Guest Writer: Author of “The Equinox Trology” – DJ Stearns
Tell me a bit about yourself?
I grew up on a dead end street in Farmington Hills, Michigan. We were the last house on the street with the largest lot, surrounded by woods. My love for the outdoors started at an early age. I think my creativity started budding then as well. I used to build forts in trees and on the ground. I loved Legos and Constructs. My friends and I would build just about anything we could think of with whatever material we had available.
We moved when I was ten to a rural area. In high school I was in drama and loved biology classes. After school I participated in the musicals and even was on the mock jury team my senior year. I worked in the local grocery store during school and with the family construction business during the summer.
I went to Grand Valley State University where I majored in Film/Video Production. I made many projects and even worked on a few independent films produced in the state of Michigan. When I graduated, I worked in the TV field for three years producing, directing and editing various programs from a live TV show to local biographies.
Unfortunately, money wasn’t as forthcoming as I would have liked because I wanted to start a family. So after much self-reflecting I returned to work in the family business in construction. I help run and manage the business with my father and brother. I even took classes and am now a licensed builder.
I can say I consider myself to be extremely creative. I always had one of the best, if not the best project in the many classes I took in my academic career. I enjoy working with wood and creating things from scratch. I’ve been to Europe twice, which has helped me gain another perspective on life. I have always been fascinated with the Middle Ages in Europe, and the Constitution of the United States and what it represents.
It’s creativity and curiosity that drives me. Its people who can take nothing and rise to the top that inspires me to be better. I wrote this book to let out some creative energy and prove that I could do it just to challenge myself. Sci-Fi / Fantasy has always fascinated me because I enjoy reading what other creative people can do, and creating a world and cultures from scratch isn’t easy.
Tell me a bit about your Trilogy?
The Equinox Trilogy is about finding confidence in yourself and others. It’s about rising to the top and enduring the trials to complete a challenge. In the first novel I introduce the main characters and set up their backgrounds and personalities. I have them meet in unique ways that unexpectedly throw them together. They learn the importance of the main character and vow to help him succeed by reclaiming the lost jewels for the Gate key.
The second book will deal with finding two more of the jewels; learning twisting points of the main plot, and watching the characters grow and gain in power. While the final novel will resolve the main quest, and watch the companions learn the value of trust and friendship. I think the Equinox trilogy will be both exciting and memorable once it’s completed.
What inspired you to write Allies & Adversaries?
Stories that inspire me are TheHobbit, Willow and the Dragonlance: Chronicles. I like stories about rising to meet challenges by being drawn into an ordeal unwillingly, then becoming great by seeing the quest completed. I love the underdog story. This idea is the basis behind Allies & Adversaries.
The initial idea came to me while I was working one cold November day watching the snowfall through the window of machine I was operating. I was loading dirt from a pile into trucks to be hauled away, and the swirling of the snow around the piles formed the images in my head to write the prologue. Amazing what such a simple, stupid view can ignite in the minds eye.
Since then I have been able to plan my books while working. It helped pass the time and blocked out the drone of the engine. I had all three books pretty much ‘wrote’ in my head before I even finished Allies & Adversaries.
Is this a trilogy, or do you think you’ll write more in the series?
This story is strictly a trilogy. It was just supposed to be one big book, but after I started writing it, I realized it was going to run over 900 pages. I figured I should break it up. I have thought about writing a second trilogy to follow the first, but that’s way into the future. I want to get through this one first. I have a few stand-alone ideas for books I’d like to work on when I complete the Equinox Trilogy. In my collage days, I made an hour-long sci-fi movie as my senior project. It took me three semesters to shoot and edit. I would love to go more in depth and make it a stand-alone novel. So that will probably be my next project.
Who is your favorite character in your trilogy? Why?
Ah that’s a tough question. Having created all the characters, I feel attached to them all in some way, shape or form. I’m going to have to say Argon, simply because he’s loyal and immovable. He’s the type of person who has your back no matter the situation. He would never turn his back on a friend
Argon’s character is a little different from the others because he falls from grace and learns humility from it. All of the characters have some sort of personal tragedy and character flaws, but Argon’s stem from a horrible crime he was accused of and cast out of society. I created him as quiet and looking for a new purpose in life.
I don’t get into his character a ton in this novel, but he is one of my favorites. All the loose ends of Argon’s sub story will be wrapped up completely in volume three.
Are there similarities between you and any characters in your work?
My main character in the story, Gith Zu’Garthin, has a somewhat parallel life to me. I created Gith with having a physical handicap that is his source of both no self-esteem and ridicule. I never had a visible handicap, but I am hard of hearing. This always made large parties and events difficult. Going to a movie or seeing a speaker at an event was both awkward and uncomfortable because I had a very difficult time trying to understand what was being said. It felt like I was sitting in a quiet room, watching people react to the speaker, not knowing what was going on. As far as parties go, when people find out you can’t hear, they focus on that and constantly say ‘what’ like its supposed to be funny. I do own hearing aids, but unless you wear them, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like.
I wanted Gith to have something that would really put him at a disadvantage in the world. I wanted him to have a very difficult and troublesome life so the reader could grow with him as the story progressed. During medieval times, people were very superstitious about things that were different, and people who were viewed that way had a more difficult life than it already was. I find in a lot of movies and books, that one big event can change a person from a nobody to a somebody. I wanted Gith to grow and change, but I wanted it to take multiply events so it would seem more realistic. Hitting a target once doesn’t make you a marksman.
I wanted Gith to be shy and kind of a follower rather than a leader. He needs help from his friends to fulfill the role he is destined for. It takes a while to build confidence and learn to put your foot down when you have to.
Do you draw any parallels between your work and the real world?
While looking at current events, I don’t think I can draw too much together between my story and reality. I have always believed that the power of the individual can overcome a situation. I try to elevate this point in my novel, along with the idea of believing in your-self and having confidence. There are a lot of viewpoints in this world, but every one of them seems to think their view is right. Our world needs to be viewed as a shade of grey, rather than in black and white. I apply this idea in my book as well. Societies determine right from wrong, good from bad, and trying to push that onto others isn’t right.
Why did you select the period of time, and the character types?
I have always been fascinated with The Dark Ages in Europe, castles and swordplay. Fantasy novels have always captivated me just for those reasons, and I have been reading them since I was in elementary school. The time period was very questionable with laws and morals, while those in power ruled through fear and intimidation. Loyalty to family, honor and integrity were the characteristics that defined a person. Huge castles and the idea of magic always had my imagination running a mile a minute.
Having been to Europe twice and seeing ancient castles as well as the city of Rome makes me whistle in awe at what people could accomplish without heavy equipment and electricity. The ingenuity that went into building some of those structures is just incredible. The Vatican doesn’t have any reinforced concrete in it anywhere, yet the structure is just enormous. It is true for the pyramids and other ancient buildings. I chose this timeframe because it took both creative and hard people to survive.
My character choices go hand in hand with the legends of the ancient world. Giants, dwarves, elves, and magic were included in the tales told to explain the unexplainable natural events of the world. These characters go with the time frame and I wanted to include them in my story. I think without a little of the extraordinary, the fantasy genre would be very boring.
Is there something unique about your story that you’d like to highlight?
The one thing that I like about my story that I personally have never read in a fantasy book is the fact I put the name of the kingdom a human was born in as part of their name. For example, Gith Zu’Garthin is from the kingdom of Zuward; while Arthur Min’Swenzel is from Mineval. I don’t point this out anywhere in the story, but a few people who have read the book did notice it and thought it was a clever idea.
Another interesting theme I have in the story is the concept of good and evil are more a shade of grey rather than black and white like I see in most stories. Many books and movies have a definitive good guy and a definitive bad guy. My story, and book two will help clarify this even more, deals in perspectives from society as to what’s good and evil versus what everyone says is bad and good. I wanted to shy away from the norm, so to speak. I’m completely confident that the reader will enjoy this perspective in the book.
What was the biggest challenge you found to writing or publishing your book?
The most challenging aspect of writing the book was finding the time to actually write. Losing track of what I was writing or getting writers block was never a problem. I was able to step away from the story for a two or three month period, sit down at the computer, read the previous page and pick up where I left off like I had just wrote it the day before. But finding a decent amount of time to write; that was the problem. After my duties as a father were done, and any household issues that needed to be taken care of, I would sit at the computer and maybe knock out a half of page in an hour or two. After that it was off to bed. I’m hoping I can devote more time to the next book now that my kids are getting older.
The second tricky part was finding all the grammatical errors. It seemed like no matter how many times I reread my story; I always found some sort of error, be it a misspelled word, wrong word or typo. After running into this issue on more than one occasion, I started to get frustrated with the whole “writing thing.” But I got through it with help from family and friends. And any writers reading this, all I can say is stick to it, the story isn’t going to write itself.
When can we expect your next book?
Honestly, I don’t really know. I’m shooting for two to three years given I do have a full time job and a family. But, I’m currently working on book two. I’m already six chapters into the story, so that’s progress. So I ask my fans to please be patient, I’m doing my best.
For more information about Allies & Adversaries, check it out on Facebook. My book is available in hardcover; soft cover and digital download from any major bookseller. I would recommend digital download, which seems the simplest and cheapest thing to do.