The Call to Adventure - The Story of The Empire City
In 2011, I gave my grade 7 and 8 class, "The Novelist Assignment". The students were tasked with creating a one-line sentence that would describe a story they wanted to create. As any awesome teacher would do, I created an exemplar to model for my students. So I projected this sentence onto the SmartBoard(tm)
"A seventeen year old boy learns that he is part of an ancient prophecy and must unite the six magical ravens and defeat an evil emperor."
And the students LOVED it.
Using their enthusiasm and excitement as a springboard, I churned out TEN chapters within the first month. I wrote a one paragraph synopsis, and tested it on several other students around the school; under the guise that, "I was looking for a novel to use as a Read Aloud". I said that I was considering this book, and asked for their opinion. It went something like this;
"Seventeen year-old Henry and his nine year-old sister Charlotte are alone in a war ravaged world. Running from scavenger and wraiths has taken its toll on the siblings. Seeking a better life for himself and Charlotte, the pair board a ship that will take them to The Empire City and what they hope is a better life. When a massive storm sinks the ship, Henry and Charlotte are separated. He awakes on a mystical island with a beautiful girl named Calli The pair discover that they are part of an ancient prophecy that will thrust them on a harrowing journey to unite the six magical ravens, find Charlotte and restore peace to the world.
The response was an overwhelming, YES!
I was flooded with comments like, "What book is that?", "Is that in our library?", "Can I read it?"
So over the next year and a half, I wrote as much as I could when I had time. I had written up to the end of Part II: The Island, but eventually my forward progressed stalled, and months passed without much writing being done.
Two visits within one week of each other provided the motivation I needed to finish the manuscript.
The first, was a class trip to the London Central Library to listen to Wesley King, author of the Vindico (thevindico.com) speak about writing, and his novels. (Which, by the way was the winner of the Red Maple contest, so I highly recommend that you read the Vindico and the sequel Feros right now!)
Actually, no. Wait. You need to finish reading my Call to Adventure first.
While listening to Wes speak, my story-telling juices started to flow and I knew I had to finish the book. He said something that resonated with me; "Out of the 100 people who start a novel, only three will finish. Of those three, only one will see it published."
It was right then and there, that I decided that I was going to be one of the three. And I was going to be the one.
You can imagine my thrill when I approached Wes after the presentation and he graciously offered to read my story and give me some feedback. Needless to say, the next few chapters poured out like water from a crumbling dam. I sent it to Wes a few weeks later. As promised, Wes returned it to me with some feedback, encouraging words and an offer to mentor me along the way. I am forever indebted to Wesley King, and Wes, if you are reading this, THANK YOU.
The second visit came from two former students; Liam and Tad, who were now in grade ten. They returned to my classroom to visit, and the first question Liam asked was "Have you finished your book?" To have these boys come back, over a year later, and ask about it pushed me over the edge. They showed me that this story was worth writing, and worth fighting for.
Liam read the first (awful!) draft and loved it. He wants to play Keyln in the movie.
I have an amazing circle of friends and family that support me and have a long list of people who want to be beta readers. To my wife, the solid foundation that I have chosen to build my life upon, there are no words. To my colleagues that were the very first beta readers who trudged through contraction hell, and too much "telling" and not enough "showing", thank you for your support.
My manuscript is currently nestled safely in the wondrously magical hands of author and freelance editor Kim Graff (kimgraff.com) and I cannot wait to see what she will do with it.
I have answered the Call to Adventure and am looking forward to taking my first step into the Special World of Authorville.