November is the PLANNED date-nothing is really set in blood. The first draft is complete and I have sent it to a few beta readers and editors. It’s 29 thousand words and will probably be a little over 100 pages.
Exclusive art from my book “Forlorn.” Set to release this year. Art by: DimikDraws
Written by: Aaron B.
Usually, books about someone living their daily life is something I’d stay away from, as I’m more into action and fantasy. But, I love stories about humanoid animals and I basically bought the book after reading the plot.
The book tells the story of ‘M’ he works at a restaurant, does car maintenance on the side and is just trying to live his life in some Southern town, it is also about the many interactions he has and a love life that may never come. While the book may be about a creature of legend living in our modern world, is one of the most human books I’ve ever read. Full of realism, the daily struggle of a guy trying to fit in and love-it’s a book I’ll remember for a long time.
The author, Steven Sherrill does an amazing job describing the daily struggles of being a half-man, half-bull. The little things like how hard it is for him to bathe, or how hard it is to fit through narrow doorways. I expected a lot of that, but what I got was something much deeper. It also is a book of M’s inner thoughts. He can barely speak, maybe one word along with a lot of guttural sounds. But his conscious is often much kinder and open-minded than the humans who inhabit the town, the book’s overarching theme to me is acceptance. A minotaur isn’t accepted by everyone, he does have his circle of friends, but even they don’t help his inner loneliness. That is where the book shined.
As someone who has autism and special needs, that message of feeling ‘different’ and ‘less than’ rang so true to me, especially when I was in school where I felt I had to compare myself to everyone else. Even during my routines, I feel like an outcast, so reading about his life and how hard it is to fit in and to connect with people, really was what made my heart go out to him. He’s one of those characters I wanted to reach out and hug multiple times.
As the story went on, I didn’t know what would happen with M. He finds some girls attractive, he has some mental breakdowns and gains some enemies and some life insight, and the way everything is resolved was satisfying. A bit sad, but realistic and not sappy or over the top.
If you’re someone who likes a unique story with some mature themes and can handle reading something that read more like a spiritual journey rather than an action packed plot with tons of violence and typical character arcs, I highly recommend this. I’m going to order a hard copy so I can have it in my collection (I got the Kindle version.) I only get hardcover books of works that really speak to me (Watership Down, Call of The Wild, War Horse, Black Beauty to name a few I have.) Those are some of the books that I want to re-visit, and this should be in the collection.
I feel it’s a disservice to just have a digital copy, as it’s a book I’d like to lend to friends who might be curious. Plus, I might want to re-read it the next time I feel low self-esteem or stupid about my disabilities, may M can cheer me up? The way M was written, made me feel like doing away with technology and just living a simpler life. Which is a good thing in my eyes.
I will read the sequel at some point, but I want to marinate in this story a bit. Think about it before I’m ready for another journey like that. Maybe read something lighter to kinda give myself a rest, because this was a heavy read. I mean that in the best possible way, the book was 100 times better then I thought. I thought I was in for a fun little story with lots of humor, but I’d compare this book to something of a truly deep drama (maybe something like “Lean on Pete” or the movie “Boyhood”.) It’s a book that made me think of outcasts and a story that reflects my own worldview as far as how to treat others who don’t look like we do. I think everyone could learn something in that moral, especially in this day and age of hatred and prejudice towards anything and everything. Sometimes I need to read books like this, to remind myself thoughtful stories are out there-you just have to look.
The following is an unedited excerpt from a book I plan on self publishing.
He felt he was going downhill, further and further until the passageway barely gave off any outer light, but he would not lead a lantern to light the rest of the way as he saw a large hole straight ahead. Glowing with golden light, presumably lit by fire. The sound of the wind became less prominent as he went through the oddly placed gap.
The room is warm, below his feet is a ground of soft sand. Tyler slowly drew his sword, feeling the presence of something bigger than him in the room. He took a few more steps into the place. Seeing a lot of oddly placed items such as a large golden table, a few golden chalices. Keeping his footsteps as quiet as possible, he approached a few of these items. Dragons were known for hording treasure. It seemed he had found his. It all seemed surreal, his father had killed so many dragons and this one might be Tyler’s first. Perhaps he was more oblivious then his dad, for he had no idea the creature eyed him from a deep, dark corner of the room.
The dragon eyed Tyler’s back from where he stood. At nine feet tall, it wasn’t easy to hide, but in his own home he knew where all the secret passageways were. The fire barely illuminated his glowing yellow eyes. He kept his long tail and broad wings as silent as possible. Roasting him would be easy if that’s what needed to be done, truth be told though he was quite lonely. Thanks to dragon fighters around the kingdom, they were quickly revered, so he kept his distance from Nafton unlike the dragons that came before him.
Going on all fours, he decided to see what this knight was up to. Yes, to slay him was the obvious, but why not talk to someone? A rare opportunity had presented itself. Tyler let out a large gasp as he felt a very large, clawed hand reach around his throat. Feeling his heart sink to the pit of his stomach, he knew this was the end. He had failed in his task already. A deep, booming voice came from behind him, not a yell, far from it. More stern.
“Drop your sword.” His soul filling with fear but also agitation as he did want to slay him. He had no way of attacking his opponent now. He was tricked and now had nothing else to do but listen. A bit of sweat wet down his forehead as he let go of the one thing that may keep him from life or death.
“It is surreal to be here with such a creature of legend.”
The red scaled, tall monster gently sniffed Tyler, getting a sense of who he is. Hearing his heart rate, which was erratic. Fearlessly, he let go of Tyler’s throat and backed away.
“A legend? I thought you people thought of my kind as things that need to be destroyed.”
Tyler knew he could take this opportunity to maybe better his opponent. Picking his sword up and charged at the beast, perhaps the dragon was slightly outsmarted as the knight seemed to skittish at first, the sword didn’t hit the dragon’s chest, it wouldn’t have time. Standing on his two hind legs, he shoved the knight to the ground, lying on top of him. Pinning him and gripping his wrist which held the sword like a vice. Tyler grunted as he took his other hand, reached into his boot and pulled out a secret dagger. He slammed the metal end into the creature’s chest. It snapped upon impact into his hard shell of a chest. His father had not lied in his journals. Dragon’s had that outer shell for protection.
His underbelly a golden color, went well as upper body was a nice red color which shined due to the scales. He kept himself quite clean even though he hadn’t seen another individual for a few years.
“You are persistent. However, I sense you’re an amateur.” Trying to keep a stern, heroic face Tyler retorted. “Do not judge me, beast.” The dragon growled low and nearly went nose-to-nose with him.
“You wouldn’t call a human just ‘human’. Orpheus is what you’ll call me. I might as well die with one person knowing who I am.” Orpheus couldn’t have had that much of a death wish. Maybe he was egging Tyler on? Maybe he wanted to kill a knight? Is that what most dragons did? Was he following what so many of his kind had done?
He got up from on top of the knight, standing on back legs. Towering over him and eyeing his body. He looked quite unique. How human he looked, but all his features reptilian and dragon-like. Their eyes met, standing up Tyler thought he would have an opportunity to fight this beast. Something stopped him. The dragon stepped closer, maybe giving Tyler a shot? “Will you strike me like others have for so long?” Getting to his feet, the young knight picked his sword up. He could attack him, but his heart told him not to. He was here, all the preparation, the reading, the practicing. All led to this. Nothing but words exchanged. Tyler put his sword in its sheath.
“Orpheus, I maybe a knight who is an adequate fighter. Maybe I’m noble, though I doubt it. Unless you strike first, I won’t kill you or attempt to kill you.” The beast cocked his head, his eyes narrow slowly as he crossed his arms. His broad shoulders relaxed.
Truth be told, it wasn’t how intimidating he was. Tyler knew Orpheus wouldn’t be small. Something else was there, something Tyler didn’t think he’d see. A soul. Behind his yellow glowing eyes and buff exterior, a voice full of emotion. If he could emote, that meant he could feel. Could he kill someone who was so intelligent and didn’t want to hurt him back? Sighing, Tyler sat on a near by rock, Orpheus sat a few feet across from him, crossing his legs.
“I’ll give you this. You’re different from every other knight who has come through here.”
Tyler took a sip from his water jug, his deep, authoritative voice bounces in his brain. Something about the dragon is so appealing and so mysterious. Beautiful even.
Never taking his eye off Orpheus, he looked straight into the beasts’ eyes. “I’m not risking my life to show a bunch of townspeople that I can slay an individual who didn’t strike first. That would make me a coward. If I am a true knight, I’m sworn to valor and virtue and upholding the weak. That is what my heart says as well.” Orpheus looked to the ground. “So, this is goodbye?” Tyler stood up, collecting his sword and checking his mild wounds from the short scuffle. “I assumed you wouldn’t want to see me traversing here again.” Standing up, Orpheus’ tone went low. “I was hoping you would. Come back.” Tyler’s face turned red for an instant. “I can. Yes.”
The dragon smiled slightly. “You live within Forlorn, correct?” Tyler nods. “If so, you should get going before nightfall.”
PLOT: In a world, full of fantasy and wonder, where animals and humans are separated-one dolphin named Daiquiri goes on a quest to kill a mighty and terrifying dragon who keeps an iron grip over the land of Animalia.
The inception of this fantasy short film was done after I watched the classic film from the 80’s entitled “The Dark Crystal”. A film starring puppets actually seemed like something I could do, on a much smaller scale of course. I wanted to do a fantasy simply because I rarely get to do grand stories, so I thought with puppets and with the holidays coming up and traveling, I knew it would be a good chance to try something a bit more ambitious.
Filming at the very cool furry con in Springfield was a blast, everyone seemed to be interested in what I was doing and I was glad to answer questions. I actually shot that footage before I had a SCRIPT written out, but I spent the next few days tweaking a plot and I knew what kind of story I wanted to tell. I recorded all the audio I needed before filming a whole lot, I did film little things here and there-but in the editing it was much easier to have all the puzzle pieces and just put everything together.
Filming in Lake George was also a blast, but it proved to be very tiring. Having to pack for myself AND for the movie AND make sure I remembered batteries and the puppets and had a place to store everything was a bit of a hard deal, but once I got there things fell into place-for the most part. The weather was quite bad, an overcast looks pretty on camera, but the rain was off and on and that made the shooting schedule tight since we were only there for two days, but it rained 90% of the time. With my mom’s help, I was able to get everything in though.
For the final scene at the party, that was just pure craziness. My aunt holds a 4th of July party, and I LOVE going and thought it would be fun to film there, it was a fun time but carrying around a camera and two puppets for half the time made walking about hard, plus I wanted to make sure to talk to my aunts and cousins who I sometimes don’t get to see a lot, but everyone loved being on camera and I think I juggled everything well. I am proud of this short, for its locations and story. The waiting to get the locations was VERY tough on my ADHD, but it was so worth it.
Along with this new film, came AMAZING movie poster art by the talented Carrie Lindstrom! She was awesome to work with, I met with her and she knew exactly what I was looking for, her work added a whole new dimension to the project for sure. 🙂
No doubt this movie has been tedious to edit and film. However, I hope this preview gives you a good sense on what I’ve been up to. How much of it is done? About 90% I’m going to Lake George, NY to film some scenes, I also hope to film at a July 4th party I’m going too. While filming, I had a long time to wait, I started filming June 4 officially, and have been filming throughout the weeks leading up to the big scenes (big because I actually have to travel to get the shots.)
Before we get to the main event, I am working on a short story which centers around the character, Stetson-the deer in my feature film script. I want to give people a good look into who he is, plus it’s a fun side project. “Buck” (the movie script) is being worked on periodically, it’s taking me a while to also get accustomed to the formatting style of a script.
As far as the main event goes, “Of Anthros and Humans” is NOT dead. I wrote two episodes a few months ago, and I will tell you that the third one will be out I hope soon (I HATE to make promises, because if I’m wrong-I feel like I’ve let you guys down.) It’s best to use the George .R.R. Martin line-it’ll be out when it’s out!
What I AM doing though is writing out a huge outline for the book, see when I wrote episodes 1 and 2, I only had a tiny bit of outline. So, before I write any more-I’m literally writing a bulletined list of all the events (plus updating the character sheet as the story grows.) Why? Well, I want to make sure all the events flow properly and connect. Plus, when I write the episodes, I can drop hints to future events, thereby making the story hopefully more interesting. I can drop hints to relationships and struggles the characters might have to face.
I LOVE these characters (I hope you do too!), and I want to give them the best possible story lines and the best possible endings, I don’t want to miss any opportunities. The world of Animalia isn’t as big as Middle Earth or Westeros, it is a fantasy story on a MUCH smaller scale. It’s how I envision it. It’s not meant to be a tome like most fantasy books, it’s really meant as a nod to one of my favorite genres, a fun and quick read.
What will be cool though is if I write other middle ages / fantasy stories, I can set them all in Animalia and not have to come up with a new world every time I want to write in that genre, so that will be super nice. Who knows? If I write enough, maybe I’ll print a volume of short stories to along with the main novel?
Getting ahead of myself, but anyway, I am happy with how “Of Anthros and Humans” is turning out. I think it’ll be a bit of “Game of Thrones” and a bit of “Dragonheart”, my two favorite fantasy stories combined, I mean-the dragon Vince is heavily inspired by Draco and the evil King Crixus is based around the evil kings, like Joffery Baratheon.
The snowy landscape of Winterfell really helped me write “The Hollow”, a town beyond Animalia and set in a snowy tundra and run by a large wolf pack (you wolf fans will love that section I think!) So yeah, that’s sort of where I’m getting my inspiration from-I’m sure “Lord of The Rings” is in there somewhere, but it’s not one of my biggest inspirations, though it DID get me into fantasy. So yeah, I am really pumped about this book and what you guys will think! I guess I should stop using the internet and get my butt moving!