Jacob Holo: It is with great pleasure that I present a guest post by indie fantasy author Charles Yallowitz, who has just released his third book in the Legends of Windemere series. Charles, take it away! 🙂
Charles Yallowitz: At the age of thirteen, I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons, which opened the door to several other dice-based roleplaying games. This hobby lasted through college and a few years beyond. If you think I’m outing myself as a nerd/geek/dweeb/whatever then understand that you would get this vibe from me within fifteen minutes of us talking. That’s being generous because I look the part, but that’s not the point of this.
When I hit college, I realized that the characters I was playing and the games I was either in or running would make good stories. So, for some games, I asked permission to write books based on the adventures and for others games I simply tested out characters. This method of story and character testing is what led to the creation of Windemere and many of the major heroes that I use. Unfortunately, this method also came with a major flaw that I did not realize until I sat down to write Beginning of a Hero.
The flaw is that what works for a game does not always work for a book. Very few secondary character conversations happen in games and many games devolve into battle after battle after battle. Your heroes start incredibly weak and level up, which does not translate well to a book setting because leveling is rather abrupt. Imagine if you are reading a book, a battle happens and suddenly one of the heroes instantly knows archery. In the book, you would have to give the character a reason to learn, time to learn, and a teacher, which takes away from the overall story. The ways to counter this is to either have the new skills learned between books or start the heroes off with a decent level of skill. I’m not talking perfect, but able to handle themselves in whatever role they are designed for. The best example of this is the spellcaster Nyx who appears in my second book. In the game, she began with only one or two combat spells, which led to her getting knocked out at least once per game. In the characters defense, the player (now my wife) was new to the hobby and had a habit of rushing into battle like she was a warrior. It was adorable, but not a good thing to transfer to a book. So, I had her start with incredible magical power and her challenge came from keeping it under control and fine-tuning her abilities. This made the book version and game versions incredibly different in ability, evolution, and personality.
Another part of this flaw is that many players will act out a character in either the same way or so off-the-wall that you have to change the character for the book. Noble heroes are the most common because they are the easiest to play, but there is very little difference in personality for these types. This is where character flaws and strategies come in. For example, two noble heroes that appear in Legends of Windemere are differentiated by one being a reckless warrior and the other being a strategist warrior. In a game, the reckless warrior is more likely to die because of a bad roll of the dice. So, for many characters I had to design new personalities with more depth, which is easier to do in a book because the author makes the rules. My psychotic vampire from World of Darkness can be more monstrous and violent in the book than he ever was in the game because he doesn’t have stats to prevent his rages.
One of the biggest downsides to using games for book influence is that a person can leave the game when they stop having fun or have something better to do. Legends of Windemere never made it to the end of the game. I’m not even sure it made it to the halfway mark. I do know that over the years several players left for various reasons, leaving gaps in the plot and issues for my books. So, you can probably figure out which characters belonging to players who left. At one point, over half the gaming group left, which left me with a weekend of figuring out what to do with the characters. Eventually, I decided that I would stop following the game and use it as a loose outline for stories. The game could change its plot and only we would know, but I couldn’t make essential characters expendable in the book after giving them major build-ups. I remember the biggest disaster that this came up was when a character was introduced and the player left college in less than a year. Within that year, this character was signified as an essential part of the plot’s prophecy and developed a deep relationship with another character. So, this character went through several kidnappings, comas, and other instances until the gamemaster and I had a fight on what to do. He wanted to kill her off while I didn’t see how the game could continue without her. This is probably a perfect example of the different mentalities behind games and books. In the end, I had to redesign the character for the books and redesign most of the events to include her because she was never around in the game. To this day, she is one of my favorite characters and I always feel sorry for some of the things I do to here.
I think of this topic a lot because I remember the characters and people that I gamed with every time I write the book scenes. Even the characters that I played are different than the one I spent years tracking stats and gear for. He has become a lot more powerful, a lot deeper, and a lot more believable. It is that last part that is strange to me because it really shows that when people play games of make-believe, they really don’t want to touch too much of reality. Many game characters lack flaws or are given minor flaws for the sole purpose of getting more points to increase stats. Rarely did you find someone who took a flaw because they wanted to act out the flaw because in the end for the players, the game was about winning and not about the story. It is a different mentality than the one of an author nurturing characters along their literary path. I have no sense of stats or dice when I write my scenes, which makes many of the game events impossible to transfer.
I would like to say that I treated every character with love and respect when I altered their backgrounds and skills to fit into Windemere. The truth is that some things simply could not be transferred and other things I never understood or liked in the first place. Heck, I’m still not sure about some of the character’s original backgrounds because they were never delved into in the game. I guess this is the risk people take when they try to transfer from a medium of multiple minds to a medium of the single mind.
Legends of Windemere: Allure of the Gypsies has Arrived!!!
The epic adventures of Luke Callindor and Nyx continue after their journey down the L’Dandrin River in Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.
Reeling from his failures in their previous adventure, Luke leads his surviving friends to his hometown. With his mind frayed and his confidence fractured, Luke must face the family and fiancée he left behind. It is a brief homecoming when the vampire Kalam attacks the village, forcing Luke and Nyx to break into his lair for the key to resurrecting a fallen warrior. It is a quest that will force both young heroes to reach new heights of strength and power that they never knew they had.
Can Luke and Nyx escape the lair of Kalam? And, what role will the orphaned gypsy Sari play in their looming destiny?
Wondering what you’re in for? Check out the praise earned by the first two installments of this high fantasy series.
Review Excerpts for Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero:
“I greatly enjoyed the vivid characters, the gripping plot, and the refreshingly unique writing style (present tense). ” – kdillmanjones
“This is a sophisticated and delightful read. I recommend this book to lovers of Fantasy or to General Fiction readers. The story is compelling enough to entertain a wide audience.” – John Howell
“One of the things that won me over was the bouts of humor. Especially in the beginning. “This is not possible! I am a Paladin!” I thought I was going to die with delight.” – C.N. Faust
Review Excerpts for Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower:
“Something I find unique about this fantasy novel that I don’t often find in others, is that the hero, Luke Callindor is rather of the unlucky variety. He does not get everything he asks for, he stumbles, falls, gets knocked down (literally)and taught lessons as he goes. This is helping him to grow into the hero that was promised in the first book.” – Ionia Martin
“Nyx is such a strong personality. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and more of the other characters, new and already known, with the rich tapestry of Windemere unfolding in between intense actions scenes and moments of kindness and budding friendships.” – Danielle Taylor
“Almost like the Harry Potter series. The books start out so young and innocent, but by the last book – watch out!” — Momto4Booklover
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.
Another big event to celebrate the debut of Legends of Windemere: Allure of the Gypsies is that I’m holding a Goodreads Giveaway! The prize is a paperback copy of ALL THREE LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE NOVELS. Winners will be picked at the end of December, so go HERE to enter the contest.