Saturday, April 30, 2011

Release Eve Thoughts

Eternal Knight has been a project 23 years in the making.

That's a helluva long time, Matt, some of you are thinking.


I started Eternal Knight in college. I had two primary inspirations for starting a novel...

1) I had just finished a fantasy trilogy that I was supremely disappointed with. I had read the author before, and liked his books. But this trilogy felt mailed in. I never felt any threat for the main characters. They were just too powerful (and too good) to die. After griping about it for a while, I thought it was time to put up, or shut up. Could I do better?

No, I will not tell you who the author was.

2) My second motivation was Star Wars. I have always believed that Luke Skywalker should have turned to the Dark Side. I'll save my defense for this proposition for some other time. It did, however, give me the start for a novel. I would write a fantasy novel in which the "Luke Skywalker" character would turn to the Dark Side.

Did I just give away the most important plot element of Eternal Knight? Nope! The book has changed a lot in 23 years. The world is the same, the underlying threat is the same, but the story is nothing like it was back then. 

 I won't take you though all 23 years of writing Eternal Knight. (You're welcome.) I'll just say that the early years were marked by tremendous doubt that I had the skill to write a fantasy novel. I kept comparing myself to JRR Tolkien and realizing that I could never write like he did. And if I couldn't write like Tolkien, I couldn't write fantasy. 

Half way through Eternal Knight I gave up and write a science fiction novel. Voila! The problem of having to write as well as Tolkien was eliminated. Unfortunately, the sci-fi novel was not good. The story was fine, but the writing was not. But the experience did help me grow as a writer. It also showed me that I could finish a full-length novel. 

With renewed confidence, I returned to Eternal Knight. I loved the story too much to let it slip away. And, with more maturity, I realized that there was no requirement in the fantasy genre to write like Tolkien. With the help of  some great critique partners, I managed (with many fits and starts) to complete Eternal Knight. Over a period of several years I sent three volleys of query letters out to agents, each without success. 

I waited and waited for "the call". It never arrived. But I couldn't bear to let Eternal Knight die on my hard drive. I had too much faith in it. So I decided to self-publish. It wasn't an easy decision. When you decide to self-publish you paint a great big target on your chest. After all, you have just declared yourself worthy of publication. You have just ignored all of the gatekeepers in the publishing world. And when you declare yourself worthy, you have to be prepared for those who are going to take aim at you. 

And so I find myself here, releasing Eternal Knight to the world. I couldn't be happier. And before I go further, I must say that I couldn't have done this alone. I thought of reprinting my acknowledgements page here, but decided against it. I want the people on that page to have the experience of reading their names in the book. But to everyone who has helped or encouraged me...

Thank you!

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