Had you asked me a few years ago if I thought I could ever write a book, my answer would have been simple: Impossible!
Though it had always been a dream of mine, I used to assume I’d never find enough hours in my day to make it happen. How remarkable now, with the imminent release of my debut novel, Below, published by Turner Publishing Company, that I can proudly call myself an author.
For you see, my chosen career path after university resulted in me becoming a chartered professional accountant. Trained as a number-cruncher, I was hired to be the chief financial officer for an organization in downtown Vancouver, and I was soon facing huge demands and a heavy workload. My free time was a scarce commodity.
Yet during that very same period, I also had a concept for a story that had been percolating inside my head for many years. As the months passed by, the urge to share my idea grew stronger, until I finally reached the point where I felt absolutely compelled to do something about it.
And so I wrote. I scrounged every spare minute in my evenings or on my weekends, and I made a firm commitment to keep sitting at my computer until my thoughts were soaring as quickly as my fingers could fly over the keyboard. Even for all that typing, Chapter One still took nearly three weeks to write; the second chapter demanded almost as much effort. But despite my slow, steady progress, I loved the creative process, and soon there was no stopping me. I had found my calling. I was driven to keep going. I didn’t want to lose the momentum I had generated by taking that daunting first step to compose my opening sentence.
People often wonder what inspired me to write when I was overwhelmed with the commitments of my fulltime job, and without a doubt, my imagination drew upon many significant experiences in my life. Living on the West Coast of British Columbia has always been a great source of inspiration – the oceans, the forests, the very real threat of earthquakes, the heavy storm clouds hanging low overhead as if the sun will never break through!
However, it was actually a summer job as a teenager that initially planted the seed for the unique worlds of Hokk and Elia.
When I was sixteen, I worked at a tree nursery that supplied saplings for reforestation programs, and I didn’t think a job could get any worse. Day after endless day, I found myself in a constant battle with the elements, be it the rain, the mud, or the relentless little flies that were always biting.
The nursery was located in a remote area, surrounded by soaring mountains that would poke above the mist whenever clouds rolled in. Gazing up at their high alpine meadows, I constantly wished I could fly off to spend the day on their slopes, leaving behind the rest of my coworkers to slave away in the fields far beneath me. “Above” always seemed like the ideal place to be, especially compared to the toil and drudgery of “Below”. I now suspect, however, that the bugs up on those mountains were probably much larger and more ravenous!
I chose to write a fantasy adventure novel for young adults because I was intrigued by the natural environment around me, and how more extreme circumstances might affect the lives of two teenagers when their physical worlds literally collide.
While Elia has been enslaved by class and drudgery, Hokk lives in almost complete isolation, and I have enjoyed exploring how each character discovers unexpected strength to survive epic challenges, yet at the same time questions their perception of reality.
So whether you have already finished reading Below, or you’re curled up in your favorite cozy chair, preparing to start on page one, enjoy the journey as you dare to venture to worlds unknown... Below, Above, and Beyond!