“Imagination is the beginning of creation,” according to George Bernard Shaw. Where does the imagination begin and where will it take you next? For me, it started with a game.
I began playing Dungeons and Dragons in college in the early 1980s. I had always been interested in medieval fantasy, magic and the supernatural and this was an opportunity to escape the monotony of college and work by spending long weekends doing nothing but ordering pizza, drinking beer and playing D&D with my friends.
I took my books and dice with me when I joined the Navy in 1983. I found many Sailors who played and we formed a tight-knit group, playing on off-duty hours in whatever space we could find, from the mess decks to an aircraft elevator maintenance room.
This is where the Forever Avalon series began. It started as a recurring dream. I was a young Sailor, separated from his new wife and child by thousands of miles of ocean. When you combine that with 16 hour workdays and 3-4 hours of D&D, it can lead to troubled sleep.
I started having these dreams about falling overboard in a storm and finding myself on an island of medieval magic and fantasy and trying to survive in this new world. Eventually, my family came into in my dreams, as a way of bringing me closer to them during the long deployments at sea. It seemed like every time I went to sea, the dream was right there with me. Even after I stopped playing D&D, I still had the dream throughout my 23 year career in the Navy.
My last deployment was in 2001 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. It was then I decided to start writing it down. It was a long process, putting together the dream as one story.
I used my family as inspiration for the Drake family in Forever Avalon. Their unique personalities, quirks and mannerisms made it easy to create these characters. Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh, was based on the last character I played in D&D. He was a Half-Elf Fighter/Thief/Magic User who wielded two swords, wore a cloak of invisibility with many pockets that acted like a “Bag of Holding” and a dragon as a familiar. This was the beginning of Forever Avalon.
I also wanted to fit my story into a mythology that was familiar to people. That’s when I decided to incorporate the Authurian legend of Avalon, Merlin, Percival and Excalibur, taking a “what happened next” approach in the mythos. This completed my book and, to tell you the truth, once I finish my first novel, the dreams went away and I never had it again.
After I published Forever Avalon in 2009, I immediately started writing my next book in the series. I originally wanted to do a prequel, to tell the story of Bryan MoonDrake’s life on Avalon before his family arrived, but my heart wasn’t into it. I wanted to continue the story where I left off. So I took the pages I already wrote for the prequel and used them as flashback sequences to help tell the story of The Dark Tides.
Like the title says, “Avalon is forever” and I want to continue telling the story of the MoonDrake family wherever it will take me.