Today I have Kyle Timmermeyer here with a guest post about the inspiration behind his debut title, Legend of the Elementals: Reintroduction. His book is currently free at most stores! The blog tour, hosted by My Shelf Confessions, kicks off today. Be sure and check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post.
Get inspired. One person can change the world. Four together can save it.Ryan, Erin, Kris, and Jason are heroes defined by the villain, unwitting assistants in a cataclysm brought about by an old man who calls himself… Devidis. The four modern, international teens awaken deep within a jungle canyon, a prison in the post-apocalyptic empire established by the tyrannical Devidis. Surrounded by danger, the four Elementals quickly embrace their new-found super-powered control of the elements–wind, fire, water and stone–under the guidance of Sensei, an imprisoned freedom fighter who believes that Devidis’ near omnipotence is a clear sign that the world is a persistent illusion in the mind of its evil emperor. And so the Elementals are forced to come of age in an increasingly hostile land. Though supernaturally capable, they are faced with a frightening possibility: are their hopes, goals, powers, friends, enemies, surroundings and selves… all an illusion? It’s “Final Fantasy meets X-Men” as worlds are torn asunder!
What were your inspirations for writing the series?
I’ve been writing for about as long as I can remember, and even before that, I was always borrowing the coolest places, characters, weapons, costumes, and themes from my favorite movies, TV shows, books, video games, and comics, including Disney movies, Transformers, GI Joe, Ninja Turtles, the Chronicles of Narnia, Final Fantasy, and the Marvel and DC universes. I would imagine what would happen if all these interesting things were up against each other.
When I was in about 8th grade, I realized that this “slashfic” approach was something of a universe unto itself. At that time, I was really into the Ronin Warriors anime, and I saw the same kind of ”elemental” theme going on in Captain Planet, an earlier guilty pleasure of mine. So I decided to put my own elemental warriors into this universe and see what happened. And, just like that, I knew there was an epic novel (series) in there. I ended up writing a hundred pages in a summer, and I kept going for over a decade. Looking back about half-my-life ago, that first 100-page draft is almost a parody of what I’ve published, but it solidified my resolve, my purpose.
I feel I’ve discovered that writing LEGEND OF THE ELEMENTALS is one of the main purposes of my life, and that sense of purpose is my driving motivation. I could talk about many more of the little things I’ve seen and experienced that go into my book, but there’s no better inspiration than really believing in what you’re working on. And I believe that holds true for every kind of work, not just writing. A message that one might find in LEGEND OF THE ELEMENTALS is that everyone has a talent, a function, a place of best fit. It’s been true for me, and that sort of idealism, that spirit of inspiration, is something I want to share with the world.
How did you approach the writing process itself?
I had written a bunch of short stories, all of them comic, some with my brother Steve’s help, leading up to this. We had a lot of fun on our old DOS machine and the loud dot-matrix printer with its line-feed paper… Oh, how times have changed. I had even tried my hand at a hundred-page comedy novella named after the main character, Stu Pidd.
It was non-stop burp jokes. There were ninjas, too, I’m pretty sure. Dwarves… and gnomes and unicorns wouldn’t have been out of place. Quality stuff. Too bad that in transitions from computers this classic has been lost to the world! I hadn’t thought too much about trying my hand at a more serious novel. At first, once I realized I really had something, the whole idea was so new and exciting for my newly teenage self… the sheer fact that I was giving form to this awesome world in my head kept me going almost every day, pumping out pages. I wanted to make it truly epic, something to rival Lord of the Rings, and, once that 8th grade summer was over, I really talked it up to my new friends in high school. I had sold myself on the idea, “Go big or go home.”
Somehow, my page count for Lord of the Rings was 1,000 pages, and, with such a big goal, simply having the ideas wasn’t enough to get them on paper. The ideas have always come faster than the pages. I still hold that first summer of 100 original pages as about the most productive that my writing has ever been. I kept trying to replicate those months (and only recently was able to accomplish it super-focused editing, and the release of 2 books in 3 months). With the focus on the challenge, I was able to force myself back to the computer to put in the hours, and I set my goal of finishing by the time I completed high school. And I realized that I wanted to be an English major, that writing was my calling. The closer I got to the end of high school, though, the more stressed out I got about my goal. And I slowly realized that forcing myself to write a book that, for all its seriousness, is intended to be a diversion… my stress would ultimately show on the pages. So I gradually let go of that strictness in my writing discipline, and I firmly believe that taking my time has worked to the series’ benefit.
I have found that once I am able to force myself to set aside a few hours, sit down in front of the screen, and re-immerse myself, the writing still comes easily, and I end up having to tear myself away once something like sleep comes up. And years went by like this. My four years in Japan goes by, and I found myself in Korea, done with a second and, quickly, a third comprehensive draft of the entire series. And I realized how old I was getting, how different I am from my teenage self. I know teenage Kyle would love what I’ve got here, and I knew that I needed to get it published before the meddling of old Kyle messes it up too much. And so here I am, self-published.
As I indicated, the rest of the series is in late drafts. I consider myself as having completed, basically, the writing process. From here on out, I think it should be mostly an editing process, as determined by demand and the very little I know of marketing strategies…
How have your favorite books influenced your writing?
As far as the legend aspect, I devoured Greek and Roman myths when I was a kid, and Arthurian stories, too, so that was a big source of initial inspiration, and I credit Dr. Seuss for my openness to the weird and wacky alternate universes.
My favorite series from my teenage years are The Chronicles of Prydain, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the Redwall series. The fantasy influence is strong in my books. Very specifically, the pirate vibe in Book 2 is almost totally due to Brian Jaques, while the changeable first-person storytelling style, from different
perspectives of members on the same team comes directly from K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs. I get nostalgic for Goosebumps and the “My Teacher is a Monster” series that I enjoyed as a younger teen, so the monsters in my books come from there, albeit indirectly. Obviously, LOTR is a big influence, though it wasn’t until high school that I finally read the books all the way through. Terry Brooks’ earlier Shannara books are an easier read. The Bible is a big influence, definitely. Forget the controversial content and the fact that reading it informs understanding of the three great monotheisms. The Bible is the most widely recognized and read text in the world, containing the original source material for many archetypes in
literature, art, film…
Did you do any research for your book and did it help you get a better feel for writing your series?
One great, trite piece of writing advice is “Write what you know.” It makes things easier once you realize that your previously-established expertise and your life experiences have been “research.” For example, I can converse, read, and write (well, type -_- ) in Japanese at a translator level, and I lived in Japan for 4 years, so dropping a good bit of Japanese influence in the book gives it an edge that doesn’t take much additional research. And I think that there’s no shame in embracing the fact that one of the benefits of writing a book for the fantasy genre is that there’s very little (objective, outside) research to be done on a world you’re making up!
That said, one of my major pet peeves when I read fantasy is a lack of realism. And so I’ve found myself doing a lot of research in order to keep my book realistic, though that’s not really work as much as it is a hobby. I read tons of news every day, doing my best to keep up with current, international events to inform realistic characters, situations, interactions, and reactions. I look at the history and present conditions of repressive regimes, for example, in order to portray a realistic dystopia in the Empire of Devidis. I’ve done my best to travel all over the world–Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Italy, Peru and my native US–mainly because I love international adventure, but also because I can experience things similar to what my characters might experience. Is it research? I guess so… Is it fun and interesting? Definitely yes.
Kyle has offered an e-copy of book two, Release, to one lucky visitor! Haven’t read the first book? It’s available free at Smashwords.
In REINTRODUCTION, the Elementals—Ryan, Erin, Kris, and Jason—left the old world and its rules behind, embracing a dubious new reality where they exhibit supernatural control over the elements wind, fire, water and stone. In RELEASE, the 4 teenagers join a motley crew of rebels in pursuit of the Wind Diamond, an Elemental gem that promises to boost Ryan’s wind talent to the next level, in hopes of taking the fight directly to Devidis, the evil emperor who cast the world into its post-apocalyptic state. As leader of the inexperienced team, haunted by his inability to make sense of his powers, can Ryan keep his friends from being captured, or worse, by the black-clad, gun-toting Devidisians as the Elementals navigate cities, frontiers, and high seas brimming with cutthroats and thieves? LEGEND OF THE ELEMENTALS continues…