"Why did you become a writer?"
I'm sure there's plenty of blame to go around on that one, from teachers to other authors, but if I really try to pin it down to my earliest influences, I'd say it's most likely my Dad's fault.
Some of my earliest memories are him telling me cautionary "dangerous joke stories", and the first book I clearly remember being read to me was "Beware The Fish" up in my bunk bed. Also, my Dad was my first co-author in what was eventually titled "Stormshadow and Dufus", a buddy cop type tale of a rather serious (and plagiarized) ninja and his sweaty, donut-eating sidekick.
But, to be an author, I believe one must first have a passion for storytelling, and I think ultimately this is why the blame lies primarily upon my father's shoulders, as he has a knack for spinning a good yarn, and brainstorming with him is always a very passionate and engaging affair.
So, if it's my Father's fault that I learned to love telling stories, it's my Mother's fault that any of them were ever finished. She was the one who would read and enjoy just about anything I made, and she was the one who'd spellcheck the works while cheering me on. To this day, after all the editors and beta readers have had their say, she is still the final line of defense for all of my books, and she always makes them better.
The answer to why I became a professional author however, rather than a part-time writer or a passionate storyteller, is Nick, my behind-the-scenes editor and brainstorming partner. I forget which one is yin and which one is yang, but he completes me.
Actually, it's interesting - the day I decided to start writing and had just written up a (horrific) outline for The Shard Chronicles (a rather cheesy tale involving a protagonist by the name of Ezra), he messaged me over Steam with the simple question: "Do you want to write a book? I hear you can make some money doing that."
I laughed and told him to come over so I could pitch him my idea.
I wanted to save the world. I wanted to cram self-development seminars into action books and have the characters realize their love of life as a result of the lessons learned. Ezra would eventually be ported to the big screen, either as a television series or into the movies.
To his credit, he didn't laugh me off the couch, and together we began writing the series, gradually shifting Ezra to Steve, and, as I was exclusively a discovery writer at the time, adjusting and running with the ever-expanding plot as the characters kept doing things that surprised me. (Insert Nick running his hands over his face in frustration "you are the writer! How are they surprising you!?")
What started out as a 50,000 word book with a fairly predictable climax gradually turned into a fifteen part series with an actual original story, with each book well over 100,000 words.
To say that we were creating our own sub-niche would be accurate. Eventually, we started calling it "Mindsettertainment" with the tagline of "mindset, with car crashes"
Around this time I also discovered that Tom Bilyeu, a self-development coach I had been listening to for some time had an almost identical goal to mine. He deemed it "pulling people out of the matrix at scale by giving them a growth mindset through media".
The confirmation that someone of his caliber thought it was possible was the missing piece in my dedication, and after hearing that, I really buckled down and began writing like a madman, as well as beginning to learn the business side of writing from the "sell more books show" podcast, kindlepreneur, and several master classes, udemy courses, skillshares and general internet searches. I also began refining my craft, listening to courses and talks from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Stephen King and others.
The rest, as they say, is... well, not history - but not present, either. The series isn't finished yet, and the best has yet to come :)
Faye, my grade 12 English tutor As fate would have it, I managed to make it to grade twelve before hearing the word "verb" outside of a French class. In retrospect, that's probably why I struggled so much with the concept of conjugating le verbs... I got a D in my first semester, a C+ in the second semester, and 98% on the final provincial exams. Talk about dragging someone up out of the gutter. Thanks Faye!
Kevin, my strange, fedora-wearing, death-metal-listening, nocturnal friend I met in computer programming school, who thought I was cool because I wore a leather jacket and had the guts to turn off a skipping CD in an auditorium. I'll admit, it was strange to suddenly be the badass of any sort of group, but it was an identity I enjoyed and ultimately took with me as life went on. Kevin was the co-author of an improvisational novel he and I created called "Seductively Vibrating Bowels" - the rules of which were that we would choose words at random from the dictionary (a paper version of dictionary.com) and then have to include within our story before "tagging in" the other author to continue the story. "Bellweather" was the breakout chapter, where, in many ways, Ono the author was born.
"Tenticles" Tanya You whippersnappers may not realize it, but spellcheck wasn't a thing when I was young. Oh sure, there were a few ways to do it, but you had to pay for most of the software out there that could do it, and even then, it didn't do it very well. Tentacles was a particularly difficult, and surprisingly frequent word that Tanya painstakingly corrected for me time and again. To this day, I hear her say "tent-A-culls" when I type it out. To my knowledge, Tanya has purchased and read everything I've ever attempted, good or bad, and has supported me in every journey I've taken. She is a true friend, a selfless person, an incredibly talented artist, and a damn good cleaner of homes. The fact that she tried to stab me once in my kitchen because I requested she put more water in the blender is a small price to pay for her friendship.
Mike I owe mike a tremendous amount, not just for his input on book one of The Shard Chronicles (to this day when I am doing the third draft of a book I call it the "Mike filter"), but for teaching me a great deal as my martial arts instructor as well. Though I was often the only person to show up for class, he never turned me away, was always enthusiastic to teach me, and his "real-world perspective" colored the lessons in realism and pragmatism. Mike is a beautiful soul, and the world is better because of it.
Renee Many wives wouldn't have the guts to tell their husband that the book they'd been writing for the past eight months was "borderline incomprehensible". But without that feedback, I might never have thought to edit the damn thing in the first place. Though she has yet to read past chapter one (possibly as a result of the taste the first draft left in her mouth) she is nonetheless an integral part of the series' construction. From research to brainstorming, I always know I can count on Renee to come up with an original, and often horrific idea when I need one.
Simon As with Mike, Simon's influence on the book was so great, that I actually went back and applied his wisdom to book 1, altering it extensively. Simon taught me how to read between the lines, then how to read between those lines a second time. While I have no trouble taking the credit for our awesome book series, in fairness, Simon's influence was what turned it from a pretty good book, into a great one. Simon is also responsible for my transition into something of an architect writer. While I still stand true to my discovery-writer-ethics that "the character decided to do something different" they are now, at least, acting within some semblance of a plot structure while they're doing it. Still, there are times where I have to call up Nick and apologize that the characters surprised me and now we have to make a new plot (or figure out how to get the characters back into the plot despite their decisions.) Characters can be stubborn...
A different Kevin For inviting me to play a roleplaying game in the art room. Without the introduction to that, I wouldn't have gotten obsessed about character creation, and I probably wouldn't know which questions to ask about a character or how to make anybody seem even remotely real.
Tony Tony changed my life in many ways, and it is to him that these books are ultimately dedicated. I just hope I've done him justice.
Steve Steve also changed my life in many ways. I doubt he'll ever read the series, but I think he'd get a kick out of it.
To anyone else who has been a character in some form or another in my books, thank you for being your unique, beautiful self. Thank you for the inspiration, the reference, and the wonderment. We're all such unique creatures, and to be able to paint with the essence of your souls even for a moment was a privilege.
Whoops! Getting poetic. Time to end this article.