In my experience as an author there are always the same set of questions that we seem to get asked, whether it is at an interview, a book launch, from friends or from family. One of the most frequent questions is how I got started. What set me on the path to wanting to become an author? Did I always want to write?
The answer to that goes way back from before I first took that pen in 2002 and started writing the history of Celenic Earth. I was an eager writer in school, so much so that I could not always keep to the limit imposed by the assignments. I hardly enjoyed the setwork homework, though, working through other people’s books and poems and giving my opinions on why they wrote the way they did: I guess I will never make a good book critic. I also found that writing letters as part of the task or exam rather boring. Yet, give me free reign on a writing a poem or essay in the realm of fiction or fantasy, and you could not stop me. This brings to mind a time in high school where an English teacher gave us limitless words on a fiction essay, any genre we want – I’m really sorry Mr Prince that it ended up being 20 pages, but thanks for an awesome review!
And that was only the work that I was required to write – if you saw me sitting quietly by myself in class not bonding with the others, writing on a parchment, I was probably writing a poem. Or if you saw me perchance getting excited with some other kid in class over a piece of paper, we were probably collaborating on a song he was putting together for his dreams of becoming a singer, or a love poem to a dear one for Valentine’s day. If you thought I was taking really long to finish my exam or wondering why I was writing on the back of the matric exam question paper, it was because I finished the exam really early and filled the remaining time by writing a Shakespearean sonnet.
Those poems became a semi-diary for me, my way of dealing with the emotional upheavals of teen-hood and the things that were happening in my life. It is also a time in my life when Shadowolf was born (not the story, but the “persona”), but more on that another day. I still have the poems that were written through various stages of my life for the next ten years, in various files and books stored away safely – maybe one day I will find the guts to type all 536 out and have them published.
I digress… I am not sure what set me on the path of becoming an author, as it always just seemed to be a part of me. Very few things in life make me feel as fulfilled as I do when I am writing and creating through the art of words. What helps is my ability to create scenes visually in my mind automatically, whether you are speaking to me about a scene, or if I am reading it, or if I am creating it myself. I have created vast worlds in daydreams and night dreams. Which is where my love of fantasy comes along. When reading through the many fantasy novels in school, I was always mentally in the books, visualising the settings so intensely that I felt that they were right before my eyes. This ability came very much in hand when creating Celenic Earth… I didn’t always have to rely on the map I had created to remind me where locations were – Celenic Earth was very real to me as this earth we live in. Name me a creature in my novels, any one of them, and I can give you a very vivid description of them because I have created them in my visual mind.
The fantasy I had available to me in school and adolescent years were epic (literately and figuratively) and consisted of:
- “The Lord of the Rings” (JRR Tolkien),
- “The Rift War Saga” (Raymond E Feist),
- “The Armageddon Musical” (Robert Rankin),
- “The Harper Hall Trilogy” (Anne McCaffrey) – what I called the Dragon Singer series,
- “The Spellsinger” series (Alan Dean Foster),
- “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” (Stephen R Donaldson),
- “The Vampire Chronicles” (Anne Rice), and
- “The Death Gate Cycle” (Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman)
Of course, there were many other books that I read at that time, but the above were the most prominent in developing my mind towards fantasy and my ability to visualise alien settings. In my mid-twenties when I was busy with “The Windfarer” and having no motivation to continue, JK Rowling would inspire me to return to writing after I read “Order of the Phoenix” as my first induction into the Harry Potter series. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle would be the two major philosophical and spiritual influences in my writing.
Looking at my passion for writing, my gift for creating visual settings and the above fantasy literature it is not hard to trace how my desire for writing the Celenic Earth Chronicles came about. Did all this create my passion towards become an author – who knows, maybe I was born one? It could be traced back to when I was 10 years old and playing in the backyard with my cousin, creating fantastic stories where the hero saves the damsel in distress. When thinking about the possible later times of my life, I always envisage me sitting on a chair by the fireplace, reading tales of fantasy to my grandchildren with the hopes that they fall inlove with it as much as I have.
So if we ever meet or I am asked on camera why I wanted to become an author, you may simply hear “because I have loved writing from a young age”, as the above is so much simpler to put into text that have a short discussion about. This type of question is best left for an hour talk over coffee, as for me personally it is just not that simple as a one-liner.
The Count of Celenic Earth