I wrote my first novel when I was 21 years old and Jimmy Carter was president. Sarah’s Curse was an artsy murder mystery bursting with passion and intensity. I shopped it around to various publishers and got no bites, but I wasn’t particularly concerned at the time. It’s usually the second or third novel that hits it big, right? So I went about the business of writing my second book.
At this point in my life, I was in love with J.R.R. Tolkien (and still am), so I decided that my second novel would be a high fantasy. My roiling imagination gave birth to a character named Torg, and he was to be king of a band of desert warriors called Tugars. I made up these names just because they sounded cool.
Needless to say, I was full of zest and excitement — but not necessarily of worldliness or maturity. Over the next several years, every time I sat down to write about Torg I’d get a few pages in and then hit a wall. Each time, my excuse was that I was just too busy. I already was married, raising a family, and working a challenging job at a big newspaper. That’s a lot for any young person to handle, right?
Years turned into decades. As I said, I wrote my first novel at 21. It wasn’t until age 45 that I wrote my second one. And my how things had changed over the course of that time. George Bush now was president, for one thing. I was remarried and had five daughters, the youngest three of whom were adopted from Cambodia. But most importantly, at least as far as my writing career was concerned, I finally had developed the worldiness and maturity to bring Torg and the Tugars to life at the level of quality they deserved. After almost 25 years of starts and stops, The Death Wizard Chronicles was born for real. I wrote the first page of Book 1 in September 2004. Almost 700,000 words later, I wrote the last word of Book 6 in late 2007.
I credit my second (and still-going strong) wife with providing me with the piece of the puzzle that fully awakened my creative bent. She is a Western-convert Buddhist in the Theravada tradition, and she introduced me to her religion. In addition to broadening my world view, the philosophical aspects of Eastern teaching provided excellent fodder for high fantasy. For instance, The Death Wizard Chronicles contains an ancient language that is directly translated from Pali, a dialect closely related to Sanskrit but now extinct as a spoken language. Today, Pali is studied mainly to gain access to Theravada Buddhist scriptures and is frequently chanted in religious rituals. When translated to English, it is beautiful and erotic. Hence, my ancient language was born.
The concept of karma and the art of meditation play key roles in the symbolic aspects of my work. While deep in meditation, Buddhist monks have had recorded heart rates of fewer than 10 beats per minute. My main character takes this to the extreme. In an original twist never before seen in this genre, the Death Wizard is able to enter the realm of death during a “temporary suicide.” Through intense concentrative meditation, Torg stops his heartbeat briefly and feeds on death energy, which provides him with an array of magical powers.
For those of you who are just interested in a fun and entertaining read, don’t let any of this dismay you. Though my series has a lot going on between the lines, it is fast-paced and action-packed, nonetheless. I describe The DW Chronicles as a cross between J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King – Tolkien because it contains many aspects of epic fantasy, King because it’s pretty darn scary and rough. The Death Wizard Chronicles is a classic tale of good versus evil, with lots of action, monsters, and magic. It also contains a compelling love story.
A few of you already might have heard about my series. The Death Wizard Chronicles originally was published by a Canadian publisher back in 2007. Eventually, four of the six books made it to print, but their shelf life was short-lived. The publisher went out of business and all rights were returned to its authors, including me. So the search for a new publisher was on.
The ultimate happy ending occurred when Bell Bridge Books offered me a contract just a few weeks ago and agreed to reprint books 1-4 and print books 5-6 for the first time. I could not be more thrilled!
From Jimmy Carter to George Bush … and now Barack Obama. Even before its first sentence was written, The Death Wizard Chronicles had been on an epic journey.
It’s called growing up.
For you, dear reader (as Stephen King likes to say), the journey begins on page 1. I warn you up front that this trip will test your mettle, literally and figuratively. But never fear … Torg and the Tugars will have your back. They’ve had mine for a quarter of a century.
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