Kevin James Breaux, Author, Level One
You know how they say one event can change your life forever. Looking back at my childhood I think I can pinpoint a single moment that created a wide spread butterfly effect that rippled throughout my years.
On my seventh birthday, back in 1981, my friend Matt, who was a few years older than me, gave me my first Dungeons and Dragons book. It was the OFFICIAL ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS MONSTER MANUAL by Gary Gygax and it had the most amazing painting of a bunch of pegasi fighting a big red dragon on the cover. The book was hard bound and large, unlike all my other little children’s books. Holding it here in my hands now, I recall those very happy days.
Of all the gifts I got from my friends and family that birthday the Monster Manual is the only one I remember, and still own to this day. Yes, I’m sure I got a football, some Star Wars action figures, maybe even some Batman Underoos, but those items did not make a lasting impression on me. (Underoos were boys underwear that looked like a superhero costume and were quite the trendy fashion statement of their day).
I vividly remember feeling that Matt had given me a very special gift. At the same time I was curious and excited; what was this book and what secrets did it hold inside?
I admit at seven years old I probably did not comprehend half of what I was reading, but the pen and ink pictures hypnotized me. Massive snarling dragons, swirling wind elementals, giants as big as trees, squid-headed mind flayers and even shambling zombies; these 112 pages kept my attention for hundreds of hours. I wanted to draw everything I saw, and tried my best to copy my favorite pages.
My parents must have wondered if this book was secretly enchanted with kid-tranquilizing magic due to the simple fact that, short of cartoons, nothing quite held my attention so solidly. Thinking back all those years I cannot remember if I begged my mother to take me to the hobby store in the Village Mall that week to buy more books like this one, or if she raced me over there just to find more of these “hardbound baby sitters”. Either way, it worked out nicely and I added MONSTER MANUAL 2, FIEND FOLIO and DEITIES AND DEMI-GODS to my collection.
Seeing my excitement over his gift, Matt wanted to teach me how to play the game behind the “cool drawings”. He and his friends were just learning it too and they needed one more player. I’ll never forget the feeling of amazement that washed over me when I saw all the little metal knights and wizards used to play D&D. Unlike the plastic army men I had buckets of, each of these metal soldiers and monsters seemed to have a story about them, and the way Matt explained it those tales were yet to be told. Yeah, I was instantly hooked, time to play.
You know how kids play; they kinda make things up as they go along. Did I know all the D&D rules back then? NO WAY! I probably knew 5% of them, if even that. Basically I understood how to make and equip my character and when to roll my dice, other than that I just followed the leader. I had a good imagination and was easily amused, the best I can explain it is that the game of D&D was all just one big puppet show, and from time to time I was allowed to dance my very own puppet.
It’s hard not to credit D&D for the onslaught of fantasy related things my parents put in front of me from that day forward. Toys like the LEGO Castle and movies such as Excalibur and Hawk the Slayer; it all shaped me as a future writer in the genre. After years of enjoying other people’s creations I realized I could make my own. It wasn’t until recent years that I realized it was not the act of playing games like D&D, Ultima: Exodus, Final Fantasy or even World of Warcraft (I miss you WoW) that I truly enjoyed, it was actually the process of character creation that excited me.
SOUL BORN is my debut novel: a character driven fantasy; 110,000 words born from the tips of my fingers and the core of my heart. SOUL BORN can be read as a standalone novel, or the beginning of a proposed three book series.
All Opal wanted was to be respected as a wielder of magic, but her teachers passed her over time and time again. When a mysterious warlord embarks on a conquest to destroy the lands of Illyia Opal seizes an opportunity to step out from the shadows of her instructors and take her rightful spot among them. Tala, an alluring young elf, was banished from her tribe, hunted and nearly killed by the beasts that dwell in the deep forests, but more than anything else she is a survivor. Joining forces with an ancient elemental power Tala finds herself in the center of an unrelenting human war. She never wanted any of this.
Flesh like leather and bone as strong as steel Karn, a veteran from the first kingdom to fall, is fueled by vengeance. While pushing ever headlong into battle Karn begins to recall memories of another life; ghosts that haunt his dreams.
Through death of soul, their world is born.
Kevin James Breaux is an award-winning author and artist. He is a member of the HWA and EAA. Along with having many short stories published Kevin's first novel, SOUL BORN, an epic fantasy, will be released 11/2010. Soul Born is book one in a three book series, that runs over 110,000 words.
Thanks so much Kevin for visiting Darlyn & Books!