Four Weeks. Four Mondays. Four Authors. Why Do I Write is a series of thoughts written by indie authors I read, like and admire.
This week, fellow sci-fi enthusiast Owen Elgie about his writing journey. Owen and I met during a convention and I later found out he was consumed with words, just like the rest of us. His first book, The Circle of Fire, is out now and contains everything fantasy fans ask for. Thank you Owen, and enjoy the ride.
I’m a nerd.
But I’m also not.
For all time, I’ve been a massive fan or Star Wars, Star Trek and the like. But I’ve always been a keen sportsman and have played many sports to representative levels.
On paper, I have interests at opposite ends of the continuum. On paper, I am a maelstrom of contradictions. I’m the nerd and the jock at the same time.
For the longest time I worked in an industry which was closer to the ‘jock’. I spent my time working with the public, all based around the physical results they could achieve. And you know what, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed working with all the people who wanted and needed to make changes to themselves but I enjoyed being a part of all of the journeys. All my qualifications and free time was aimed at this end of the spectrum, relegating my love of sci-fi, fantasy et al to nothing more than a whispered hobby. I enjoyed creative writing and studied English Literature to A-Level but there was never any drive to treat that as anything more than just the less dominant side of me.
But in 2009, things changed.
Life conspired against me and I was left to stare at the fact that my enjoyment had gone.
At a very dark point in my life, a book turned on the light.
My wife gave me a copy of Storm Front by Jim Butcher to read. We were abroad for two weeks trying to rest and recoup. Holiday reading just meant to relax with by the pool. Jim and his creation Harry Dresden have a lot to answer for.
I hammered through the pages of the first book in the Dresden Files series and in what felt like minutes, was through the next six as well. They were the perfect fit to me. They each felt as if they’d been written with me in mind, the perfect story that I wanted to read.
And it blew air on an ember I’d had in my mind for several years.
I’d been playing with an idea for years. One that dealt with Dragons and magic in the modern era where the Dragons were the good guys. Dreams seemed to add snippets to the growing narrative I kept locked away in the back of my mind. Drunken ramblings built onto it further. It had been bubbling away for years, nothing more than the story that I would love to read. I’d always felt that Dragons could be so much more than they had been seen as up to this point.
Dragons didn’t immediately have to be cast as the bad guys of the piece. In the research I slogged through for my first book, it was clear to see that the Dragon represented the devil. The Dragon was the representation of purest evil. I always felt they were more than that. I also saw them more than being just animals, beasts of burden. My Dragons had deep intellect. The Dresden Files also showed that the mythically magical can take place within the modern era. Dragon tales in times of yore didn’t quite do it for me but the wonders of the realms of Urban Fantasy were beautifully compelling.
The Dresden Files showed me that my story, the one that I was writing for myself in my head, wasn’t quite so isolated. And I realised that my inner nerd wasn’t quite so isolated either. Maybe my story was worth spending some real time on. Maybe my story was worth some proper work.
So I gave it a go.
Research that I didn’t like followed by writing that I did. Page after page built up and the story began to take shape. It grew in some ways that I wasn’t expecting, adding in some details and removing others but they did add to the whole. My book was starting to develop.
But the ideas didn’t stop coming.
Now I’d taken the brake off my mind, all manner of thoughts were bursting forth. So I wrote them down as well and within the blink of an eye, I’d created a little pot of short stories as well. I’d been able to create the odd worlds and situations but I’d been putting thoughts that went through my head into the mix trying to keep the stories as real as possible.
My first book, The Circle of Fire, has just been published and it’s the story that I had in my head for all those years until The Dresden Files happened to me. I read that series and it showed me that other people could feel the same way I did about the stories that were out there. Other people could be looking for the story that I had been hiding in my head for all the previous years.
All I needed to do was stop putting things off and actually write the thing.
Since 2009, I’ve changed who I am. I’ve brought forward the parts of me that are the nerd. I’m still obsessed with sports but I don’t play anymore. Now I go to sci-fi conventions regularly and spend a great deal of time messing about with ideas for future literary work. I’m currently finishing off the first draft of the second book in my Dragon series and there are at least four other books I have set up to work on when the Dragons are finished with.
I’m loving the writing. It’s something that was always there in me, the need to tell a story but having started to actually do it, I’m sad it took me this long.
Better late than never though.
Owen Elgie is a British fantasy author; his first novel The Circle of Fire, was released earlier this year, and the second instalment of the series is in the works. You can read more about Owen here and support his work here