I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a teenager. When I was a junior in high school, my English teacher read a few of my short stories, then told me I should talk to a published author. At the time, I didn’t know what to think. The idea of becoming an author…a real author…seemed impossible. A pipe dream.
After that, I didn’t write. Not for over a decade. I went to work as a software programmer, then got sick of that and decided to go to college. I pursued my dream of becoming a doctor, getting into medical school, then doing my residency. The better part of two decades passed, and my aspirations to become a writer seemed to die.
Then, at the age of 31, I was nearly finished with my Emergency Medicine residency. On the cusp of becoming a full-fledged physician, I was also preparing for the birth of my first son.
His name was Kyle.
I remember watching my son after his birth, laying there in his crib. It brought me full circle, back to thinking about my childhood. How I’d always wanted to write a fantasy book. I promised myself then that I would write a fantasy trilogy (at minimum!) for any child I brought into this world, with them as the main character.
I’d learned so much about how to be a good person from books. About how to act chivalrously, to give people the benefit of the doubt. To solve problems and follow a code of ethics. Every hero of the many fantasy books I’d read as a kid had acted as one of my guides, showing me - sometimes in ways I hadn’t realized at the time - how to be an adult I could be proud of.
So I began writing Runic Awakening. A story about a boy that was like me growing up. Not particularly confident. Surrounded by people I considered heroes, the real movers and shakers of my world. At first it was going to be a children’s book.
You see, at the same time as I was writing the Runic series, I separated from my ex-wife. Crushed by the thought of not being able to see Kyle every day, the story took a darker, more adult turn in the second half. I also started thinking about the father figures in my life…and those in my son’s. The Runic series became a story about father figures, and their importance in a boy’s life. In the book, Kyle’s new stepfather was a father figure, as was Kalibar, and Darius. And even the Dead Man. Each represented a different type of father. The permissive father, the nurturing father. The tough father who forced Kyle to sink or swim. The cruel, manipulative father who Kyle wanted desperately to please.
So it was that the first half of the book was a lighthearted children’s book, and in the second half, there was murder, betrayal, and heartache. After completing the first draft, I sent it out to my oldest brother.
In my brother’s words, it was “not good.”
I rewrote the book completely, deciding to write the first half in the same vein as the second. A darker story emerged, more adult…but still with Kyle as a child. Thus was born a sharp contrast between the innocence and incompetence of the main character, and the adult nature of the rest of the book. The supporting cast of the book became the heroes, with Kyle looking up to - and hoping one day to become - one of them.
Eight rewrites later, I considered the book completed…and promptly wrote the second book. And the third.
I met my current wife then, and settled down into a new life. Kyle grew older, and the trilogy I’d written faded into the background of my life. Then, nearly five years after beginning the series - and over a year of sitting on all of them - my wife read Runic Awakening. With her input, I made some more changes, and completely rewrote the story one last time - from the first page to the last - to its current form.
She insisted that I publish the book.
I’d never really meant for the series to be read by the public. They were my stories, with characters I adored. I hadn’t written them with any consideration as to public demand, or a target audience. I didn’t try to follow too many conventions of fantasy novels. They were written for fun, not for publishing to the world.
Despite this, I began to research how to self-publish. Months of reading - and making mistake after mistake - I published Runic Awakening.
At the time, I hoped fervently that one or two people would read it…and that maybe - just maybe - one of them might enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. The first month, it sold 67 copies. The second, 667…in addition to a half-million pages read on Kindle Unlimited. The third month, 687 ebooks and 760,000 pages read.
Needless to say, I was flummoxed.
You see, I never expected more than a few people to read the book. It was a passion project, not for public consumption. But as I published Runic Revelation two months after Runic Awakening - and they began selling over a thousand ebooks and over a million Kindle Unlimited pages a month - I realized that there were other people out there like me. People who enjoyed the characters I’d come to love, and the stories I’d come to cherish. By sharing these stories, other were able to share in my joy.
The idea that other people would carry these stories with them, and maybe - just maybe - that someone who read them might one day be inspired to write a story of their own, just as I was inspired by the fantasy authors before me - was immensely gratifying.
Having written four more books since, I’ve come to realize how lucky I was to have so many readers take a chance in reading the Runic series. I know full-well that I had no idea what I was doing as an author at the time…and that I still have a lot to learn. You, my readers, have taught me with your feedback, showing me both what I’ve done right, and how I can improve my craft.
I’m on my third fantasy series now, and my eighth book overall. Writing a new set of stories for a child I have yet to meet. I still have a great deal to learn, and I look forward to the process. I feel lucky that the fruits of my hobby - stories that I wrote for myself and my children - have been enjoyed by others. And if I inspire just one of my readers to do as I did - to write a book - then that’ll be the icing on the cake.
I never thought I’d be a published author. It’d always been a dream. If you feel the same way, I encourage you to just start writing. Put words to the page. Tell a story. Put yourself out there and see what happens. Because chances are, your story is something that someone else will want to read.
If I did it, you can do it too.