Friday, April 6, 2018

[TRUTH SERUM] Why I Write Fantasy

This post appears as part of the "Brain to Books Cyber Convention & Book Expo Fantasy Book Tour"...

Running from April 6th through April 8th 2018 this online book event brings readers and authors together for a weekend of books, and book related events. Learn more here
B2B Fantasy Blog Tour - Tom Fallwell B2B Fantasy Blog Tour - Mary R. Woldering B2B Fantasy Blog Tour - Ashley Capes
B2B Fantasy Blog Tour - Connie Cockrell B2B Fantasy Blog Tour - Shakyra Dunn B2B Fantasy Blog Tour - Dove Winters

"Why I Write Fantasy"

I've always been a big fan of the fantasy genre--it's what you'll find me drowning myself in while looking through books, movies, my favorite video games, and most of all, in my writing.

But what truly gives fantasy a momentum? Where does it all begin?

He's cute, he's mean, and he's purple!

My Start

My journey as a fantasy writer began at the humble age of six when I first got my hands on a PlayStation and got a chance to play the game series "Spyro the Dragon," (very much credited as my first game) where the worlds were vast and the characters were just the same. I was taken by the atmosphere that this platformer had to offer, and every moment, every exploration, was an adventure just waiting to be unraveled.

By the time that my days of Spyro were completed, I had moved on to broader aspects and picked up Grimm fairy tales. See, I'd always loved Disney's tales, but to see the other side of the spectrum at age ten, now that was an unexpected hike up the mountain. But it gave me perspective on darker themes, ones that I was willing to explore.

Phase three came in just one year later with not one, but two entries: "Spirited Away" by Studio Ghibli and "Kingdom Hearts" by Squaresoft (later Square Enix.) Spirited Away was a movie that took my breath away with its glorious world-building and atmospheric story, whereas Kingdom Hearts gave me amazing characters, a sense of nostalgia drawing into Disney, and a newfound love for Final Fantasy that would later come to consume my love of the RPG genre. Blending these elements together helped me to get a start as a writer.

My Growth

There was much for me to uncover when deciding that I wanted to write novels for a living. The first, having a purpose, which was always clear from the start: to inspire others to create something truly magical with their own hands. 

That purpose gave me my genre immediately--fantasy. Everyone loves to step into a world unlike their own. A sweet escape from the reality that binds us to an order we may not agree with. We are able to conjure our own worlds to live in, and some of us are fortunate enough to make them a reality.

The day that I opened myself up to the world as a fantasy writer, I knew that my purpose would only grow as I took the necessary steps, and watched my worlds blossom beyond even my comprehension. It was truly mystifying to see others becoming engrossed in the ideas of shaping one world from another, and traversing through time, space, wonder, reason, and so much more to form them.

I love creating. I love being a Creator, an Arcana, a Gravekeeper, and many more titles that will one day make claims on my heart as I advance and craft more entries in my personal adventure log.


With all that knowledge in mind, I never got to the root of this blog. Why do I write fantasy?

I write fantasy because it allows an escape to another world, where dragons roam the skies, pixies flutter through the trees, barely in our sights, and the mystics become truth. We all deserve to believe in something and make it real. 

I write fantasy to show others that your dreams deserve to be real, whether you make it yourself or show it. Let your world prosper. Seek out hidden treasures. Find your person. Hunt down your prey. Solve your mysteries to life. Discover change in yourself.

And continue to shine.

B2B Fantasy Blog Tour - Shakyra Dunn

Monday, March 26, 2018

[TRUTH SERUM] The Final Lesson


Approximately one year, four months, and two weeks to the day, I finished a little novel that I started during my first National Novel Writing Month called "The Final Lesson." I already had the plans to publish it as a standalone despite mixed statements on people wanting me to make it two separate books due to its length or let it run its course and be as big as the world itself could shape it as.

In the end, it merged as one, and since I'm on a backlog between my Final Fantasy XV complete review (which will be released after I purchase the rather unexpected Royal Edition DLC and judge it all then) as well as working through a nice number of secret projects... I decided to tell the story of the longest novel I've crafted to date.

I always love my truth serums. Maybe you'll like this one too.

The very first confirmed design of main character Leilana Erovina, originally named Leila. She was created to be a Final Fantasy OC, daughter to Zack Fair. Whom, I adore, as many know.


The year was 2016, and it was early October, just weeks away from the legendary crunch month for everyone looking to create their own new project, or continue current ones. 50,000 words in a month, always a challenge for me, but some do double that in that slot of time. But it was going to be my first, and I was more than happy to participate and see what the buzz was about.

I already had some ideas in mind, but they clicked into place one night while working my shift at Wal-Mart (I guess it was sheer luck, because I tend to become so stressed when I'm at this place that I lose most of my ideas). I could write a story about a young witch that's on a pilgrimage. Bit by bit, the story lined up my fantasy. A prince and his servant. Friendships growing. War. Wonder. Mystic. Wisdom. Chaos, cataclysm. All things that I loved in my favorite escape.

Current Leilana, aged 14, a far cry from the cute child above.


My biggest inspiration for this story came from not only my love of video games, fantasy, and all things magical, but a very distinctive aspect of my early childhood. 

When I was about six years old, I had a massive phase where every time that I went to my local video store with my mom, who knew the owner pretty well, I wanted to pick up the Studio Ghibli movie "Kiki's Delivery Service." 

At the time, I didn't know anything about anime spare watching Pokemon and Digimon extensively. But "Kiki's Delivery Service" was different--Kiki was an early inspiration for me due to her positive nature and willingness to change. What set her apart from the Pokemon trainers and the Digidestined... all of her skills came from a lineage, and she was born to become a powerful witch.

I wanted to be a witch too, more than anything.

I thought of flying through the night sky on a broomstick when I turned thirteen, and getting to explore other cities and become a better person by meeting new people. Part of that got to come true, at least. I never got the dream of becoming a witch... but I did get to meet new people and grow from it. And if I couldn't ride on a broomstick to other places, why not have someone else do it in my place?

That led to the birth of Leilana Erovina, a young girl blessed with magic from an heirloom of her late brother, a gift from her fallen clan: a grimoire called the Lasette. She is given the opportunity to become a Warlord, a powerful mage that can become a quintessential guardian within the realm of Adrylis. Her thirst for knowledge was her driving force for her character's development, as she is always willing to learn more about new places, new people, and to see what lies ahead of her. That is only amplified when she meets the Prince of a recently-fallen kingdom, Remiel Vesarus, and his servant/guardian/best friend, Solus Brenner. 

Kiki and Leilana couldn't be more different in personality. But I hope that Leilana one day holds as much inspiration for someone as Kiki did for me. Thank you, Hayao Miyazaki, for giving her to me.


Brothers in arms, Solus Brenner (left)
and Remiel Vesarus (right). 
Leilana and Solus, the
only confirmed couple in the
story, known as "Soleil."
One thing that sets "The Final Lesson" apart from other stories I've written is the creation of my first true relationship formed over time. An intentional romance that still buds like a rose and allows the petals to wilt and fall as the story progresses. 

Before Leilana and Solus's romantic relationship truly blossomed in my mind, and still stands as my favorite that I've written, I avoided romance in my fantasies like the plague. I was very skilled at writing other developments in friendships, crushes, and even brotherhoods. But this was my first true pairing that I wrote and established from the very beginning and came to adore the more that they interacted. They deserved a chance.

Still, much like my other works, they aren't the only relationship to blossom. Solus and Remiel had a close friendship from the beginning of the story, acting as best friends, brothers, and also have an odd closeness as Servant and Lord due to Remiel's royal lineage. Their friendship has a lot of testaments that grow throughout the story, willing to test them in leaps and bounds due to leaving home and being away from watchful eyes. There's also the friendship between Sien Kaiser and Leilana, the first female bond that either of them shared, and one that develops by mere chance in Sien's tavern. More complexingly, there's also a bond between Leilana and a former classmate, Amiria Farone, and their friendship with Lancett Lune.

Building characters has always been my passion. And I'm hoping that they continue to blossom in the wildflower garden that is "The Final Lesson."


Last year, I wrote a novella prequel to "The Final Lesson." It wasn't well-received in terms of reviews due to its poor pacing (Which, I admit, was really rushed), but it did manage to snag second place in the Virtual Fantasy Con awards for best fantasy novella. I plan to rewrite that novella from scratch. 

And this time, it'll shed some light on another character that didn't have much time to shine before his already written demise, Ennis Erovina, the older brother of Leilana Erovina and prominent Warlord. He deserves more of a story.


The next thing on my list? Finishing more projects. Trying not to destroy myself in the process. Hopefully finishing my second NaNoWriMo project! And then... I relax in my chair and sip some tea like the writer that I am!