From the desk of Drew Karpyshyn
I’ve always felt that there is a fundamental flaw with the Gregorian calendar that has become the standard we use to track the relentless passage of time. Despite January 1st being the official start of each New Year, the most important milestones of my life have been marked not by the retreating winter solstice, but rather by the transition from the August dog days of summer into the first few weeks of September.
As a child, Labor Day heralded the start of the school year: new classes, new teachers and sometimes even a new school. As I grew older, it signaled the start of a new semester at university. My wife and I began dating in the final weeks of one glorious August, and many years later we were married in September. My first published novel was released in September of 2000.
And now, continuing the pattern, Children of Fire – the first book in The Chaos Born, my original fantasy trilogy – is coming out on August 27th of this year.
I imagine it’s a similar story for many of you. As children, our lives were defined by the rigid rhythms of formal education. The end of June was a magical, wondrous time, with its promise of freedom from the classroom… even if that freedom was often tempered by the obligatory family vacation or summer job. But if you were anything like me, by the time August finally rolled in the wonder was gone. Long, lazy summer days became a burden; a chore. Left without purpose or direction, I would realize the freedom of summer break was really a trap to drown me in boredom and monotony.
The cycle was predictable, inevitable and yet somehow always surprising to me. The looming return of the inevitable school year did little to excite me once I reached this stage each summer. Though I excelled academically, I knew the start of school simply brought a different kind of drudgery – day after day of class and lessons.
Fortunately, I discovered a way to escape the malaise of my comfortable, uneventful, dreadfully boring life. It began with Tolkien and his tale of a simple hobbit looking for a little adventure. I was instantly enthralled and captivated by a realm where wizards, dragons and magic came to life – a place and a time that was far more interesting than my mundane summers in suburbia.
The following summer I called on C.S. Lewis to save me. In subsequent years I turned to Brooks, Donaldson, Hickman, Weis and Eddings. By the time I reached high school, my reading was no longer constrained to the final weeks of August – it had become a voracious habit that I fed year round. I branched out into the sci-fi of Asimov and Herbert, and ventured into the dark horror of Barker and King. In later years, I delved deep into the fantasy realms of Martin and Kay.
Each time I discovered another gifted author – whether as a child, a teenager or an adult – it rekindled the creative spark inside me. Each new book, each new realm, filled me with amazement. My mind boggled at the geniuses that created these incredible worlds, yet in my own hubris I dared to dream I could do the same.
In the summer of my senior year of high school, I began my first clumsy attempts at creating my own epic fantasy tale. But though I had been creatively inspired by the brilliance of the authors I had read, I quickly realized that I lacked the ability to do justice to my grandiose vision. I knew the story I wanted to tell, the characters I wanted to portray and the emotions I wanted to evoke in the reader, but what came out was an uneven, awkward mess.
Over the next decade I worked on improving my writing skills, taking courses and churning out millions upon millions of words as I honed my craft. Through perseverance and luck (and, I like to think, a little natural talent) I was able to sell several short stories. Through either coincidence or fate (or perhaps just to keep on theme), my first professional story sale was published in Paradox magazine’s summer edition.
As I mentioned before, my first novel – Temple Hill – came out in September of 2000; a watershed moment in my writing career. I parlayed this into a full time job writing dialog and storylines for video games with BioWare, which led to my Star Wars: Darth Bane novels and my Mass Effect sci-fi trilogy. But through it all, the seeds of an epic fantasy world sown in the summers of my youth continued to germinate, waiting for their chance to burst forth.
Now, ten novels and twenty five years later, I’m finally equal to the task. Children of Fire is the culmination of everything I have written and read. It’s the first book in an epic trilogy that pays homage to the classic fantasy authors that kindled the creative spark inside me so long ago. The plot is driven by a kinetic style that reflects my work in video games and my sci-fi action novels. And throughout the work you’ll find dark and disturbing elements inspired by the horror masters that sent chills down my spine and made me sleep with the lights on.
I will always look at the end of summer as a time of beginnings: new challenges; new experiences; new adventures. Children of Fire comes out in two short weeks, marking yet another new chapter in my life and career – one I have waited a long, long time for.
It’s a journey I am eager to begin. And my greatest hope is that you, dear readers, will join me.