Greetings Middle-earthings! Today, we move from the world of art and the building of Hobbit holes to the world of writing, of creating characters and worlds. Today, we travel into a realm of fear, a place inhabited by one of the fiercest creatures of the wild, join me travelers for a trip into The Wolf’s Den.
Viking: It doesn’t take long on your site to realize that you are a writer. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
T.S. Wolf: I’ve been a writer since I was 16. What originally got me started was how I believe many people discover their passion, boredom. It was early into my summer vacation and I had successfully beaten every video game in the house at least 5 times. I spent the entire day in a stupor of boredom, wondering how I was going to possibly entertain myself for another two months.
It was almost 2 a.m. when I found myself sitting in front of my computer at an utter loss of what to do. On what seemed at the time a whim, I opened a Word document and simply stared at it. After a few moments, again it seemed, on a whim, I typed four words that would lead to the start of my writing career:
”My name is Leon.”
While I started writing at 16, however, it wasn’t until my Senior year in High School after turning 18, that I actually took up what I consider to be actual book writing challenges. As was tradition for my High School, students were allowed to pick their subjects and electives the year prior. I laughed when my mom and sister both recommended I take a Creative Writing class instead of a more traditional English class for my last year in college but in the end their persistence paid off and I signed up for it.
At first, the class didn’t seem different from any of the honors classes I had taken thus far. We spent the first few weeks going over all the standards of writing (grammar, sentence structure, etc) and when we received our first writing assignment, a poem, I took it up with little interest. Despite taking honors classes in the past, my grammar skills were (and still are to a degree) atrocious. I finished the project and turned it in with few expectations.
What I did not expect was to get a document covered with red marks and corrections that still proudly held a ”10/10” on the top, along with a paragraph of hand-written praise. When I went to the teacher’s desk and asked her why I had received full credit when I had obviously done such a poor job grammatically, she told me that my score reflected the amount of creativity she had seen in the poem, not how it was written. It was that one assignment that provided the spark needed for me to build and broaden my creativity, so that after graduating I could take on the challenge of writing a book…and succeeding.
Viking: Since you are here on the network, it is a fair bet that Tolkien is an influence. Who else do you draw on for inspiration? Do you draw from outside of the world of literature at all?
T.S. Wolf: Surprisingly, I actually draw inspiration, not from other writers, but from different things instead. As much as this will probably get me burned at the stake, I have never actually managed to read a Tolkien book all the way through before. While his ideas, characters, and settings sound and are brilliant, the problem I always run into when I try to read his writing is that the amount of time he devotes to describing even a single tree in a forest is so long that I begin to lose focus and interest. While I respect Tolkien for what he has done for the fantasy writing world, I can tell from what I’ve read that the two of us are polar opposites in how we write.
If the one I honorably refer to as ”The Grandfather of Fantasy” wasn’t able to influence me, then it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the modern writers of our day and age haven’t been able to do so either. Instead of looking to other people’s works for inspiration and ideas, I focus on components of the outside world. Nature and music are my two greatest inspirations. Whenever I write I always play music and depending on the scene in question will change what songs I listen to. Delving into one’s fantasy world can be difficult, and remaining there long enough to decipher the information needed to write is even more so. Music however helps me with the immersion process and can even shape what I write and how I write it. My surroundings also play a huge part on how well I become immersed in what I do. After all, when one is at a loss of what to write and pauses to look at his surroundings it’s better to be outside surrounded by the trees and the gentle whispering of the wind passing through the grass than to be in a stuffy office room.
Viking: One of your most interesting posts was on the difference between a writer and an author. Could you elaborate on that?
T.S. Wolf: When someone first takes up writing, it isn’t typically with the mindset of making it anything more than a hobby. These people are your writers: those who write for their themselves and for their own enjoyment. An Author, however, is someone who hears the call of a muse and instead of hoarding the story to himself or just for his friends, he (or she) instead offers it out for the entire world to read. Whereas a writer may write hundreds of stories yet none of them will ever be viewed by others, an Author is one who has taken up the duty of composing a story, not for himself, but for the enjoyment of others as well. Another difference is that Authors are more tenacious and, for lack of a better word, stubborn when it comes to their writing. When I was still a writer, I would get frustrated and sometimes not write for weeks, even months. I knew I had become an Author when, after running into writer’s block for the third time that day alone, I closed the document and none too gracefully stormed out of my room and went for a walk. Half an hour later, armed with several cans of green tea I immediately sat back down and went back to trying to write. Whereas a writer will submit, an Author, no matter how angry his story makes him always ends up coming back with an apology and a promise to do better.
Viking: As a fantasy writer, do you have any thoughts on why the genre has become so popular in recent years? Or to put it another way, why have things like The Lord of the Rings, Narnia and Harry Potter been able to find such wide audiences?
T.S. Wolf: I believe that fantasy has been booming as of late because of what a book’s aim is. When one sits down to read, it is so they can temporarily separate themselves from their own world and instead travel into the time and place of another. Fantasy does an especially good job of this because the worlds of a fantasy book are so magical, so beautiful, that one can easily be absorbed into its pages and forget about the issues of every day life. If well written, a reader will find themselves riding upon the back of a jurdra flying high over the Ash Field of Idiotira instead of simply reading about it. Fantasy, also is such a broad and encompassing genre that I think a lot of books just end up falling into it by accident. Fantasy after all, is whatever the imagination can conquer. That’s a large topic area.
As far as why books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Narnia are finding such large fan bases, I fear that it has to do with the lack of inspiration that can be found with the fantasy writers of today. If one was to go to their local book store and look at the fantasy section, I wouldn’t be surprised if half or more of the books on display there contained elements from a book that sold well in the past (elves, dwarves, orcs, trolls, werewolves, vampires, etc). Writers today seem to have no greater motivation than to grasp at the successful formulas of writers past in the hopes of cashing in on the most recent fantasy trend. With this lack of innovation, it’s no small wonder that original stories naturally seize the interest of readers. This is why whenever a unique idea does emerge, it takes the readers by storm.
Viking: I understand you have a book on the way. Could you tease that a bit for us? And when might we expect to see it?
T.S. Wolf: Hmm, asking me to talk about my book is like telling my cat to bite me on the ankles in the morning; in that I would have been more than happy to do so even if you hadn’t asked My book follows the story of a Dragoon (the name of a species of spirit beings given a physical shape and form through the elemental art form called Kamora) named Scyian. He and his twin brother were born near the village of Theos, the most powerful and influential of all Dragoonian tribes. As was tradition, both twins were put through something called a Syanosis Ceremony and, as was also custom, only one emerged from the ritual alive. The purpose of the Syanosis Ceremony is to take the two compatible bodies of the twins and fuse them together, essentially creating two beings that live in one body. The process entails that one of the twins die so that his (or her) knowledge, power, and experience can all be transferred to the living twin. The only requirement with this ceremony is that one of the twins has to be killed by the other’s own hands.
Scyian, upon killing his brother, fled from Theos instead of remaining in the village of those he believed to be the true killers of his brother. Scyian went into exile and was never heard from again.
300 years after the unfolding of these events, the Dragoons have long since spread from their remote island of Dissildia and have conquered both the continents of Peragus and Idiotira and subjugated their inhabitants. Being the offspring of dragons, Dragoons also possess the fearsome gift known as Kamora and thus have unparalleled control over the five primary elements of Nature; as well as control over a variety of powers that breach the very laws of the universe. Unknown to them, something they buried in the past has reemerged with dark intentions. It’s coming marks the beginning of a miasma of blood and death of the likes not seen even during the Dragoon’s conquest.
I haven’t received a concrete release date, but I’ve been told that my book should be out no later than mid-September and as early as mid-to-late August. The series is called Forgotten Legacy Chronicles and the first book is called The Forbidden One.
Viking: Finally, what does the Wolf do when he isn’t writing?
T.S. Wolf: The Wolf (I like that title, by the way) likes to spend what free time he has away from work and writing rock climbing, paint balling, and playing the piano. I also enjoy hiking, running, and hanging out with my fabulous friends who are never at a loss of ideas for the series.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this short trip into The Wolf’s Den, a place from which big things will be emerging very soon. Look for T.S. Wolf’s first book coming out soon and of course visit his website often for his insights, story teasers and announcements. Until next time, fair well my fellow Free Folk!