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So as I prepare to write SPIRA, my first fantasy novel, I’ve gone back to read some of the first fantasy books I ever read. It’s such a great thing to go back and revisit these and experience them again as a writer. Sure, I’ve picked up an error or two that I probably missed back then when I was a child, but what is important is not how great these books are, but how much influence they had on me.

Everything I write, all that I learned about storytelling and character building stems from one particular series, The Dragonlance Chronicles. When I was first learning to read, I found a copy of The Legend of Huma in the local library. It was a dense read for a young child but the story took place in a totally different world, completely unlike our own. Huma, the reluctant hero, partnered with a renegade Minotaur to stop the evil dragons that threatened the land. All the traditional elements of fantasy were in this book; dragons, elves, dwarves, etc. I had no idea what the Lord of the Rings was and to this day I still can’t read those books. LOTR is too dense, too distracted, too full of itself. Dragonlance was a whole world in one book and it was my second visit to that world that set me on the path to being a writer.

Years after reading the Legend of Huma, I’d read the entire series of books about Narnia and a few other popular children’s fantasy books. I had learned about Dungeons and Dragons knew a lot of the lore of that universe. My young mind was eager for more stories and that was when I discovered the greatest fantasy book series of all time; Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

In that original trilogy are all the seeds I’d borrow for myself. You had a rugged half-elf leading a band of diverse warriors on a quest so big that even they did not understand their destiny. You had Kender, the cute, thieving cousins of Hobbits. There was the brave warrior with a heart as big as his muscles. There was a cleric and her Native American (called Plainsmen) husband, destined to bring back the old gods. There was the stubborn knight, with his rigid code of honor. Then there was Raistlin, perhaps the coolest wizard ever created. I mean what kind of scrawny kid would I be if I didn’t look up to the skinny, sickly, wizard who grows up to challenge the Queen of Darkness herself?? Here was a guy that even his friends didn’t like much, but they respected and feared him. Even though he was arrogant and selfish, he had a tenderness to him that showed he did care for others, much like his twin brother, the giant Caramon.

The world of Krynn was so much more than just a medieval setting with magic. It was a rich and vibrant world with three moons and Gods who often walked among the people.

I picked up the books again because I wanted to immerse myself in the genre, but instead I found my love for books all over again. Reading books that really influenced you is like meeting old friends again.

I highly recommend the Chronicles series, as well as the Twins series. If you’ve never read anything with Raistlin, I highly suggest you fix that immediately.