|Dynotus art, from 26 years ago, done on my Amiga computer|
We all remember our first loves. No matter what we experience later in life, we keep a place in our hearts for what came along when we were most impressionable, when the world was still wondrous and open to infinite possibilities. So much of how we feel about our favorite things stems from our earliest memories. Our love for Star Wars, or He-Man or Zelda, has less to do with quality, and more to do with who we were. Because our first loves hold such meanings for us, we often cling to them, and are less willing to share them with others. But the nature of writing is exposing what we love most, so that the world might poke at it, or praise or ridicule it, or just simply ignore it. This is why, even among nudists, I am one of the few to use my real name, because the stories born from my mind are a thousand times more personal. My body is just a cover for what is inside, and what is inside is the Red Panther and Dynotus and Xandr and Princess Radia. Naturally, I have been hesitant to let the children of my imagination loose on the Internet, where they will likely face against the Lich of Apathy. It would be far easier to keep writing about nudism. Every post I write involving nudity gets read by thousands, and is liked and shared on Facebook and Twitter and Google +. My article about Aliaa Magda Elmahdi has been read by over 16,000 people. But it gets me nowhere closer to my true love, which is fiction. I have always believed that story speaks to a deeper truth, that we cannot hope to put into words, other than through story. It is our oldest method for sharing our ideas and beliefs and feelings, and it remains the most potent and vital. What is religion, after all, but a form of story? But in this age of instant information, where everything is reduced to a sound bite or a meme, where everything and everyone competes for seconds, we have lost something precious. On social media, we have forgotten the transcendent quality of story, what we have known since time immemorial, when our prehistoric ancestors sat about a fire listening to a bard or a shaman. This is why, popularity be damned, I continue to struggle against the Lich of Apathy, and the tower of indifference built upon the white noise of too many voices, because I long to share the passion swelling in my heart. When I was eighteen, my heart was aflame, and after many failed attempts at writing my first novel, I started work on The Nomad.
To be fair, I was young and inexperienced at the time, fresh out of high school and just entering college. I had to struggle with basic form, with how to establish a scene and with how much description to give. But I was driven by unbridled imagination, and idealism, utterly convinced of my future as a novelist. Despite the techniques I have acquired over the decades, I long to find that old Nick Alimonos again, to have that fervor I once possessed. Being naive is a far better thing than being jaded. Ultimately, I abandoned The Nomad upon its completion, knowing I had more to learn. But looking back on it now, I wonder whether, if I had stuck with it, my entire life might be different. Unlike my second venture, The Dark Age of Enya, The Nomad is a simple story, and for an agent, a much easier sell.
The Nomad is a love story, largely inspired by The Odyssey. Like Odysseus, Dynotus searches twenty years for the woman he loves, for his wife, Sali, which has been kidnapped. And like The Odyssey, The Nomad is an adventure story, with fantastic locales and mythical monsters. But instead of the Mediterranean, he becomes lost in the sands of the Sahara.
But who is Dynotus? In many ways, he is a precursor to Xandr, a hero inspired by my love of mythology. Four years before starting the novel, I typed a short story called The War of the Gods. In an alternate universe, which I call AERTH, every pantheon known to mankind, from every nation and time period, existed simultaneously. Here, gods battled for supremacy, and the last to stand were my favorites: Zeus and Thor. But the two thunder gods ended up destroying themselves, leaving Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, to be inherited by the son of Zeus and the Japanese Shinto goddess, Amaterasu Omikami. Hence, Zor was born. Taking after his father, Zor had his way with a mortal woman from Sparta, whose offspring was unusually strong, like Heracles. And so she named him “strong” in Greek, which translates to Dynotus.
Now if all this sounds like a bad comic book, and nothing like what I aspired to in my first paragraph, keep in mind that I was fourteen. My goal, with Dynotus, was to create a myth for all people. And throughout my high school years, Dynotus spent a lot of time traveling the globe and killing monsters, and he usually did it naked. But by the time I turned eighteen, I lost interest in fighting for the sake of fighting. Having a relatable character, with real human emotions, mattered more to me. A hero who could fall in love, and know loss, and struggle to overcome that loss, became so much more interesting. This was the basis for my first true novel.
Next Week: THE NOMAD: A LOVE STORY: CHAPTER 1