The Next Big Thing

I was quite honored to be tagged by Jackie Hames at The Spidereen Frigate for a blog chain called “The Next Big Thing,” which gives readers a snapshot of your own work-in-progress.

I’ll give it my best shot. Hope you enjoy!

What is the Working Title of Your Book?

The Wolfglen Legacy: Revived

Where Did Your Idea for the Book Come From?

I started drawing maps in 2004 of a fantasy world I wanted to create, and that eventually morphed into a couple of projects, including The Wolfglen Legacy. After watching a lot of movies like the Star Wars prequels, Lord of the Rings, and Pirates of the Caribbean, I wanted to tell a big, adventurous, save-the-world kind of story. Plus, I wanted to try giving new(ish) versions of various fantasy cliches like elves, dragons, wizards, dark lords, and see if I could set them up in a somewhat original framework.

What Genre Does Your Book Fall Under?

Primarily epic fantasy, with some tones of dark fantasy, adventure fantasy, and a dash of science fiction.

If Your Book Became a Movie, Which Actors Would You Pick?

I have a large cast in mind for this

Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian) as Morent Wolfglen. He’d do a good job of looking ferocious and desperate, playing the conflicted wizard who is trying to save his family while keeping his conscience intact.

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Jennifer Lawrence would be terrific to play Princess Sathra Wolfglen. She excelled as Mystique and Katniss Everdeen, and I’d like to see her play the role of a vulnerable young woman who learns how to become stronger and more in control.

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Andrew Garfield really impressed me with his interpretation of Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man, so I wouldn’t mind seeing him in the role of Josh Kingston, a young man from another time who is awakened from stasis into a distant future ruled by magic and wars, and is catapulted into one of the most dangerous conflicts Earth has ever faced, all while trying to learn his new surroundings and run from mistakes and tragedy in his past.

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Those are the three main characters. But I did have a couple of others in mind. I tend to dream big.

Christian Bale as King Rishtal Wolfglen, brother to Morent and father to Sathra.

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Rachel Weisz as Empress Kilfira Lundill, an ally of the Wolfglen family.

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Sam Neill as General Streynel Halthrin, and David Tennant as Myrickin Schtahl, both of them people who have different goals than everyone thinks they do.

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Tennant

Okay, I could go on, but I think that’s enough of my pipe dream. For now. 🙂

What is Your Book’s One-Sentence Synopsis?

A young man outrunning his past, a princess trying to go on after her mother’s death, and a wizard desperate to save his family all find themselves caught up in a secret war against their country, driven by an ancient supernatural enemy.

Will Your Book be Self-Published or Represented By an Agency?

I’m definitely going to try traditional publishing first. More than that, I want to see how high I can go with this series. If Random House or Tor or HarperCollins picks it up, terrific! If not, that’s perfectly okay. I still want to try it because I don’t want to spend my days wondering how far up the publishing ladder it could have gone.

How Long Did it Take You to Write the First Draft?

After writing off and on while trying to balance school and work with my writing goals, it took me about five years to finally have a complete first draft. Now that I’m graduated, though, it won’t take nearly as long to write the series’s next book (there will be four Wolfglen books in total).

What Other Books in Your Genre Would You Compare Your Novel To?

Hmm. Kind of stumped on this one. Maybe it would be a good fit for readers of Brandon Sanderson (Elantris, Mistborn, the latest Wheel of Time books), James Gurney (Dinotopia), Christopher Paolini (The Inheritance Cycle), George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones), and Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game).

Who or What Inspired You To Write This Book?

In December 2003, as I left the theater after watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, I was blown away by the story I had just witnessed. Given the staggering quality of Peter Jackson’s trilogy and how it affected my emotions and imagination, I knew one thing for certain stepping out of that theater: I wanted to be a fantasy writer.

From there I pieced together bits of worldbuilding, character development, and the clockwork of a plot, and the most developed result is The Wolfglen Legacy.

What Else Might Pique a Reader’s Interest in Your Book?

Possibly the ways I have revamped given fantasy cliches (elves with flintlocks instead of bows, a villain driven by his conscience instead of evil for its own sake, etc.).

Moral complexity is one of the big goals I have in mind for this series. I am striving to get a good balance between the black-and-white conflict in Harry Potter, and the frustrating ambiguity in Game of Thrones.

Dinosaurs join the book’s dragons to give my world plenty of big scaly beasties. When was the last time you saw a Triceratops in a fantasy novel? Seriously, they could instantly improve a lot of books.

And I am working hard to make the story satisfying on all fronts, not only attractive for its worldbuilding or characters or descriptions.

Tagging

To keep this chain going, I’d like to tag four of the coolest writers I know: Janden Daniel HaleRob “The Brain Hamster” Killam, Aaron Ritchey, and Courtney Schafer. All are terrific storytellers, and I recommend you check them out right away.

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“Alcatraz” – A Letter of Recommendation

I am about to go on an anti-rant, so forgive me if I sound like a hyper fanboy. That’s because I am one.

Once in a while, you find one of those television shows that is blessed with just the right casting, concept, and a whole lot of intrigue that glues you to the seat. More than that, the storytelling is so engaging that you reliably (and willingly) tune in every week.

What is it with J.J. Abrams and enigmatic islands? The show's still awesome, though.

For me, that show has been Alcatraz on Fox. After the decline of the (in my opinion) vastly underappreciated Terra Nova, this new show from J.J. Abrams might be just the thing for me to get my Fox sci-fi kicks. I hope and pray that it sticks around at least for another couple of seasons.

So, most of you have either watched the show at least once, or have seen its considerable hype. But just in case you didn’t, it involves the inmates and guards mysteriously vanishing from Alcatraz Island in 1963. The US government covers it up and fabricates stories of how everyone was transferred away from the prison due to unsafe living conditions. In the present day, the inmates are returning without having aged a day. As if this wasn’t odd enough, the time-traveling jailbirds seem quite comfortable in 2012, and go right back to committing the same crimes they were arrested for. The show follows government agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill), tough-as-nails cop Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), and Dr. Diego Soto, an Alcatraz historian/comics store owner with two PhDs (Jorge Garcia – seriously, whoever created that character was a genius). The three of them simultaneously track down the inmates and piece together the growing mystery surrounding Alcatraz.

Where has this show been all my life? It has Dr. Alan Grant and Hurley from Lost, hunting down time-traveling killers from America’s most infamous prison. What’s not to love about that idea? They really did have me at “hello.”

And for the most part, the show totally works and lives up to the potential of that concept. What we have seen in the first season is part cop procedural, part science fiction, part mystery. We get a breakneck introduction to the major characters, blended with a hunt for the criminals as they trickle into the present day one by one, and substantial flashbacks to the prison’s heyday in the early ’60s. I won’t give too many details, to ruin the joy of experiencing Alcatraz. If you haven’t bothered seeing the show yet, please. Get off my blog. Go find it on Hulu or somewhere. Forget about me, and watch it. Now.

Of course, like any show still finding its sea legs, there are a few kinks. Rebecca is pretty much a one-dimensional cop, even though Jones plays the part very convincingly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I just hope in the second season she will get more chances to grow and develop more of a personality. And sometimes the flashbacks to Alcatraz when it was still in use can be a little long, even if the situations and characters they show are utterly fascinating.

Overall, though, this is one show that has not even finished its first season, and already it has earned my loyalty. The storytelling is unique and generally fast-paced, Jorge Garcia and Sam Neill are always a delight to watch, and bit by bit the mystery is getting revealed. Unlike Lost. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that show too, but there were too many shocking “surprise!” moments that never got answered. As poignant as the finale was, I still wanted to know what was up with that freaking island.

In any case, Abrams has given us a strong series with tons of life, soul, and potential. Fox, please don’t cancel this one for a couple of years. The show is too good for that treatment. Besides, the opening music gives me chills every single time I hear it.