I hope that you’re all as psyched for the release of Divinity as I am. I’ve received a bunch of emails asking about the release… arguably a lot more than I expected, so let me thank you for that beforehand, that’s awesome! My answer is… soon, very soon. I’m just trying to work out a few bugs with the production of the hardcover. We’ve never done this before so we want to make sure it’s perfect.
Anyway, I wanted to give everyone a little background on this book and explain why it’s such a big deal of a release while the last two Magnifica’s weren’t as hyped. For that, we need to go back to 2005.
I was heading into my last year of college and had just finished writing my little piece of fan fiction known as Star Wars: The Face of Evil. It was a story surrounding completely original characters set in the Star Wars universe with cameos by the likes of Luke, Kyle, Han, R2, and Admiral Ackbar. I can’t go into much more detail about it because I used the central themes, and large parts of the storyline when I wrote another book that is waiting in the winds, but I will say that after I finished it and let people read it, they told me that I should try to get it published.
Published? Um… George Lucas (now Disney) might have something to say about that. I couldn’t afford the royalties and just kind of shrugged the suggestion off. However, it was at this point that I started thinking ‘Well if people liked this story, how would they feel about a completely original story written the same way? Could I pull it off? Up until now the only completely original stories I’ve written were all short stories…’
It was at this point that I took stock of several different subjects before sitting down to write Divinity. First, I said to myself ‘What do I know more about than the average person? What could I write a story about?’
The answer came very quickly, ‘Religion, mythology, fantasy, and history.’
Then I started thinking, “What story could I write that would incorporate all of these?”
I put the idea on the back-burner for a few weeks as I tried to sort out the different subjects and come up with themes. Then something wonderful happened… I saw a painting that gave me an idea…
Hugo Simberg’s Wounded Angel…
I studied the photo over and over and I thought to myself ‘So those two people helping the angel look to be mid to late 1800s or early 1900s (The painting was done in 1903 so that lends credence to this theory).’
I remember shaking my head and thinking, ‘I wonder what would have happened to an angel that appears in the same condition in the 1500s?’
Ahah! I had the bare bones of my story. Given what happened throughout history to people who claimed to be prophets, an injured angel being found would have caused ripples across the land and the religious paranoia of the time would have led people to conclude that this was a fallen angel that needed to be extinguished. Perfect! That’s what I’ll write about.
Within a few weeks, the first draft of Divinity was complete. I loved it, I thought it was perfect and I wanted to try to publish it. Admittedly, I was on a high at that point and wasn’t thinking clearly. I let two people read it and they both HATED it.
Well great… so now my first full length novel was a flop.
Then I went back and read it… first of all, it wasn’t a full length novel as generally speaking, full length novels are 80K+ words and mine came in at 68,004. Secondly… yeah, it was terrible. The angel was a weak damsel in distress, the main character was unlikable, it was all too simple. Plus I had painted the Christian faith in an extremely negative light and that was never my intention. I wanted to use this story to take a shot at the leaders of both the reformation and the Church at the time, not peoples’ beliefs in general.
There was no way around it, this story needed serious dismantling.
I rewrote the story again, this time adding a voyage to hell, and changing who my arch-villain was. A romantic element was added to the story, as were a few Protestant revolutionaries for a little more perspective. The story now came in at 85k so it met the criteria as a novel.
I reread it and was a lot more satisfied with the result, but it was still a grammatical mess and the ideas were all over the place, so I went back and -again- rewrote it. Upon this rewrite, I let one of my cousins and my wife read it (My wife is as critical as they come… and I love her for it). My wife hated it, still thought the main character was unlikeable. My cousin was far more diplomatic and said that there was just too much happening, half way through, you’re just waiting for it to end.
I rewrote it again, and then started trying to submit it to literary agents, but because I’d never been published before and the work was still admittedly rough… they didn’t pay it any mind.
At this point, I was completely discouraged. I’d had enough and abandoned Divinity all together. I still wrote some short stories and a few other things that I put up online for all to see, but I was done with Divinity. It went into my file drawer for two years.
At this point, I started playing games like Dragon Age and Skyrim. I started thinking to myself ‘You know, all these fantasy stories involving elves and dwarves all take place in either medieval worlds or post-apocalyptic time periods… what would modern day America be like with the introduction of elves and dwarves.
And so Magnifica was born.
Upon completing Magnifica, I handed it to my wife for review, ready to be once again torn apart. She loved it! I couldn’t believe it! She loved the story. I let three more people read it, and sure enough, it got high marks from them as well.
Two more books followed in the Magnifica series. Both did, and continue to do well (Thank you!).
After Gravestalker was released, I went back and looked at Divinity once again. I reread it one more time and realized, that yes, it wasn’t anywhere near as good as I had thought. My writing had drastically improved since I wrote that, and so it was time to re-tackle Divinity.
The first thing I wanted to do was go back and correct my previous mistakes. I didn’t want another bad review, so I went to my critics for help. How could I improve Divinity. Well… two major things came out of that discussion;
The main HUMAN character needs to be more likable and I needed to divide Divinity up. There were too many separate adventures under one cover. Fair enough, so I went about re-writing it.
First thing I did was slightly weaken my main human character to make him more… well human, and less of a person who could audition for Jesus. I brought him down to Earth and also removed a few of his darker acts. I also made him work to earn the trust of the angel. I brought the theme of prejudice into the story as a reason for the Angel’s distrust in humans. So now, his rescuing her from her initial peril would not be enough for him to earn her trust.
Next I lengthened certain scenes while eliminating others all together. It wasn’t an easy job, but I knew that it had to be done. Finally, it came down to me dividing the story in two. I broke it up, but could not make two coherent books out of the work. Try as I might, the second part, I couldn’t get past 40,000 words. There just wasn’t enough material to work with.
This was make or break for me. If I couldn’t figure something out, Divinity was going back in the drawer, probably forever. I started thinking about it, trying to figure out how I could make this work… how could I divide this up in a way to make it work?
It was at this moment that I came up with an idea. I can’t divide it into two independent books, but what about one epic novel with more than one story that ties into the main plot?
It took some doing, but I completely restructured the story from a single linear novel into a group of short stories and then divided those into book 1 and book 2. (Somewhat like the old testament and new testament.)
I reread it, correcting a few plot flaws and grammatical problems. This was a completely different story from the one I started out with. Not only that, but it worked now in a way that a person could put the story down after one of the internal stories and pick it up again later without having to read the whole entire thing to get the gist of what’s going on. I had it read and edited and now it received high marks.
Divinity was ready.
Following Magnifica’s success, I recruited Brett Warniers (See my cover post) about doing Divinity’s cover. Since he was the one who had broken the simplicity mold, I wanted something intense for Divinity.
That is where we are now. The cover is done and just waiting to be accepted and we’re still working a few of the bugs of the hardcover out.