Today’s post is a little bit long and personal, but please bear with me. Please…?
I am a fantasy writer. I always have been. Other than short stories, I have never written a single piece that didn’t involve swords and sorcery, heroes and villains, and a bookload of ridiculously epic scenes. Right now I’m juggling three projects, one of which I intend to make public fairly soon, and they are all fantasy.
It would be cliché to say that I haven’t always been like this—and a lie. Because, the truth is, I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t fascinated with the idea of creating new worlds and populating them with people and creatures arising from my imagination.
So how did I become this kind of person? What went wrong!?
Let’s travel back in time.
They tell me I learned to read by myself when I was two or three. Apparently, when I was a little kid, I used to steal my older sister’s school books and peruse them without anyone noticing. Every so often, I would go to my mother, my sister, or my grandmother, and I would ask them how a certain letter or word was pronounced. Then, one day, I started reading aloud the captions in the news. Everyone was shocked, since none of them remembered having taught me a thing about reading.
Thus did my love for books begin.
I was also, at this time, blessed with a large private library. We had everything in there, from children’s books my mother used to teach her students to the complete works of Nietzsche in German (which I tried to read later on in life, with varying degrees of success—varying from mild to absolute failure).
Then, when I was five, I went on a trip to Brazil with my mother and a missionary team. We went on a “cruise” through the Amazon river, but, since they were doing charity work, we didn’t stop at the usual spots. We visited the poorest, most deprived little towns along the shores and brought them food and utilities.
During this trip I got all too familiar with piranhas, alligators, snakes, and more insects than you have ever seen in your life. It became usual to watch multi-coloured birds speak in what sounded too much like human speech, and I fell in love with the music that the people we met played.
I mention this because I believe my trip to Brazil has a lot to do with the imagery I use in my novels. Everything is always colourful—usually not the colour it should be—and all the places my characters visit are not what you would usually find in a typical fantasy novel.
But I digress.
I mentioned in an earlier post that the first books I remember reading (other than One Thousand and One Nights and an assortment of children’s books whose titles I can’t remember) are the Agatha Christie novels. There was also some Japanese historical fiction, some R.L. Stine Goosebumps titles, and a Spanish series of books called Manolito Gafotas. I wouldn’t read my first fantasy book until I was thirteen or fourteen, when I discovered The Lord of the Rings.
This is not to say I didn’t write when I was a kid. I used to draw plenty of comics, scrabbles with surprisingly, ridiculously, laughably complex plot twists. But I hadn’t dabbled in fantasy yet.
The year is 2001. I am a bookish, gaming mess of a teenager that keeps failing most of his subjects at school. I spent most of my time reading The Lord of the Rings, a saga which my good friend Enrique had introduced me to, and the Dragonlance, which would turn out to be one of the most influential sagas in my work. I had by then discovered emulators and the joy of RPGs, and I spent hours upon hours playing Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Lufia… Soon I would come to discover Golden Sun—and that, that, my friends, is probably the biggest influence in my work.
Dear God, I was a huge nerd
and still am
At this moment, I spent most of my creativity writing short stories, some of which were not without merit—I won a short story competition, once, with a tale inspired by Sonata Arctica’s “Replica”. However, my first big work, my first fantasy piece, was soon to be produced. And it wouldn’t take the form of a novel, no…
It was a video game.
As a teenager, I learned of the glory that is RPG Maker. Being able to produce RPGs, my favourite gaming genre, with nothing but the most basic programming skills, seemed like a dream. I spent the following years tinkering with it, taking part in a number of communities and beta testing other people’s games. I produced a number of joke games (with good ol’ Luis) and a few incomplete ones (the one that immediately comes to mind is Claiming Revenge, which I created with Enrique).
However, my breakthrough was Amanecer (Dawn, in Spanish), a fantasy game about some travellers who will unwittingly start a revolution to reclaim their home island from its invaders. If you look deep enough in the internet, you may probably still find the trailer on Youtube and the game uploaded to some websites (OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE IT I ACTUALLY TRIED LOOKING IT UP ONLINE AND IT IS STILL AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD!!).
This beautiful picture by Laura Fullmoon was intended to be the cover of the book
I’m digressing a little bit, but bear with me, there is a reason for that. Because, you see, my first fantasy novel ever was a written adaptation of Amanecer.
Both the game and the novel attracted a bit of attention—there still is a DeviantArt Amanecer Fan Club, where the people who had played and read the story sent their fan art. To date, this is still the most beautiful, most heart-warming experience I have had as a writer.
I should also mention that I’m a big metalhead. My life’s soundtrack is composed of songs by Sonata Arctica, Angra, Nightwish, Rhapsody… Wherever I went, I always had my CD player (yes, I’m that old) playing their albums on repeat, until I learned their songs by heart. That is how I got my inspiration then—and, to a large extent, it is how I get it now as well.
Of course, this particular passion of me could not help but creep into my writing. There are characters, countries, and plots inspired by the music I have been listening to since I was a teenager. There are songs that inspire me certain feelings—even if they have nothing to do with the lyrics—which I then translate into my work. When you read my novels, you get the impression that things are going fast, and are ridiculously epic; and that’s something I inherited from listening to metal. My personal writing style, if you will.
God, do I hope it works.
It’s getting late now and I have bothered you long enough. What I’m trying to say is, I have read a lot during my life (surprisingly enough, not so much fantasy fiction until recently), but that hasn’t been the only inspiration I’ve had in my life. Video games (playing and programming them), music, and, most importantly, my own life experiences, are the biggest source of inspiration I have ever had.
Many purists would frown upon this. “Only good writing should inspire good writers”, they’d say. Well, I don’t know whether I’m any good—I haven’t published any novels yet—but what I can say is that writing about what I love, inspired by what I love, has been the single happiest, most fulfilling thing I have done in my life.
So what is your story?