Q & A for Heroes of Time

What is "Heroes of Time Legends"?

"Heroes of Time Legends" will appear as part of the title if the book is a tie-in novel of the "Heroes of Time" series.  These are full-length novels in their own right.  They feature characters, settings, and/or plotlines that will, at some point, intersect with the main novel series.  The main novel series starts with Heroes of Time: The First Ethereal (working title; note how "Legends" is not part of the name).

You might see the origin stories for some characters from the main series featured under the "Legends" moniker.  In other cases, such as with Murdoch's Choice, you'll see an entire plot and set of characters introduced as a "Legends" story.

It all ties together, and they are all part of the "Heroes of Time" series.

Heroes of Time Legends: Murdoch's Choice is considered Book 1 of the "Legends" novels.  Thus, you can expect that the story of Captain Zale Murdoch and perhaps other characters and themes from this book will intersect with the storyline started in The First Ethereal.

Heroes of Time Legends: The Healer is a prequel novel that has been written as a potential starting point into the entire series, whether the next book you read is Murdoch's Choice or The First Ethereal.  It is a standalone novel but hints at themes and characters present in the other books.  It was written after Murdoch's Shadow, Book 2 of the "Legends" novels, and reading it will provide a nice payoff for readers in Book 3.

What Is the "Main" Storyline vs. the "Legends" Storylines?

Both are a part of the "Heroes of Time" series.  The tie-in "Legends" novels explore characters and plots which intersect with the main storyline, either currently or at some point in the future.  This can have the effect of "origin" stories, or otherwise side-stories worthy of exploring through an entire novel.

A simple breakdown of the "main" versus "tie-in" storylines is as follows:

Heroes of Time  "Main": Epic-fantasy saga concerning the true legendary Heroes of Time and their significance throughout the past, present, and future within the world of Eliorin.  These novels are expected to run at 150,000 words or more per volume.
Heroes of Time Legends  "Tie-In": Fantasy adventure stories with relevance to the legends surrounding the Heroes of Time.  So far, these volumes are running in the range of 65-120,000 words.

Why Does the Series Begin with the "Legends" Books?

That wasn't the original intention, but I'm glad it turned out that way.  Murdoch's Choice (Book 1) and The Healer (prequel) are both reasonable lengths (65-75K words) for debut novels, making them effective springboards into the rest of the series.  Those books are fast-paced and full of larger-than-life characters thrown into daring adventure, the sort of books many find appealing to start a new series.  It's an easier sort of book to start with than, say, a novel of more than 150,000 words...which, honestly, is more like what I'm used to writing.  Following these first books, the scope and size of the novels tend to get more epic.

Again, please note that the "Legends" books are tie-ins to the main series that will start with The First Ethereal.

Are Any of the Characters Based on Real People?

My usual rule of thumb is not to base characters directly on people I know.  It can be a tricky thing to attempt, as I would hate to inadvertently offend any such person.  That said, in some specific situations I have based characters off of people I know.

Zale Murdoch is the prime example.  This character is based off of Daniel "Skip" Person, a bygone friend, colleague, and member of the family.  He and I had actually brainstormed this character together in the year or so before his passing.  Skip was a unique sort of person - a loving Pop-Pop, a brash jokester, a cerebral history buff, an avid reader, a wizard of coined phrases, a man of infectious positivity - an all-around fun guy to be around.  I had to have a character based on him, and he was onboard from the start.  I just wish he could be here to finally see it happen.

Yancy "Fump" Willigan of Zale's crew is another one, based on one of my oldest friends, Luke.  Luke is another person I know whose personality is just all-around fun.  Yancy, with his easy-going personality underpinned by  intelligent competence, makes him a great character to base off of Luke.  Plus, he was also a friend and colleague of Skip's in real life.

There are a few others that are more loosely based on people I know.  The above two are probably the only characters that are based directly off of real people, in the sense that, in my head, I took the real people and doppelganged them into characters within my fantasy world, thrusting them into whatever adventure ensues.

What About the Use of AI (Artificial Intelligence)?

I attest here and now that I do not and will not use AI-generated content to any extent in the planning, outlining, writing, or any other phase of my work.  Programs like ChatGPT, OpenAI, and plenty of others are a hot-button topic these days, especially in creative fields like writing and illustrating.  That is because such programs feed from countless creative works out in the world, with little or no credit to those sources.

Similarly, we at Heroes of Time Productions do not make use of AI-generated artwork.  All the illustrations you see from us for actual characters, covers, front/back-matter, and picture books (such as "Penny Pangolin") are created by real-life, professional artists.

I believe very much in the "human touch" when it comes to creative content.  Some people will argue that AI is a useful tool to help in planning/outlining, getting out of writer's block, solving stuck plot points, and so on.  I reject this mentality as a personal choice for my own work.  It is far too tempting for AI to become a crutch, allowing writers to shortcut their solutions and derailing what that writer could have come up with by struggling a little bit to find the answer.  I believe very much in the organic process of figuring things out.  There can be no greater frustration than hitting a rut in the plot...but there is also immense satisfaction in finding the solution, which inevitably always happens with enough thought and deliberation.

Everyone is entitled to their personal opinions.  I happen to believe that where we're going with AI is very dangerous for society.  That is not something I desire to be a part of.

When it comes to AI for any of my creative work, it's a hard no from me.

What About Graphic Content?

Who doesn't love talking about graphic content, am I right?

When it comes to things like violence, sex, and language, I'm usually pretty moderate.  I shy away from getting very graphic in these areas.  A comical innuendo might show up here and there.  If my novels were movies (one can hope, right?) I would probably expect them to be rated PG-13, as you would expect of most fantasy and sci-fi films, from Lord of the Rings to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

You will not see the "f" or "g-d" words in my books.  You'll rarely see any of the other common "swear words," to be honest.  In general language in my books is pretty mild.  I personally do not like when authors make copious use of bad language.  In my writing I tend to lean toward more creative expressions.  For example, in Murdoch's Choice, Zale says "Unhand me, you quill-headed twits!" when it would've been easy to use a more common expletive instead.

My books frequently contain detailed and exciting sequences of action and battle.  In fact, I'm fairly well known for this.  There are wars and battles and duels and confrontations, both with weapons and with special powers.  Injuries and death are natural results of such situations.  I feel it's important to portray adequately heightened stakes, tension, emotions, and realism in these moments.  I usually don't stray into extremely gory territory here.  I write fantasy adventure stories, not horror.  Expect such action scenes to be in the PG-13 range.

I want "strong" moments in my books to mean something, and so I am cautious about overuse.  If characters are frequently killed off, that arc gets a bit diluted.  If bad language is rampant, then strong words start to lose their effect, and it can become obnoxious and off-putting.  If people are shuffling to the bedroom for a romp every other chapter...well, you get the idea.  Moderation.  Generally PG-13.  If you want to ask about this more specifically, feel free to contact me.

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