Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Girl Who Read My Book

Today I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge a person that made a tremendous influence on my life, despite the fact that I don't really know her that well. When I was first writing my epic fantasy novel, tentatively titled at that point "Incipient", I was just learning the ropes. I really had no idea what I was doing--I had based the book on the D&D campaign I ran for my friends, mostly because of how fun that story was and how much we all loved the characters. I had it in my mind that I would make the best book ever off of these characters' adventures, and then go on to write two more in an epic trilogy with dozens of viewpoint characters spread out across the world all involved in this amazing plot I had dreamed up.

It failed, for obvious reasons. I had too many rookie mistakes--too many viewpoints too quickly, too little really happening to catch interest, and way too many flashbacks interspersed among scenes Lost-style. But the characters, for the most part, were solid, and I do intend to go back and finish that book someday, albeit with a major overhaul.

Despite the book's faults, I attracted a reader on one of the forums I post my work on for critique. Her name was Emily, and one of the first things she commented when she read the prologue to my novel was "*shivers* Wow."

That was the beginning of an amazing journey.

Emily went on to avidly devour every chapter I posted, becoming immersed in my story and my characters and genuinely loving the entire experience. It was the coolest thing. She even made me a stick figure sketch of some of my characters--my first fan art. And best of all, she encouraged me to keep writing. Without her constant encouragement, feedback, and nagging when I didn't have a chapter up, I might not be pursuing a career in writing genre fiction.

She was the first person to see what I was trying to do. To really get it. She took my characters and she made them her own, like any reader of a good book will do. Looking back, there were some things I did right with that book, but for the most part, it was sort of hodge-podge and convoluted. But Emily saw the diamond in the rough. She saw the story that I was trying to tell, and she gave me her honest reaction to each scene, which helped so much to see what I was doing wrong and how I could fix it.

We don't keep in touch anymore, sadly, because of both of our lives being crazy, but someday I hope to get back in contact with her, or maybe even meet her in person and give her a big hug and tell her how much her simple enjoyment of my story meant to me. And you can get bet that when (not if, but when) I start publishing novels, one of them will be dedicated to her.

Here's to you, Emily, wherever you are. Thanks for everything. Thanks for believing in me. And thank you for showing me so much kindness.

EDIT: Oh, and if you want to see the fan art she drew for me... Here you go!

Explanation for what's going on here: I had written a good villain (Vangen), apparently, because Emily hated him (for the right reasons) and all she wanted was for my character Striker (who was working for the bad guys at the time) to save the poor slave girl that was being abused by Vangen. He didn't do so, so she took it into her own hands and created this.

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