Creating a fantasy adventure can be more exciting than living the fantasy adventure. Although extremely rewarding and fun, designing such literature takes preparation and persistence, mixed with wild imagination and orderly, but fascinating storytelling.
As author of the So Many Secrets fantasy adventure series, I have discovered the joy and challenges of writing, especially in creating five published books that are sequential (two more books to follow). One of the challenges was to fashion believable characters, which readers could relate to and empathize with as they enter into one incredible adventure after another.
The series storyline is based on hidden secrets that are first divulged to two preteens: the precocious Nina Fithian and her timid sidekick, Piper Slack. Through intention or serendipity, they enter into places and encounter creatures that no human has ever witnessed before. Through the series, the two are joined by other “Jersey girls.” As more secrets are revealed, their courage, faith, determination, and friendship are repeatedly tested, while they contend with the unthinkable and put their lives on the line.
As writer, I desired to create each chapter’s end with the “itch” for the reader to turn the page. Likewise, each book ends with an epilogue that extends beyond the main story--
bridging that book with the next with a few mysterious hints and clues.
Perhaps the greatest task in writing the series was focusing on bringing the reader into the actual adventure. When asking one of my daughters her thoughts of The Promise of Zandra (Book One), she responded, “You write with a lot of detail.” I asked, “But did you take the adventure with the girls?” Her reply was telling. “I was there with them all the way!” Mission accomplished! What I’d like to share are examples of what I experienced in trying to bring the reader into the adventures.
In The Jabezzan Box (Book Two) Nina and Piper meet their counterparts from the mirror world before entering into a rescue mission to save their friends of the gnomen kingdom. Part of the plan entails Nina and Gibeon, a young gnomen warrior, entering the Looking Glass Realm, an impossible dimensional world of reflection. So what is that world like? Is it inhabited and by whom? By what restrictions or mechanisms is it possible for humans or gnomes to enter this dimension? So many questions lead to so many challenges. To invent this land took planning and a great deal of layering the fantasy, so that which does not make sense will make sense. Perhaps the greatest struggle was describing what it was like for Nina to pass through the glass barrier with the many strange and alien sensations, coupled with inner terror of the unknown.
In The Shadows of Virtulon (Book Three), Nina and Piper are compelled to stop the evil Shadowmaster from having his forces invade our world. To accomplish this daunting task, the teens needed to enter the shadowlands—the world of Thyatira. To create this effect, I wrestled with the method of transitioning the pair from our dimension into this alien landscape. The means was accomplished by using two asynchronous, oscillating strobe lights within a dark room. But the more challenging task was to explain the sensations that Nina felt when she slipped her hand into the lighted aperture and touched the hand of Alouétte, her shadow counterpart. Describing the fears and wonders of both girls was fun but unnerving, as I wanted the reader to experience this as if they were in this darkened, distorted world.
An underground trip around the world was the demand for writing Braving the Bunyip (Book Four), which included and deadly pandemic and a horrifying assignment. Two more Jersey girls, Josie and Agnetha, appear in the impossible trek to find the cure for a deadly plague. During the storyline, one challenge was creating the means of conveyance. However, more difficult was permitting the four girls two become two-dimensional in order to escape killer monsters. I had to write and rewrite these scenes, while collaborating with the illustrator (Stacy Cislo), to make sure the explanations were congruent with what was depicted through artwork.
These are but a few examples of being emotionally and logically descriptive in order to make the fantasy adventure work. If you are motivated to write such literature, I challenge you to let your imagination run wild and strive to create a compelling story that pulled the reader into the adventure. Although it will take much effort and hard work, the end result can be a very special message and journey for those who open your pages.
C. D. Koehler, Author
So Many Secrets: The Series
Having been a school administrator for most of his professional career, Koehler didn’t start writing seriously until encouraged by his oldest daughter in 1996. Since then, Koehler began writing science fiction stories and later authored a fantasy/adventure series for middle school/young adult readers titled So Many Secrets, where the main characters or “Jersey girls” (Nina & Piper) are patterned after his daughters. Since then he has written 6 more books in the series. Currently, he lives with his wife in Northeast Ohio and has two daughters.
International Writers Association / FHSR