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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Drew J. Storm shares the inspiration behind his new book, Dark Relics, and his creative writing process.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Drew J. Storm about his life and career, what inspired him to start writing, and the story of his new book, Dark Relics.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I am Drew J. Storm. By day, I run a nursery bustling with lawyers, each showcasing their unique rendition of a temper tantrum. It’s still astonishing to me that my kids haven’t come anywhere close to that tantrum count, despite their dedicated efforts. By night, I turn into a caffeine-dependent word wizard with a knack for spinning tales that leave readers simultaneously hooked and sleep-deprived, all in a valiant effort to escape from those never-ending, senseless tantrums.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
Since I was little, random conversations would pop up in my head, which I would watch unfold as an innocent bystander, sometimes for weeks at a time. I never told anyone, as hearing voices is bad, even in the wizarding world of Harry Potter… Then one starry night it struck me that I could transform these thoughts and musing into something tangible.
When did you take a step to start writing?
The journey began with a whisper of an idea that grew into a clamor too loud to ignore. The tipping point came when my mind was overflowing with characters, dialogues, and scenes demanding to be set free and I finally had some time on my hands to do so.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Birthing my first literary creation was like nurturing a delicate sapling into a towering oak, which I would then cut down, ruthlessly, time and time again, until I reached the point of no return, my axe worn and my muscles weary. Once I reached that critical crossroads, it dawned on me that throwing in the towel now would essentially nullify all the groundwork I had laid before. So, fueled by my ever-persistent OCD tendencies, I was on a mission to conquer that finish line, no matter what it took.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Dark Relics?
The challenges were endless. You see, my characters are quite the rebellious bunch. They never seem to adhere to the meticulously crafted outline I’ve set for them. Instead, they take unexpected detours, leading me down winding paths I never anticipated. They would occasionally introduce me to the dreaded writer’s block accompanied by sleepless nights, but I must admit, even if they were the instigators, their quirks and unpredictability made the writing journey all the more exhilarating.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
Creating the protagonist was quite the adventure. I decided to switch things up a bit, to steer away from the usual male hero archetype. I envisioned a protagonist who breaks the mold – a strong-willed woman. I played with the element of surprise, intentionally keeping her identity a mystery in the beginning, making readers curious to unravel her story. She wasn’t the conventional lone warrior; instead, she emerged as a symbol of collective strength, supported by her diverse friends. Her path mirrored the unsung heroes we encounter in real life – resilient, clever, and ready to face any challenge.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
Just like with the protagonist, I aimed for a fresh take. I concealed his identity, keeping readers guessing. What makes him truly intriguing is his perspective – he firmly believes he and his team are the heroes of the story, on a mission to save the world. However, his methods don’t quite align with the other characters’ visions of salvation. This internal clash of motivations, deceit, betrayal and the blurred line between hero and villain were inspired by the complexities of human nature itself. It’s a reminder that every character, just like every person, has their own truth and perspective.
What is the inciting incident of Dark Relics?
Believe it or not, the inciting incident of the book is rooted in reality. In 2022, an actual discovery took place – pterosaur bones were unearthed in Mendoza, Argentina. I took this factual event and gave it a fantastical spin. I introduced the idea of viable genetic material within those ancient bones. Imagine a team of intrepid scientists embarking on a journey to the very site to authenticate these extraordinary remains. This journey would set off a chain reaction of events that transcends the boundaries of science and leads them into a realm of murder, mystery, mayhem and dragons, of course.
What is the main conflict of Dark Relics?
The heart of the story’s conflict emerges from the repeating patterns of history and the failure to glean wisdom from past errors. The pterosaur bones, initially remnants of the past, become the catalyst for a new creation: dragons. This sudden emergence stirs a divide among people; some welcome these magnificent beings with open arms, while others harbor intense opposition. The heart of the conflict lies in the fundamental question: should these dragons be allowed to exist? The uncertainty intensifies as the possibility arises that these creatures might fall into the hands of those with ill intentions. Complicating matters further, what if those perceived as the wrong hands are actually the right ones, and their motives are misunderstood? The struggle to determine the fate of these dragons and their potential impact becomes a gripping battle of ideologies and intentions.
Did you plot Dark Relics in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I set out on this journey armed with a well-defined outline, intending to adhere strictly to its course. While I had a clear sense of where the narrative was headed, I made the rooky mistake to allow my characters to guide me through uncharted territories, embracing the exhilarating uncertainty of discovery with each keystroke, which ultimately led me into a maze of complications.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Dark Relics need?
My editor deserves a medal for deciphering my first few drafts. We’re talking less of a red pen and more of a red paint roller. I am still traumatized.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Embrace the chaos. Allow your creativity to flow freely, unburdened by the shackles of perfection. Let your characters lead the way, even if it means venturing off the beaten path. Remember, the journey is as rewarding as the destination, and the best stories often emerge from the wreckage of meticulously planned plotlines. Most importantly, don’t give up.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Let’s just say that my next book might involve time-traveling dragons, mischievous ghosts, and intergalactic love quartets. Expect tales that tickle the funny bone, stir the imagination, and venture into uncharted territories of wit and wonder. Intrigued yet?
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Proud? More like ecstatic! It’s like birthing a dragon and watching it take flight. Was it worth the effort? Absolutely. And the sleepless nights. And the questionable amounts of caffeine. And the everlasting red-pen-trauma.
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