What made you want to write books?
I’ve been writing original content for over 20 years but they were always in the form of short stories, prose-style poems, song lyrics, or for character development purposes. I never actually tried my hand at writing an actual book. For years, I had a story in my head that I wanted to get out and figured that I would go ahead and start putting it to paper. I never had any intention of publishing it but after a few people read what I had written, they encouraged me to make an actual book out of it, so I did. With that, my first book series, Final Hope was born.
You say series but there are only two volumes of Final Hope. Why?
I never intended to publish it at first. I simply had a story in my head that had a beginning and an end. I had some major plot points but nothing in between. A lot of what was written in Final Hope was written on the fly as I filled in the blanks and moved from plot point to plot point. Honestly, Final Hope could have been a three-volume series but I made a lot of mistakes.
What kind of mistakes?
For a question containing three words and a preposition, that’s a pretty loaded question.
The first mistake (and probably biggest one) was going WAY over the limit of what a typical light novel is supposed to be. They are usually 180-200 pages in length so imagine my joy when I finished Vol. 1 of Final Hope at 192 pages! When I went to put together the book, I realized it was 192 pages of 8 1/2 x 11 paper… not the 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 that the book would be in so the book ended up at 320 pages instead.
I also made the mistake of not shopping around for an artist. I was just so excited to have finished writing my first book that I wanted to shove it out in the world and let the masses enjoy what I had written! I guess shoving it out there as fast as possible was another mistake because I didn’t take the time to market it and build up any hype.
I also made the mistake of not looking into self-publishing options and did the first run of my book through a local printer and ended up paying through the nose to have copies of them made.
All of these were valuable life lessons that I applied to Vol. 2 of Final Hope and carried those lessons forward into A.R. Dragonfly. That’s why volume two of Final Hope looks much thinner in comparison to volume one. Despite all of the flaws, I’m still really proud of it, though!
What inspired Final Hope?
Time travel and advanced A.I. are my two favorite genres of science fiction. I wanted to craft a story utilizing those genres. Also, Steins;Gate was (and currently still is) my all-time favorite anime (sorry D.Gray-man) and that heavily inspired me to write a time travel-like story. I’m glad I didn’t abandon the story like I originally planned.
Well, those are interesting subjec- Wait… abandoned?
Yeah. The idea for Final Hope came to me around 2014. After mulling it over for a year and a half, I began writing Final Hope in November 2015, oblivious to something that was going air in January of 2016 called Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED). I started watching the anime and my heart sank when the show had a very similar premise to the story I was writing. Not only did it have a similar premise but I felt the show pulled my story off better.
Talk about a blow to your pride and ego.
I didn’t want to continue. Not only was I demoralized from watching the show and seeing the similarities, but I was also afraid that people would think I was just copying someone else’s work. That concern was what drove me to stop writing my book for eight months. It wasn’t until my friends pulled me out of that funk and convinced me to finish it. In the end, Final Hope had its own unique flavor to it and didn’t end up being a copy of ERASED after all.
So why a new series?
Once I published two books, I kind of got hooked. I wanted to publish more and I had an idea for another story. Therefore, A.R. Dragonfly was born.
What is A.R. Dragonfly like? And please don’t copy/paste the description from your Amazon listing again.
Amber Ryann is the #1 ranked player in…
Oh DON’T copy. Right.
In short, A.R. Dragonfly is a slice-of-life romance story that’s heavily wrapped around geek culture references, video games, and e-Sports. Going from science fiction murder mystery to slice-of-life romance is a huge genre shift but I wasn’t jumping into this series blind. I’ve had years of practice writing Amber as a character all thanks to handling her in eWrestling feds.
eWrestling feds? What’s that?
So I’m a fan of pro-wrestling and when it was really popular back in the late 90’s, the internet began to become populated with eWrestling feds… in other words, places you can go and role play as if you were a wrestler. There are many types of eWrestling feds that can be broken down into two main types: Real or Original. Real feds allowed you to take control of wrestlers that exist in the real world and role play as them. Original feds had you create your own character. I opted for Original.
No matter what you pick, there are two choices: RP feds or Angle feds. RP feds usually have you write out role plays. Match winners are determined by whoever had the best roleplay. These feds were unpredictable and very dynamic. Angle feds allowed you to pre-construct stories with other people in the fed. You and your “angle partner” for a story arc would then write out all segments and matches. Rather than a competition simulation, the events read and felt like actual tv shows. I opted for Angle feds.
Amber Ryann was one of my characters and she’s not that much different in the book than she was as an eWrestling character.
Will she wrestle in your book?
Did you steal anything from eWrestling for the book?
Steal is such an ugly term. I prefer creatively acquired but no. I did pay homage to eWrestling though. The Legacy of Champions tournament referenced in volume one and was the focal point of volume two was the name of the eWrestling fed Amber was a part of.
How did you come up with Blaze Auras?
Funnily enough, I dreamt it. I must have eaten some bad juju or something before bed because I never remember my dreams in great detail but I ended up dreaming about a game where you could pull off combos while switching auras, giving you different moves depending on what color aura you were in. It was a knee-jerk reaction style game and I thought it was a cool idea. At the time, I was struggling to come up with a game that Amber was good at playing but then it just came to me in that dream. I made sure to write down every detail I could remember and I expanded on it from there.
It’s a semi-serious goal of mine to get that made into a real game one day. I wonder if there’s anyone out there that’s up for the challenge?
Are you going to expand on Blaze Auras in the future?
I already am. With each volume, there’s a short bonus chapter called History of Nara. Nara is the name of the world Blaze Auras takes place in so I’m building the lore of the game through those bonus chapters. That story won’t last forever so I figured that once it’s all said and done that I would do a Blaze Auras instruction book/strategy guide as bonus content in a future volume.
What the hell is an instruction book?
It’s those things that used to come with video games. You know, before they stuck a piece of paper in there and told you to go to a website. Hell, some games I buy these days completely skip the paper! Instruction books were awesome. They gave you the controls, game lore, character bios, and even had a notes section for you to write in! Bring back instruction books you cheap bastards!
Ahem. Next question?
Is A.R. Dragonfly going to end after two volumes as well?
I mean NO! Hell no!
Unlike Final Hope, I actually don’t have an ending in mind for A.R. Dragonfly (which is going to make this answer really awkward once the series does eventually end). Final Hope was me testing the waters. Even though I love the series with all my heart (hell, I have all of its characters framed and hanging on my wall), I wouldn’t say I was fully serious with it. A.R. Dragonfly is me being fully serious. I have a slow burn story in mind and AT LEAST six volumes worth of content planned. I don’t know how it will end as of now but I want this to be about the journey more than anything. When I feel I can’t take the journey any further, I’ll think about how it will end.
UPDATE 9/6/19: Twelve. A.R. Dragonfly will end on Volume 12. Didn’t I say that this answer was going to be really awkward once I came up with the ending? Actually, I know for a fact I said it because it’s right up there in the paragraph above in black and white! I didn’t change that answer and even if I did, so what? This is my site! (But seriously, I didn’t change the answer! PUT DOWN THE INTERNET PITCHFORK!)
What does A.R. Dragonfly even mean?
Well, the main character’s name is Amber Ryann so her initials are A.R. The character she plays in Blaze Auras is Dragonfly. Got enough clues there, buckeroo? It’s just like Final Hope is the English translation of the main character, Mikomi Saigo’s name. Mikomi = chance/hope, Saigo = last/final.
Oh! That’s clever!
Not really, but thanks for the compliment.
Do you have anything in mind to write about after A.R. Dragonfly ends?
Yes, I do! I actually have two stories in mind!
Shadow Wing The Zero Eclipse – In both Final Hope and A.R. Dragonfly, this title is referenced many times. One of my dreams was to make an RPG video game. This was about a realm at peace when suddenly, demons invade. After Staccato’s father was slain by demons, he joins the ranks of King Darrow’s royal army, making his way up to the rank of Freelance Knight… a Knight highly skilled to the point where he can carry out missions on his own that would normally take an entire platoon! He got to this rank so he could search for the demon that killed his father. He meets a mysterious person named Mattock on his journey and embarks on a quest to find the Shadow Wing sword… a sword forged in the flames of hell and the light of heaven. It has the power to change the world based on the heart of the one who wields it. (Answer updated because Shadow Wing’s name has changed to The Zero Eclipse… I’m starting to think I should just do a whole new Q&A)
Soul – This is a paranormal story about a boy named Jakob who can sense the souls of others. When I say sense the souls of others, I’m not talking about the dead… I’m talking about people still alive and kicking. Using this ability, he tries to discover things about life and, eventually, love but when he looks inside of his own soul, things begin to get a bit dark.
Are you getting tired of answering questions?
It is getting a bit tiresome.
Last question then. If someone wants to know something that wasn’t asked here, what can they do?
They can click on the Contact page and send me a question. They can even request review copies of Final Hope and A.R. Dragonfly if they’re part of the media or run a blog site! They can even send me feedback (both positive and negative) if they choose to do so! They can even ask me to come on their podcast as a guest and help me promote my books!!! (wink wink nudge nudge) Who knew a simple internet form had so many useful purposes!?