Urban Fantasy Reviews has been so lucky lately in getting some quality guest posts. I particularly enjoy this one because Adams does a great job articulating how his journey into writing began. Enjoy!
The Journey of a Fantasy Author
by D.A. Adams
The journey for The Brotherhood of Dwarves series has been long and arduous. It began in my early teens, when my cousin, Sam, introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons. The central protagonist of the series, the half-elf half-dwarf Roskin, began as a character I played. Fairly soon, my D&D group decided that I should be the regular Dungeon Master because they enjoyed the elaborate, detailed quests I would invent, so Roskin morphed into a non-player character thrown into certain adventures, sometimes to assist and sometimes to hinder. Back then, he was a much different persona than the character in the series, mostly because of my growth and maturity as a person, but his core elements were forged 20 years before the series began.
During my senior of high school, I discovered through the school newspaper that I enjoyed writing, so I decided to pursue it as a career and chose to write fantasy because it had been such a positive influence on my life. The character Crushaw was born during my early and quite clumsy attempts to write. I had grand dreams of developing an epic masterpiece around this escaped slave who becomes a nearly invincible warrior. At the time, I didn’t recognize the Robert E. Howard influence, but now I see that all of the Conan books I had devoured were the genesis for Crushaw. However, again, the character in the series is a much different one than what I envisioned as a late teen.
Then, I went to college to learn the craft of fiction, and for three years at the University of Memphis, my instructors drilled into my head that genre work was for mindless hacks. If I wanted to have a “real” writing career, I had to write mainstream literary stories. Being young and naïve, I listened to them and set aside my “childish” dreams of creating epic fantasy. For the next several years, I diligently focused on developing my storytelling skills and wrote exclusively in a literary style, and while I did produce a handful of short stories that were well-crafted, I struggled to find my voice. When I went to graduate school, that same notion was reinforced tenfold, and my creative spirit was completely dampened by the experience. By my late 20’s, I had grown so frustrated, I gave up on writing as a career because I simply couldn’t find my voice.
Then, while watching The Two Towers, an epiphany hit me like a thunderbolt from a blue sky. The professors who had, with their best intentions, steered me away from all genre work, had also stifled my true creative desire, which was to write fantasy fiction. Still, at that point, my confidence was so fragile, I didn’t think I had the talent to write anything. Instead of writing, I thought about what kind of book I would write if I ever chose to give it a try. I mulled the idea and compiled pages and pages of notes. At first, I thought about dusting off Crushaw and telling his story as I had originally planned, but because I had changed so much as a person, I found that character too simplistic and stereotypical. He would have to change if I were to write about him. Then, I remembered Roskin and thought about writing some of the D&D adventures he had endured from my DM days, but again, that character was too flat.
The moment of inspiration for combining those two characters into one story was the closest I’ve come to a true religious experience. I saw them both clearly, Crushaw aged and disgraced, Roskin young and arrogant, and knew that I had found something that interested me. For nearly a year, I built the framework for the series, and from the beginning, I saw it as five books. Still, I had no intentions of actually writing anything. At that point, it was merely a hobby, something to occupy my imagination while I taught composition and business communications at a private college. The true turning point for me, my rebirth as a writer, came when I saw my first son’s heartbeat on an ultrasound. On that grainy screen, there was this little speck of life, fluttering away at 150 bpm. Watching that, my creative energy, which had felt extinguished for so long, burgeoned back to life. I knew in my heart I was a writer and this story I had been constructing as a hobby had to be told, so either that night or the next, I sat down at my computer and began writing the opening chapter for The Brotherhood of Dwarves.
To me, the biggest strengths of the series are the characters’ growth through each book, the intense action scenes, and the smoothness of the narrative voice. Also, because I wanted the series to be young adult appropriate, there is no profanity or sexual content in any of the books. As a father, that was very important to me, creating a story that my sons could read without me feeling ashamed of the language or gratuitous sexploitation to draw in readers. Instead, I’ve tried to develop a story that keeps reader wanting to know what happens next through plot twists and dramatic tension. So far, the vast majority of feedback from my readers has been positive, and most have expressed that each book is better than the one before. Now that Seventh Star Press has reissued the first two books, I hope the series reaches a broader audience and more people are able to share in the adventures of these compelling, complex characters.
For more information about D.A. Adams and his series, The Brotherhood of Dwarves head to these links!