This cover art was created by P. Smith, my younger brother who is a wonderful artist.
I am pleased to announce that I have finished (the first draft!) of my novel, Beneath a Swift Sunrise.
It is the first in a trilogy of novels, which I am calling Star Sharks.
Here is a short 150 character description of the novel I have written: In the 31st century, the galaxy is ravaged by a planet killing monster. How can the crew of the Star Shark find hope and courage amidst grief, loss, and chaos, while searching for a magical sword of the Norse gods to destroy the mysterious, evil alien starship before it devours Earth and all its allies?
I can hardly believe I have written a book! I came up with the idea for Star Sharks when I was 13 years old. At that time, I had just discovered Windows Movie Maker, and would make short films with some of my friends (we're talking the pre-YouTube days, folks!) for fun and our own amusement. Star Sharks is my own idea for a space opera that is highly influenced by Star Wars and Star Trek, but also other fantasy genres such as Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia. In a snap you could describe it as King Arthur/Lord of the Rings in Space. Despite being derivative of these classics, it is my own, original work and idea. It is also somewhat of a roman a clef. It revolves around Captain Basil Phoenix, his two brothers Gregory and John, and their adventures to save the galaxy aboard their titular ship, the Star Shark. Star Sharks was going to be a one-off, amateur feature film that my friends and I were going to make. ...But we never did! We made other, short projects, as well as a 22 min, short Star Wars fan film, but never Star Sharks.
I never divulged the details of Star Sharks to many of my friends, maybe just two or three of them. The idea always stayed with me. As I grew, aged, and developed, so too did the characters and story. I had always wanted to become a writer and write my own, real, novel. But writing is hard. I had always struggled with writer's block. Not in the sense that it is difficult for me to come up with ideas or a story that makes sense and one that I know where it is going, but the actual physical act of writing, getting it out there. Typing. I tend to fatigue quite quickly when writing, plus I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to wording and phrasing, and I want my writing to be perfect before I move on from a phrase, a sentence, or a paragraph. It is a slow process for me that entangled me with difficulties when I was writing my senior thesis in undergrad (long story!)
Luckily in grad school I had very good writing mentors and an excellent cohort who helped me through and really streamlined the process for me. Now I work in a job where I write a lot all the time with due dates. Writing became far less of a daunting task at this stage of my life and I could do it without as much fatigue or fear. Yet I seldom write for pleasure in this occupation.
In March of 2017, my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In April, she had surgery at Duke University to have it removed. Since then she has struggled against brain cancer. Star Sharks was still with me, in my head. During this time I began to read much more. Much like my struggles with writing, I have always been a slow reader who can read and comprehend on a high level, but always slowly, deliberately, and quick fatigue. Since audio books have proliferated into public life, I have "read" and comprehended much more. Once more I read Lord of the Rings, quite possibly my favorite, and the most influential and inspirational work of fiction I have read. When my mother was diagnosed, I listened to Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Lev Grossman's entire The Magicians series. I read and listened along to Chuck Wendig's Star Wars: Aftermath series. I found comfort and pleasure in books once again and found myself listening and reading more in my spare time over crap television, YouTube videos (and I love my YouTubers and their channels!) and video games.
Once again I was inspired to write. I was motivated by the sheer willingness and creative drive I have always had. I was motivated by my pain and struggles of my mother and immediate family. I was motivated by the prospect of a limited number of years on this Earth, and a plethora of ideas for writings. I decided to look back at my old notes and took up and wrote. I was inspired, too, by Neil Gaiman's introduction to American Gods wherein he describes forcing himself to sit down and write each day, and that if he could write 2,000 words per day he was happy. I tried this method, and was astounded when it worked. When my word count told me at least 2,000 words per day, I was happy. Many days I pleasantly surprised myself and wrote over 7,000 words. I wrote in a notebook sitting in a camping chair on the shores of the Outer Banks on a family vacation that was extra special because my mom went with us mid-chemo and radiation treatments. I later transcribed these ink-written pages, typing them into my document on my computer at night. I wrote in the afternoons and into the late evenings while I taught summer school in the waning days of June 2017. I finally finished the Sunday morning after my 27th birthday, typing the final words of the epilogue via a wireless keyboard as I sat up in bed using the television in my room as a monitor.
The story has grown and evolved over the years. The planet-killing beast, the Nekron, is a metaphor for brain cancer. The characters and stories have become deeper, more involved, affected by a deep family tragedy involving brain cancer, and the destruction wrought by the Nekron. It is still a space opera. It is now also a story about the redemption of the Norse gods and the conflicts of Ragnarok. It has come a long way and is much different than it was when I first came up with it all those years ago. It is still my story. Still my song. I intend to publish it, and to write and publish the rest of the trilogy as well, no matter how long it takes me. I have outlines for the rest of the series. I am currently writing other novels and literature, too, some more light-hearted and happy-go-lucky.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves Sci-Fi, Fantasy, fiction in general, and myths and legends of various cultures and varieties. I would also recommend it to anyone who has experienced personal calamity in their lives. Read it, enjoy it, and know that there is always hope. Through our struggles, hard work, and perseverance, and just enough divine help, we can accomplish amazing things. A better, bright, and wonderful future for everyone, such that we cannot even imagine is ahead of us.
Thank you and I will update when and how/ what platform this book will be available on should it publish in the foreseeable future!
Friends of T.D. Smith