A NOVEL HOBBY: Senior Ari Roberts has been writing a fantasy trilogy

15min

w.Liu.15minAri.11.14
KYLE CRAWFORD // PHOTO

What made you want to write a book?

I’ve always liked fantasy and such. I’ve always loved to read. My parents also love to read, and they were big fantasy people. I was introduced to The Lord of the Rings when I was very young. I like to tell people that my parents raised me on the Bible first and Tolkien second. But in seventh grade I had a very good English teacher who put a strong focus on creative writing. She encouraged us to write every day—which I still struggle with but I’m trying—and she encouraged us to carry a notebook everywhere we go just to have that to write whenever we wanted to. I do that to this day. That’s where my main inspiration came from.

How did you come up with the plot of the book?

The idea for this book—it’s the first of a trilogy that I’m trying to do—is a very long story line that I’ve been working with for a long while because I initially came up with it in seventh grade. Obviously, it’s changed a lot since seventh grade. I’ve had to get rid of some old ideas that were terrible, and a lot of the characters have been rewritten. I can’t think of one main inspiration that this whole series blossoms from. It’s just that it evolved overtime and became this monster basically.

What made you want to continue a book whose idea you created in seventh grade?

I have not been writing the entire time. It’s more just been scribbling out ideas (and) scribbling out characters. It’s the characters mainly that drive the whole thing. I made these characters and got really attached to them. Even now, all of them have changed so that they are nearly unrecognizable from their seventh grade state, which is good because I was not good at making characters in seventh grade. But I just didn’t want to let go of them. I loved telling their stories, and I’ve been working on it so long at this point it seems better to change (them) than to let them go.

When did you start writing the story?

I’ve tried many, many times to actually sit down and write it all out. Each time I’ve kind of lost focus, had another idea or had to rewrite the whole thing. It’s also a big thing that I’m not very organized, (and) I’m not very good at sticking to one project. So it’s been very hard to get out a whole draft. About two years ago for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I did write out the whole first draft for the book. Then, over the course of editing and working with the characters, I realized that it was all just really, really bad. Now I’m going to be rewriting it again, and hopefully this will be the last time. Well, not hopefully. I’m telling myself that this is going to be the last time I write it, and I’m going to send it to an editor, and it’ll be done, and I’ll move on.

How are you planning on getting the book you are working on published?

(My family) has a family friend who is an editor. That’s the first step. I haven’t thought as far as contacting publishers. I should probably get a book written first before I do that. But I do have a writing process, and I do have an editor that I can work with.

Has the Creative Writing Club had any impact on the characters and the story?

So I joined sophomore year. That is actually when I heard of National Novel Writing Month. If you don’t know about it, it’s in November. I’m actually getting ready to do it, and I’m working on my outline now. The idea is that you still down and write 50,000 words of your novel in a month. The point is to write every day to get the words out there without stopping to edit. This is perfect for me because, like I said, my problem is that I don’t write every day, I don’t write with an organized process, and I try to edit and everything become worthless. That’s why I can’t get anything finished. But NaNoWriMo helps me to not do that to a great extent. I found an outline procedure that I can actually get all of my ideas written down and laid out so that I can actually work with them and make something really, really good this time around. I’m actually very excited for that. So Creative Writing Club, the biggest contribution that it made specifically to this book is that I was introduced to NaNoWriMo sophomore year. Another very big contribution is that I am now the president of the Creative Writing Club. There’s just something about being in a community with lots of other creative people, you just really, really want to write stuff. I can’t help it; it’s just being around everyone. I also now lead the NaNoWriMo activities; well I lead a lot of things because I’m the president. I have helped people with their books. Short stories and poetry are not my thing, but I can still help people with character development and world building. I’ve lead workshops on those, and teaching is my second passion next to writing. It’s really helped me develop as a writer myself.

How many times have you participated in NaNoWriMo?

This will be my third time. I have attempted to do (the contest) in the summer, because there are summer sessions of NaNoWriMo that are more casual and is designed for people who have less free time during November. It should be a lot easier to do it during the summer because I have so much more time to dedicate, but for some reason I’ve never managed to do it. But NaNoWriMo is probably my favorite month of the year, and that’s including December which has Christmas and my birthday.

Have you made any designs for your book?

I actually have a sketch book. I do draw my characters a lot. I plan to design a front cover later. I have a map drawn out for the fantasy world that I have created because it does take place in a fantasy universe.

What is the plot of the story?

The general plot is that it is this fantasy world. The way that it’s set up is there is a Mainland that is just a regular planet. But above that are these floating islands, which are countries in themselves. The people down below are the Mainlanders and the people up above are Faryans. The Mainlanders are vaguely human, and the Faryans are vaguely Elvish. There is not a lot of interaction between these two. There is a lot of racism and discrimination between them. What happens is the Mainlanders, who are technologically far more advanced, invade and end up conquering much of the islands up above. Most of the characters are Faryan from the islands, and the first book follows them growing up within this war. One of the most important characters, her name is Topaz, is a child of a minor noble family. (She) ends up being displaced by the war, and she actually ends up leading a resistance network to fight back against the Mainlanders. As the novel continues, the violence surrounding this resistance grows more and more. People start dying frequently, and Topaz eventually realizes, “Oh God, what have I done.” Overall, there are lots of characters. I love making characters with their own individual stories.

What are your main inspirations for this book and trilogy?

Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (because) I love the massive fantasy world and the long journeys. NaNoWriMo is another one. I can just talk about Tolkien for days; I freaking love (The Lord of the Rings). C. S. Lewis is another one, although less so. I am a Christian, so I do want to try to figure out how to try to incorporate some religious aspects in my novel. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet because it’s very, very difficult, but I think it might take a C. S. Lewis-esque form (and) maybe have (an) Aslan in there somewhere as a cameo. There is some kind of steampunky elements in there I guess. The Mainland weapons and stuff kind of have that aesthetic. Those are the big ones. Basically every time I read a book, I have to be careful what I read. Because if I read a book, anything I try to write or create for months afterwards will look like that book. I try to be careful with what I read, especially for NaNoWriMo.

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