Most devoted gamers remember their first, truly awe-inspiring, epic fantasy gaming experience. When was yours? Were you staring dumbfounded at the screen as Navi zoomed through the Kokiri Forest to deliver the Great Deku Tree’s summons? Were you hopping aboard a whale in Paper Mario while Professor Kolorado exclaims his incredulity at riding a giant tuna? Maybe you were squealing (like my best friend, Sarah, would most likely do) over the cuteness of Final Fantasy’s moguls.
Mine was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and I vividly recall those wondrous, child-hood days. In fact, that game inspired many of my books and stories, especially from the Legends of Surprisers series. Zelda inspired me to create my concept of "weaving" until I have now composed a vast, twenty-seven book series; all twenty-seven books intertwine in some way, shape, or form. I always loved whenever Link grew up and I would travel around Hyrule and all of a sudden would exclaim to myself, "Oh, hey, there's such-and-such from that one place!" I treasured the deep intricacies of how characters pop in and out; much of this is seen in Surprisers.
I first saw Ocarina while my mom and I visited a friend of the family. The friend's son, Kevin, was having a birthday party. He and a slue of fourteen-year-old boys piled into his room, embarking on some secret venture. Kevin and I were friends, like brother and sister really, and I itched with curiosity to know what was going on. Finally, my mom let me venture back to his room. From that moment, I was captivated...
I witnessed first-hand the Great Deku Tree, the meeting of Zelda, the creation of Hyrule—you name it, it ensnared me. It was the first video game I saw that was 3D, possessed a deep story line, incorporated imaginative, distinct characters I could interact with—so many firsts! Upon returning home, I created a comic in commemoration of the experience.
In the years to follow, I snatched a few more “tastes” of Zelda, if you will, while visiting Kevin. A partial glimpse of the ice cavern. Getting to play from the start on my own and wander around aimlessly in search for the Kokiri sword; I never found the thing, but thankfully, Kevin came to my rescue—afterwards he shut off the game; I don’t think I ever quite got over not being able to storm the Great Deku Tree that day. Another opportunity, he allowed me to ride around Hyrule on Epona. I made the unwise decision of visiting the Gerudo Fortress; the thieves cast me in prison, and I started panicking, afraid Kevin might not be able to escape. Would he have to turn off the game without saving some of his progress just to get out? Nope, proved as simple as using the hookshot to grapple his way outside.
About four years later, I hadn't forgotten Zelda. Now, a lot of kids want things on a whim, and then the whim passes. I was a strange child. I'm still the kind of person who, when I want something, I often REALLY want it and will work to obtain it.
Well, one day, Mom and I were browsing in wal-mart, and I see Ocarina in the case; I believe the N64 system was on sale at this point. As I'm looking, Mom says something bizarre like, "You know, if you want a new video system, we can get you one."
My mind echoes over and over, "Did she really just say that?" I'm totally stunned speechless and walk around the store in a daze.
But long story short, I got my N64 and Ocarina. It was a lot of money for us, but it was well worth it, especially considering all the inspiration it has since spawned! And for me, it improved upon my Super Nintendo by providing me with another first: no continuous dying! I could play this game without dying every two seconds, which was great. Truth be told, I still don’t possess a skill for older games, though I’ve been told this is because of impatience rather than inability.
Ah, the memories which followed those days! I was home schooling at the time, and Mom worked in a small office, often by herself. I would pack up my little T.V., game system, and game and play for hours in the office. I was also ever-accompanied by my trusty guide book; it never left my side that first play-through. Not only was I unused to playing a game which involved Zelda-type puzzles, but I didn’t want to waste my time wandering aimlessly around dungeons. I wanted to get to the story and the characters. Even today, I consider playing a good video game like playing a good book; both story-line, world, and characters must be intricate, or my interest is not likely peeked.
What memories linger amongst my favorite during those days, and how did their inspirations leak into my writing?
Well, the classics include the story of Hyrule’s Creation, meeting Zelda, and learning all the songs—especially those where link plays a duet with Sheik; the combination of harp and ocarina is subtly stunning. These simple but deep, emotional pieces—such as the soothing balm of the “Serenade of Water”—again helped stir in me a desire to include magical songs in my own stories. A later example of this is the Gailean Quartet; musical magic plays a huge role throughout each book in this, my favorite, series.
In fact, the very concept of the story, the “Song of Healing” reflects Zelda-inspired themes. It follows the journey of a young girl on a quest to save her people, and along the way, she befriends and assists many through playing songs she composes on her lyre. Zelda fans will recognize such a link to both Ocarina and Majora’s Mask.
Zelda also helped me develop a love for quirky, unique characters, from my Sallie Elves, spawned from the noble, mysterious Zoras, to the three great fairy sisters who protect the seven Surpriser kingdoms, to all of the smaller characters who might only be seen once or twice yet still reflect exclusive personalities—such as the male in “The Espial” who does a victory dance when the two girls successfully make their barter for loaves of bread; this is accompanied by the victory song of, “Rumble, ladies, rumble—get those loaves!” Even the Fury thieves stem from Zelda, as evident in their dress.
Specific scenes also inspired scenes in my own writings; note the opening scene of the Surprisers series, as depicted by the picture. The use of great, life-sized fairies and the passing down of legends also wove its way into the series, as did main characters speaking to quirky townsfolk with little other purpose than to amuse and humor the reader and add character to the city or town in which the characters reside.
Frightening memories accompanied those early days as well. I remember the horror of getting caught just once by a redead. I couldn't help staring while the life was sucked from me—it was a traumatizing moment. So was the time a wallmaster snatched me...To this day, I've ensured neither of those things ever happened again! While horror and tales of the undead do not play as big a part in my writing, they too have found their place amongst the Amielian Legacy.
But some of my greatest Zelda moments occurred in the Gerudo Fortress and Spirit Temple, my favorite hang-outs. Readers of the Hero Chronicles will recognize the references to Zelda via my crystal blade and the shield Toby uses in Heroes Reunited. Again, the Gerudo thieves are alluded to in the Surprisers series but also are reflected in the Aquanites from the Gailean Quartet and even the Neptunites from the Legend of Loz and Zephyr’s Islands. And, to let you in on a secret, even the kingdom of Loz is named in honor of Zelda. It is an acronym for “Legend of Zelda” since Loz was also greatly inspired by Zelda. This is much how Johann David Wyss accredited his inspiration from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe by naming his book Swiss Family Robinson.
Well, so there you have it, my grand journey to the realm of Hyrule—and then to the worlds of Loz, Hyloria, and the Surpriser kingdoms. But that's another story. What's yours?