I feel under the spell of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous bloodhound during my short bachelor days in Virginia. I’d graduated from college and was working my first gig at a bank. Newly engaged to my now wife, I thought a bit of reading would keep me out of trouble. While thumbing through a bookstore, I happened upon The Complete Sherlock Holmes. I had never read or been interested in reading any of the Holmes canon. Finding nothing else and attracted to the bargain bin low price, I figured I’d give it a try. The game was afoot!
I read the tome cover to cover(1,122 pages), becoming a Holmes nerd. With any storytelling, I’m drawn to character, place, atmosphere, and weirdness. Doyle checks all the boxes. Victorian London, gothic alleyways filled with pea soup fog, the weird crimes and friendship between Holmes and Watson, I was hooked. Even the rooms at 221 B. Baker Street are a little weird, even by twenty first century standards. I would even love to be a member of the Diogenes Club! My fav story has to be The Musgrave Ritual. A riddle, ancient manor, British Royal History, and a grisly murder. Give me an icy winter night, a fire, dim lighting, and a delicious beverage, and I’m fat and happy! What other Sherlock Holmes fans are lurking in the London shadows?
Why write a book? For me, it all started with my son. I say started, because when we read the Harry Potter books to him, his reaction was well, magical. He was a little guy of five years old. As we read, he fell deeper and deeper into J.K. Rowling’s spell. So did I. Our mutual love of this world made me return to an earlier dream.
I came to books and writing late. I’d loved writing stories with a friend while I was in middle school, but as it happens, my interests turned to other things.
In junior high school, my friend, Mike Paris, recommended I read T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. I enjoyed it, but no fireworks went off.
I became a serious reader in college. My English classes fascinated me, and during a study abroad program at Oxford University, the seeds for classic fantasy stories were planted.
Oxford is the birthplace of the modern fantasy story. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien penned their monumental adventures there. The atmosphere reminded me of The Once and Future King, and interested in finding an earlier source for the book, I discovered Le Morte d’Arthur.
I bought a copy at Blackwell’s, and the fifteenth-century text brought the Arthur legend into focus. Now, I had my bricks and mortar. I knew one day I’d attempt to write a novel.
The writing cliché is to write what you know. Well, I didn’t know much. I thought, what if I write what I love? My son’s love of the Harry Potter adventures inspired me. If I could write a story that gave someone joy, gave them a break from the stress we all face, that would be a wonderful gift.
If anything, my kids would have something to read to their children.
How to begin? Do I write an outline? Yuck, I hated writing outlines in school. I needed a guide, a plan. I decided to have fun with this project. I’ve loved to draw and paint since I was a kid. A painting would be my outline.
A few months later, the artwork was complete. I included elements I’ve loved from history and literature:
-Pirates and treasure
-Merlin from the King Arthur legend ( a much more interesting character than Arthur)
-Puzzles, ciphers and cryptic symbols
I now had my skeleton, and all I needed to do was flesh it out. I took pen in hand and wrote a horrible first sentence.
Owen R. Minter was inspired to write The Shrouded Sword, a fantasy story filled with ancient magic and time travel, after creating a drawing based on Arthurian legend. The Shrouded Sword is the first book in the Gramarye Cycle series. When he’s not writing, Owen makes paintings with a leaf blower, reads, and enjoys coaching Special Olympics Athletics.
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