen for their Complex at random and not a single shred of characteristic is unearthed. Sometimes, the region from where one hails plays a role, but nothing else. For that, one can wear the orange and brown of Matthews and the black and gold of Wilson, but there is no difference of characteristics existing. As previously mentioned, there are Complex rivalries, but these rivalries have sprung up over time due to the age of the school, which is a university just like any other university, which in Once had been around for one-hundred and fifty years. Nothing but good old differences between Complexes over the years in Once.

When I say fictional sport, there is absolutely no magical element to the game. We aren’t flying on broomsticks and we have more than seven players on each side of the field here. For another, the sport, known as shotball, has more of a college football influence than anything else. Have you ever watched College Gameday? Think of it more like the Saturday marathon of college football. This is literally all there is to it. In fact, the shotball itself may be more of a knock-off of rugby than any other sport, as it very, very closely resembles rugby.

For starters, I really don’t hit hard on the professors and their personalities. I was initially going to do this, but Once is more than a year at school. In fact, my description of the professors didn’t even fit into the plot, so I found it unnecessary. Once focuses more on what the main characters are doing at any given time outside of the classroom. Also, Summit University is like any other college or university. This is by no means a school of magic, rather it’s post-secondary education with majors and minors one would find anywhere.

Finally, when we get to the school being a main setting, I’d like to ask you, the reader, a question: Once is written during a time of major conflict, unrest, and uncertainty. What are the most vocal places when these things exist? Typically, at any given time in post-nineteenth century American History, colleges and universities are the most outspoken. Just look at the Election of 2016 as a prime example. For that, there was no more appropriate place to set Once than a university, Summit University, named after Summit County, Ohio.

So, what did Harry Potter influence? J.K. Rowling’s writing style was a huge influence. Rowling loves to describe scenes, objects, and action in vivid detail, and I tend to do so myself. Because of this, I’ll rewrite a single scene up to twelve times before I’m satisfied, because I want to catch every single detail that will make the reader feel as if he or she is witnessing the action in the book first-hand. The reader, especially one proficient in a wide array of literature, will spot this. I’ve read Harry Potter dozens of times, and one of the reasons of me doing so was because I absolutely loved the way J.K. Rowling described everything. It made me feel as if I were there.

Furthermore, I wanted to model my character development in an equivalent manner. I wrote an entire series plot, for a series of six books. For that, I wanted to dictate where each character was headed and why they were headed in one way or another. Also, I wanted my main characters and my high-end minor characters to have direction in the role they played in Once. I asked myself where they were going, why they were going there, how were they going to do it, when would they go to where they needed to, and what was going to make them do this. It was the good old who, what, when, where, why, and how in full effect. J.K. Rowling did a tremendous job with direction of her characters, and they slid right into the plot. I’m hoping to achieve the same effect with Once.

There is something I forgot to mention during my initial influence post, and that is I love allegories. For that, Once is an allegory. There is a top story, but there is also a bottom story. In fact, there may be a third story associated with this tale. My goal is to send as many messages as possible, and Once is just that, my way of sending messages to those I cannot reach. This also means multiple audiences can and will benefit from Once. When you read the work, pay attention to everything, from the details of the scene to the character’s attire. There will be more than simply a description.

Influences of Once: Part I

I’ve covered my varying topics of influence in the past, but today I want to get in-depth with my influences. As I’ve mentioned probably a dozen times in the past, my key influences behind the Once series are more than just books. They travel from the movie screen, to an i-Pod, to a television set, to an athletic playing field, to real life events. In my readings, I’ve had influences from the Harry Potter series, historical fiction, and sports-fiction books. On the movie screen, Star Wars and Fast and Furious have influenced several avenues in my work. As for the i-Pod (or youtube), I cannot stress enough how well bands and music groups such as Nightwish, Xandria (may have inspired more than just motivation), DragonForce, Two Steps from Hell, Within Temptation, and Blackmore’s Night are just a handful of influence. Listening to these groups form pictures within my mind unlike any other mainstream group could ever do. As for the television set, College Football Saturday and NFL Sunday played a major, major role despite football being replaced by a fictional sport called shotball (fictional worlds need fictional games), but I’ll get to these influences later. The main television shows that influenced my work are Avatar: The Last Airbender and former ABC hit series Lost. Real life events, both old and new have heavily influenced Once, including the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Vietnam War, the War on Terror, and even the budding North Korean conflict. The last one was probably more of an influence than anything else. Intertwine all of these, and you have Once.

So, I want to break down my categories and talk about just one influence at a time, and what sorts of elements from these influences are present in the work. Today, I want to focus mainly on the television set influences. Why? This is because the influences shown here are abundant, and I mean very abundant. We have two prime influences here: Last Airbender and Lost. I’m going to give away a little bit here, but it won’t have anything to do with the plot. However, you will see the fantasy aspects as they pertain to Once.

Let’s begin with Last Airbender, because there are many influences here regarding the “abilities” of many of my main characters. So, I decided to combine the element control in Last Airbender with what is known as the Stoicheion elements in Greek mythology. In a sense, there are four elements present in the original Last Airbender series whereas in what is known as the Stoicheion elements, there are five (water, earth, fire, wind, and void, yet I capitalize the ‘V’ which is important, but we won’t go there). I’ve always envisioned a series where my main characters knew how to control elements, though they do so a little differently than what is shown in Last Airbender if anyone is familiar with the series. And again, we have more than just element control here, so I’m expanding on what Last Airbender put into fruition. For one, some characters can control what I’ve dubbed the Philosophic elements, which are blood, metal, and wood. Others can travel by controlling certain elements, or have an ability to disappear and reappear somewhere else. Some can invade the minds of others, while other characters can defend their mind from invasion. Some can communicate with the other side, since there is a spirit world involved with this work, while others can even morph between the physical world and the spirit world.

Moving on to Lost, the TV show that literally played with my mind from 2004 to 2010. Wow, is there another show out there involving so many different twists and turns? The very second Lost ended, which coincidentally was roughly the same time I started writing my first drafts of Once, I knew it was going to play a very important role in the series. At the time, Lost was rated among the top ten in many different TV series rankings. The twists, turns, adventure, challenging the laws of physics, and making things not always what they seem had to find a place in Once, and spoiler alert, it has. Mythology, mystery, and everything scattered in between adds fuel to this little fire I call Once, and bear in mind that I love to bring out my own personal M. Night Shyamalan.

That does it for today’s word, and stay tuned, because I’ll be posting a nice little plot synopsis in the coming days. Things will be heating up quickly here, and hopefully we can get this work onto shelves soon enough.