Watching the cover for my first book slowly take shape has been very exciting. The three characters shown here, (left to right, River the Flatlander, Major Celice and Professor Blondie) appear more lifelike as the days go by. Once they and their fourth companion are finished, it is on to putting in the leading character, creating the background, and add ing whatever other elements are needed. After organizing them into an appropriate collage, that will capture the essence of Never Heroes.
I find it quite interesting that this most precious work of mine is a fantasy story, as fantasy was not a genre that interested me initially. Even when the Lord of the Rings movies first hit theaters, my reaction was one of general boredom. Fantasy never held that great an influence over me prior to high school, where a friend introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons and the rest is history.
I suppose that is one of the more interesting things about this particular pipe dream. Never Heroes was influenced by just about everything but fantasy. As you can read in the Inspirations and Influences article, this series was inspired by everything from the Indiana Jones movies, to Godzilla, to the Cthulhu Mythos, to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Of classic fantasy literature however, with the works of Tolkien, Rowling and Martin, their influence over the adventures in Haiden is relatively small.
This is partially to blame on the media I consumed as a kid. The genres that had the biggest influence on me as an adolescent boy were action movies, science fiction movies, and horror stories. You take all of those in, you start getting certain ideas about how stories work and what they should be. But I could have done research into the genre once I took this project seriously. That was a conscious decision on my part.
I attended a Q & A one of my old professors was in whilst in college. When asked about the originality of stories, said that “The audience expects not only convention, but innovation. You follow certain genre conventions, but also try and do something fresh with it to make your story stand on its own. Everything has been done, but not in every way.”
Convention and innovation. I had once thought the two were mutually exclusive. The idea of using them both in unison was a new and challenging idea, one I decided to test when writing Never Heroes.
I haven’t read all of the Harry Potter books, only read a few lines of the Middle Earth Saga, and have never laid a finger upon the covers of A Song of Ice and Fire or Dragonlance. It is tragic loss that will be corrected in due time, but only after I am sure this story has found a voice of its own.
While it is fun to be compared to artists you admire, art really is about self expression. I didn’t want to write something that seemed like it was trying to be Tolkien or Rowling. I wanted the world of Tygan to be a world all its own, that took inspiration from just about the last places anyone would expect for a fantasy story. It is a move that will hopefully set it apart from the rest of the genre, and create something that is unmistakably me.
Isn’t that what every story is meant to be?