Mike Forward could have done what most do during time off from work with a newborn at home: nap in between the bouts of joy and panic.
Yet the new father-for-a-second time didn’t fall into that usual routine entirely. By day he took care of the family, but in those precious off moments he wrote a book.
Now available for purchase through Amazon, either in paperback form or in a Kindle e-edition, is Forward’s Alex Quinn and the Gemstones of Dunkel.
He says the book takes inspiration from series like The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
And like most exciting fantasy stories, the story of his book began with a trek through the snow.
“Where it began, I guess you could say it was last winter. I was walking to work one day through the snow and I just had an idea about two boys whose father disappeared and they find this stone that links them to this other world where they go looking for him,” he said.
That idea lodged in his mind for months, until his leave from work gave him time.
“I usually don’t get much further than writing a few pages, scrap it, [say] ‘that was a bad idea’ and call it a day,” he said. “But being off on parental leave now I got to the point where I sat down again and this idea was still in my head.”
He quickly bashed out an outline to his story, a very basic synopsis which didn’t even include character names.
Once the overall plot was worked out, he went to work fleshing out the characters and scenes.
In the writing you may notice words taken from other languages, for instance the main bad guys in the book are called the Krieg, taken from the German word for war.
“Once I got passed about 20 or 30 pages it was rolling at that point,” he said.
Once his manuscript was completed, he took the draft to his wife to get a new perspective, and let her go to work with an editing pen.
“She took to editing it, she liked it a lot, and that was the process of how that was written.”
Even though he has two boys of his own now, he said there aren’t many direct parallels to his kids and the ones in the story.
“I certainly hope I’m not going anywhere for seven years,” he said, referring to the missing father of the story. But there are traits in the characters that he hopes for in his own family.
“I like to think that my boys would exhibit some of the traits of the two boys in the book, which is generally kindness and thinking your way through problems, rather than just bully your way to the easy solutions,” he said.
That was one of his own mandates in the story, go for clever solutions and wits, rather than large scale battles.
Depending on how the reception to his book goes, Forward has ideas for continuing the story.