Soulwoven was conceived in the back of a school bus.
Racy, huh? The gestation period was pretty long though. It took more than ten years for the book to grow from a little blastocyst of an idea about a hero, his brother, and their friends into a story capable of eating, drinking, and breathing on its own.
Man, this birth thing is a better metaphor than I thought it’d be.
Anyway, the book (and its sequel, Soulwoven: Exile, out 12/12/2014), is primarily about identity, in no small part because it was conceived during years when I was actively forming mine. Every major character in the story loses something that anchors his or her identity, and the human element of the narrative (it’s also got dragons and magic and plenty of flash-bang-whiz) is about each of them trying to either reclaim it or replace it.
After all, that’s what drew me to fantasy. Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII) and Tanis Half-Elven (Dragonlance: Chronicles) gave me examples of people who were kind of like me struggling with their identities at a time when I really needed them, and I wanted to pass on the favor to a new generation of readers.
I've also learned, now that I’m older, that you never really stop forming and re-forming your identity. Or at least I haven’t yet, and even my 92-year-old grandmother’s not done. So I think stories about identity have value no matter your age or station in life.
Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to the role of Kickstarter in Soulwoven’s life.
It was the midwife, really.
In 2012, after years of trying to get published traditionally, I embraced a shift in my identity as a writer and dove into the indie thing. Soulwoven was featured by Wattpad.com, and it got enough interest there that I decided it was worth publishing on my own. I was leery of committing a lot of money to it (because I didn't have a lot of money to commit), so I turned to Kickstarter for help.
And Kickstarter was great. Eighty people contributed more than $3,000 to make publishing the book possible. That was all I needed. Eighty people. Try approaching a publisher with a manuscript and asking them for a $3,000 investment on the guarantee you’ll sell eighty books. See what happens.
Soulwoven launched quietly. It’s been a modest success commercially, about on par with what I would've expected if it had been published by a small press.
But artistically, it’s been a huge success. I've grown as a writer because I put out that novel, Soulwoven: Exile has benefited enormously from that growth. Not many writers are excited about seeing the first reviews come in for a new book. It’s supposed to be a terrifying experience.
It isn't for me.
Soulwoven was conceived in the back of a school bus. It was birthed with the help of a small community of wonderful people. It’s growing into something wonderful.
And I couldn't be a prouder papa.