World Building – Landscapes

Can a novel be inspired by landscapes? Usually, a story is derived from either plot or character. Locations mostly come into play when the story is specifically about them. Climbing Mount Everest or the siege of the Alamo, to name just a few, have specific locales as their driving force.

If you look at the picture below, can’t you just taste and smell and see the possibilities for a story? Who are the people who live there? What is a day like in this world? How deep do those buildings go into the ground? How did those cracks appear?

In my early twenties, I was introduced to a German painter named Hans Werner Sahm (if you google his name and click on “Images,” you can see most of his paintings.) His landscapes spoke to me on a very deep and personal level. It was as if the scenes stirred some ancient memory within me.

When I started my first novel, a fable called The Three Feathers, I had not thought about the paintings for a few years. But the subconscious is a fascinating thing and when I began drawing a map of the world that opened up before me, the images came back. Thanks to the internet, I suddenly had all of them at my fingertips.

From that point on, roughly around chapter 6 in the book, the plot was mostly motivated by the landscapes in the paintings. And because they somehow stir up stuff from the subconscious, the story that appeared also felt as if it rose from deep down somewhere. I was soon swept away in it.

Take the above image, for example. It became the inspiration for the Porte Des Lioness, an ancient gate into the mountain, the heroes had to find. From that scene a character appeared. His name is Broga, he’s a peeper frog who, despite his size, was the mighty guardian of the gate – the only one who could open it. This is a major plot point in the story and one that, without that image, would not have been there.

Once inside the mountain, another image served as the foundation for a good third of the story all the way to its fantastical climax: An ancient abandoned mining town deep underground. The light source never changed; the pillars were, as the legend states, carved by dragons.

I believe that for every writer there are triggers fueling the stories from a well beyond the rational mind. We all have different means to fuel our imagination. Landscapes is just one of them.  For me images like this one open the door to those hidden chambers inside – the ones where the stories come from.

 

Cheers,

Stefan

The Dragon Rises – Apocalypse Weird Gets it Done!

the dragon will rise

When George Lucas pitched his Star Wars script to the studio, they reluctantly accepted and green lit a very low budget for a space opera that, in their minds, would hopefully make the money back and most likely not have an impact on anything. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall the moment George asked the studio to keep the merchandise rights. They chuckled and gave it to him. Well…

Not that long ago and in this very same galaxy, a small group of authors approached Amazon to pitch the idea of publishing books by multiple authors writing stories in the same world. Amazon liked the idea. They loved the idea. They said it would be impossible to implement as they would have to build a completely new and separate department for it. They declined. Maybe they chuckled. We won’t know.

A week ago, I looked at the publishing schedule for Apocalypse Weird. We are well into 2016, with 2 books per month and no end in sight. Didn’t we just start this whole thing? New authors are coming on board and all of the books that are out right now, have been green lit for their respective sequels. HOW COOL IS THAT???

Because new stories were developed and approved while I was still writing, the sequel to The White Dragon – Genesis won’t be out until May, 2016. That’s a year from now. That’s a long time to wait if someone liked the book and I felt that I wanted to compensate readers for their patience. And here’s the cool thing about working with fellow indie authors. They get it. They get when something sounds right and benefits the reader, and they act on it.

I asked Nick to consider allowing me to write two books before March, 2016 (the deadline for handing in the manuscript to Ellen Campbell, our editor in charge). He said yes. So, here’s what will happen: The White Dragon – Crucible will come out in May 2016. One month later, in June, the conclusion of the series, The White Dragon – Alchemy will be published. I’m thrilled to have a deadline. It somehow gets the creative juices flowing.

Thanks to everyone who has read the first book. Thanks to you, I can do what I love and keep writing Kasey’s story.

Please read all the other books in the Apocalypse Weird universe. It’s a rich reading experience that will just get richer as new books become available.

Cheers,

Stefan

Apocalypse Weird: "A Renegade Band of Authors"

 

bluestonepressSo, the Blue Stone Press, a local newspaper for the area I live and work in, has done an article about Apocalypse Weird and my involvment with it. I am now officially a member of a “renegade band of authors who are out to revolutionize publishing.” I’ll take that description any day. The writer of the article, Anne Pyburn Craig, totally got it. She got what AW is about and what we are trying to do.

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This article is one of many small ripples in the large pond of publishing. Each author does what he or she can to get the word out, to get people excited about the project. This work on the ground level is necessary to collect a base of readers and fans who stand behind the project and who, through their enthusiasm for the stories, spread the word even further. That in itself is revolutionary. Here is the article, hopefully readable. The online version will be available in about 2 weeks.

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Until next time,

Cheers and keep reading!

Stefan Bolz

 

The White Dragon Rises

 

When I first set out to write my Apocalypse Weird book: The White Dragon – Genesis, I only had an initial image that I had found online somewhere of how Kasey Byrne, the story’s heroine could look like. Everything else came from there, including the pendant. Her hair is a bit lighter but otherwise this is pretty close to what I had envisioned.

 
Kasey Byrne
 

I realized half way through the story that the picture doesn’t show Kasey in the beginning of Book I (Genesis) but rather at the beginning of Book III (Alchemy) when she comes back from her journey to join the others and finish what they had started in Book I. If you’ve read Genesis, you’re in for a real treat in Book 2, AW: The White Dragon – Crucible. I don’t have the green light yet but I’m working on it anyway just because I can’t stop :-).

Here is the short blurb for Genesis, in case you don’t know about it:

Apocalypse Weird: The White Dragon – Genesis is the story of the very beginning of an apocalyptic event as seen through the eyes of an eighteen-year-old girl. Nothing could have prepared her for what is about to happen and she has to face some seriously tough stuff before the end. During the thirty-six hours of terror that turn Kasey Byrne’s life upside down and strip her of everything dear to her, something inside her awakens. It is gift and curse alike for it can destroy her or turn her into the most powerful weapon against the evil that has reached the shores of our world.

Up until the  very moment I’m writing this, we have 25 reviews on Amazon and the launch is in progress. Here are the links to the book, in case you want to buy one:

http://bit.ly/gen-kindle
http://bit.ly/gen-nook
http://bit.ly/gen-kobo
http://bit.ly/gen-ibooks

reviewsred

 

Nothing happens without readers, and early reviewers are the backbone of any launch. I am very grateful to everyone who has reviewed the book so far. Thanks so much for your support.

The party is happening here (from 5 to 11pm EST)

https://www.facebook.com/events/1591971234379024/

Cheers,

Stefan

Get Genesis!

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The Apocalypse Just Got Personal

 

I don’t like small talk. I can hang in there for a while during a party but anything beyond that is hard for me. You can only say so much before there is nothing else to talk about for the moment, unless its meaningful to some extent. (Disclaimer: small talk does not include discussing geeky stuff. That is exempt and not considered small talk. Please feel free to discuss the latest Daredevil episodes with me at your pleasure and convenience ;-).

I feel the same way with my books. You won’t find small talk in them. Maybe a little, as comic relief or to foreshadow something further down the road. I’d rather say what needs to be said and stop there. Here is one reaction someone hopefully displays after reading AW: The White Dragon – Genesis:

 

 

When I sat down to write the Genesis, I wanted to make it personal. An up close account of the first thirty six hours of a terrifying apocalyptic event through the eyes of an eighteen-year-old girl who, up until that moment, had been just that — a teenager, with all the hopes and dreams, heartbreaks and tribulations that come with it. Her level of preparedness was equal to zero. Other than a baseball bat — her dad had insisted for her to keep one in her car when he gave her the car for her birthday that very morning — she had neither weapons nor a flashlight or even a pocket knife. She wasn’t even wearing flip-flops.

Kasey

As I have experienced throughout my own life, any growth on my part was usally accompanied by an unsettling feeling that ranged from basic anxiety to and beyond straight-out fear. Sometimes it was hidden, expressed in ways that didn’t look like it at all. At other times, it was plain terror. I’d come out on the other side stronger, sometimes wiser but always just a bit further up the path. Not sure why I’m mentioning this other than that most of my characters go through hell and back to search for what they are looking for, just like me.

But for Kasey, the apocalyptic event is only the trigger for something larger than herself. The apocalypse, as heart wrenching as it is for her, is solely the spark that ignites something in her that she had no idea existed. Sometimes the situation at hand isn’t about the situation at hand. There’s more at stake. There’s meaning behind the small talk and for Kasey, the first part of her story, Genesis, is exactly that: a beginning. The beginning of something bigger than herself, something she’s afraid of, something she fights and doesn’t want to accept. The refusal of the call to adventure is what Joseph Campbell called it. It is when life tells you that there’s more here than the eye can see. That there is more to you than what you know at this very moment. That you are born for things that are greater than you can possibly imagine.

“Use the force, Luke! Trust me!” That line has been beaten to death. However, the meaning behind it is still intact, bruised maybe but still there, dusting itself off. Kasey has kept a diary throughout her life but had never seen the patterns, the signs, that indicated that she was not just a happy little teenage girl but that there was more. Much more.

As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for the final e-file for the Advance Reader Copies. It’s been a great ride. I very much hope that you enjoy the book. I loved writing it and the story has stayed with me until today, has bugged me to explore the continuation of it and accompany my characters all the way to the end.

Good luck!

Stefan

Get Genesis Now!

[book size=”150″ slug=”apocalypse-weird-genesis” desc=”0″ purchase=”0″ notereviews=”0″ excerpt=”0″]

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On Dragons Uncommon and Writing the Weird

Genesis_FT_FINALAbout five minutes after I had read the first few lines in Nick Cole’s description of what Apocalypse Weird would be, the beginnings of a story formed in my imagination. I told Nick, “You had me at Black Dragon.” Those were the third and fourth words in his description, starting with Imagine a…

I wanted to write an action novel, a supernatural episode of 24, in real time, with Jack Bauer being eighteen-year-old Kasey Byrne, my main gal in the story. But I didn’t want only action. I wanted an overriding philosophy, a greater story arc spanning different worlds and times and ancient training grounds and a revelation for my main character at the end that would turn the tables and set the stage for the next book. The underlying mythology crept up piece by piece and mid-way through the story, I knew I had at least two more books in my head. At the end, there was material for four, plus this one.

Kasey Byrne is a girl who loves to surf, who just had her last day of high school and who celebrates her eighteenth birthday on the beach, on the eve of summer solstice. She thinks she is just a regular teenager with all the hopes and dreams and disappointments that come with it. Her parents are divorced and she’s navigating her way through life just as any teenager would. She has no idea who and what she is and what she could become. Like so many of us, she doesn’t know her own potential. During the storm of terror and the thirty six hours we spend with her in book one, something inside her begins to awaken – something she has dreamed of and written pages upon pages in her diary about without knowing what it is.

When I started writing, I had a very specific goal: I wanted the book(s) to be epic and reach beyond a linear, two-dimensional story to a different place entirely. To write a book about a dragon is tricky. It has been done so many times and even though dragons are amazing and extraordinary creatures, stories about them can become cliched very easily. I didn’t want a cliche. I wanted to take the cliche and turn it on its head and inside out and make it into something completely new and exciting. I hope I succeeded. The time is almost here. On April 21, 2015, it will be up to you, the reader, to decide if it worked.

Until then, until the day the White Dragon takes flight, I remain very truly yours,

Stefan

P.S. This is Kasey’s car. Let’s just say this is a “before” picture ;-). In the story it’s light blue instead of green. She got it on the day of her 18th birthday. Unfortunately, this was also the day when the apocalypse reached the shores of Long Island.

Jeep

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