Like many kids, I grew up reading a lot of fantasy. As a high school and college student, I would go to the bookstore and buy three or four books at a time and be back in the bookstore less than a month later. Some of my favorites over the years were Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, Anne McCaffrey, Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan. Honestly though, it didn’t really matter. If the story had magic in it, I would read it.
After college, my appetites began to change. I still enjoyed fantasy but also felt the need to push myself and read books which I perceived to be of greater substance. For a while I read short classics – The Count of Monte Cristo, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Treasure Island, Bramm Stoker’s Dracula. I even went so far as to read Atlas Shrugged and tried my hand at Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, Pride and Prejudice, and War and Peace. Sadly, most of these just didn’t captivate my attention for very long. I craved magic and a fast tempo filled with grand adventure.
I soon returned to fantasy but also kept my eyes out for something else, another genre that would scratch the itch. I had to grow as a person.
That’s when I discovered spiritual fiction. I think I read Siddhartha first. Later I read The Alchemist, The Celestine Prophecy, and of course, Life of Pi. In each of these, I discovered a form of magic but also a grain of truth, something tied to this world that seemed real, even if not strictly so.
The Celestine Prophecy especially changed my life. Writing about the impact that book had on me is a blog all to itself. The short version is that I became open to new experiences, to the notion that energy is all around us, connecting us, and that there is no such thing as coincidence; everything happens for a reason.
Still, the Celestine Prophecy is not a fantasy novel. It lacked for me the classic storyline of a young boy or girl destined for greatness, of an arch-villian trying to conquer a war-torn world, of the noble quest to conquer an ancient evil against all odds. And so, in many regards, I was once again left wanting more than what I got from TCP as well as from other spiritual fiction novels.
And that’s when an idea began to form. How cool would it be to write a book that was spiritual in nature, but fantastical in storyline? How difficult would it be to swap out magic elements for spiritual substitutes? Lose the dragons and dwarves but add instead empathic abilities, enhanced intuition, and power derived from within rather than from witchcraft or wizardry.
By that time, I was already well entrenched in adulthood, with over a decade spent as an insurance broker and business manager. I had absolutely no knowledge of how to write a story (Unlike so many future authors, I never spent any time writing short stories, poems, or even a journal when I was a kid).
I let the idea of blending spiritual fiction and fantasy wash over me and tried to let go. But I’m a problem solver by nature. Even as my conscious mind told me to forget about it, my subconscious continued to hammer away at the issues – you’d have to address the parentage topic (Virtually every great fantasy novel has an element of questionable parentage and/or destiny). What would the lead character be like? What would happen to him or her?
Things took off in earnest when, after several months, I came up with a solution to the parentage dilemma (Sorry, i am not going to mention it here as it might be a spoiler for anyone who reads the book). Next, my subconscious turned to other dire questions: where would the book take place? What about the arch-villian? There’d need to be lots of foreshadowing and the plot would have to be epic. After all, fantasy isn’t really fantasy unless it contains enough breadth and scope to build a world that will endure for eternity in the minds of those who read it.
The list of questions that needed answering went on and on. My mind started spitting out potential solutions faster than I could track them. I had to start writing things down. First they were just notes, then possible scenes. Before long I was writing my first chapter. Writing classes soon followed, followed by a mentorship and lots and lots of rewriting and editing.
That was approximately four years ago. Now, here I am, a few months away from the release of my first book, with the sequel to hopefully follow soon after. Thanks so much for reading about what inspired me to write Bobby Ether And The Academy. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I enjoyed writing it.