Welcome to First Book Friday, with today’s special guest star, Erik Scott de Bie.
Normally I write the introductions here, but I loved what Erik had on his site, so I’m stealing it! (Either that or I’m too busy prepping for Confusion to come up with something. You be the judge…)
“In his free time, Erik stalks the streets of London clad in black, storms the ancient castles of Scotland, and faces French fire-dancers on warm midnights along the Seine. He has stared Death in her pretty face, vanquished his greatest nemesis in the name of true love, and earned some rather spectacular saber scars. (You should’ve seen the other guy.)”
Also, he writes books.
My first novel, Ghostwalker [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], is a product of several fortunate coincidences and a lot of hard work, but it stands on a foundation of one simple character flaw: I am a geek.
I got into D&D around age 10, and I almost immediately started writing all sorts of adventures, character backgrounds, and even stories. My first long fiction — the background of my character Whisper, an elf rogue in the Forgotten Realms setting (coincidentally) — I wrote at 13. It was supposed to be 10 pages and ended up being 45. I knew at that point that writing was what I wanted to do.[1. Jim’s note: My first few stories came about in a very similar way, actually.]
This led into my favorite pastime, which was writing. When lots of kids my age were trying anything to avoid writing, I was shut up in my room typing away on my computer. I took inspiration from all sorts of novels, TV, and films — I would always ask myself how I would have done that ending differently. My work was awful, of course (my wife managed to get a hold of a disk of some of it, which she keeps as blackmail), but I kept at it, building and practicing and honing. I wrote about one novel a year between the time I was 14 and, well, now.
I never even thought about submitting any of it for publication, though–for me, this was just a fun pastime, which I would occasionally share with my friends and family. Then in college, I went through a serious health crisis, and it gave me the little kick-in-the-butt of urgency I needed to give it a shot. I sent a 10-page sample to Wizards of the Coast, and got a very nice rejection letter from Phil Athans and Peter Archer (with handwritten notes), who encouraged me to submit more in the future. This was big for me.
Less than a year later came the Maiden of Pain open-call, for a novel in a Forgotten Realms series about priests of various deities. My submission was not really a “priestly” novel, but more of a “fighter-y” tale. They didn’t buy that one, but they kept me in mind for another limited call that they were going to do later, for one novel in the Fighters series, and one in the Wizards series. I remember they mailed it to my parents, rather than to me (as I was in college, I listed my permanent address as theirs), and my dad immediately called me to read me the entirety of the letter: I could submit for one book or the other, and it would be a story based on either a Fighters prestige class or a Wizards signature spell. I listened to the story options, and I couldn’t get past the third entry on the Fighters list: Ghostwalker. Everything clicked for me, and I knew that was the one I had to do.
I think writers don’t write for the money, or the fame, or the glory, or anything like that. I think when it comes down to it, writers write because they need to write. There’s something in them that begs, wheedles, and demands to get out, and woe to the writer who doesn’t listen.
I had the entire story formed in the next two days, the proposal sent off within the week or so, and I just started writing the novel. In a sense, I knew that I would get the contract, but to an extent, I didn’t care if I didn’t. Which is not to say it wouldn’t have sucked if I didn’t get it (because it would have), but it was just the story I needed to tell, and so I did. Writing that novel took into account so many things that I’d gone through in my life and was going through at the time: movies, books, philosophy, music, my health, romance, and just . . . life. How could I not write it?
I was overjoyed to get the contract officially signed (and I was very angsty about getting it signed and executed and all the paperwork taken care of), which I expressed for all of an hour, before I got back to writing chapter nine.
I’m very happy with how the novel turned out, and I stand by it today as one of the best things I’ve written. There are some things I could do better, of course, and my style has evolved a great deal over the many books (some of them published!) that I’ve written since then, but I think it stands as a great introduction to my style. If you like this one, there’s a good chance you’ll like what I’ve come out with since.
P.S. For Ghostwalker’s five-year anniversary of being in print (which is pretty cool!), I actually did a retrospective on the novel over at my website. Readers can get in touch with me there, at my blog, find me on Facebook or Twitter, or drop me an email at erikscottdebie AT yahoo DOT com.