People were lined up at Vested Interest in Callander Sunday getting grade 12 student Alastair McPherson to sign their copy of his first novel, “From Out Of The Shadows."
The 17-year-old author from North Bay recalls what it was like the first time he got to hold his book.
“It was actually a hard thing to process. This was something I’ve been working on for so long, so when I actually had copies in my hands, it was mind-blowing. I’m still trying to process it, and how amazing it is. It was extraordinary. Very surreal,” laughed McPherson.
The fantasy novel is the first in what eventually will be a four-book series.
“In this book, it follows the adventures of a couple of pairs of characters. In the north there is a human and an elf who has to learn to work together and set aside their differences in order to survive a dark elf assassination,” explained McPherson.
“In the south, a gnome and a dwarf are taken prisoner by the dark elves and must fight desperately to escape.”
McPherson took some of his inspiration from his love of fantasy books and Dungeons and Dragons.
“I’ve got a lot of exposure to high fantasy. I guess over the years I’ve just been piecing together things that I like and the stories I want to hear. It is just been a lot of thinking and staring at walls,” laughed McPherson.
“Over time it is a combination of everything I have been exposed to and everything I’ve wanted to see.”
It has taken years of hard work for the student to get his book written and published.
“I think it paid off,” said McPherson.
“From the moment I opened the first Word document to the moment it was published was a little over two years. The very first draft was about eight and a half months and from there it was just editing and publication time.”
One of his biggest inspirations is J.R.R. Tolkein, author of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.
“I absolutely adore his work and it has really pushed me to try to write fantasy. But a lot of other authors have had a hand too. R.A. Salvatore did a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons space books that were a huge inspiration as well,” McPherson said.
Along the way, he has received plenty of encouragement from teachers, family members, and friends.
“As far back as grade five, I can remember being told by my teachers that they could see me writing a book someday, which was actually really amazing to hear because back then I was writing for fun and trying to get better at it. So, I’ve had a lot of encouragement from a lot of teachers for a long time which has been absolutely mind-blowing and incredible” the author grinned.
Brook Hann, a friend since grade 9 is not the least bit surprised that her friend is now a published author.
“He was always one of the smartest kids in the class. It was very apparent that he was very good at English and creative writing. He’s always had a creative mind,” Hann said.
“I’m very proud of him and very excited for him.”
While he doesn’t have a notepad and pen at the ready on the nightstand in case he awakens in the night with a new plot twist, he does have them at the ready during the day.
“I don’t know if I necessarily wake up in the middle of the night wanting to write things down, but there are definitely nights where I’ve stayed awake thinking about things as they come to mind,” he grinned.
“But I definitely get random sparks of inspiration like on the bus to or from school, in the middle of a lunch break, just sitting on the couch. That is when I tend to write things down.”
Any similarities between the main character and the author is purely unintentional.
“The main character Silamnus, an elf wizard, I suppose emulates me in a few ways. I didn’t intentionally set out to do that, it just sort of happened.”
The end result is something the young author is extremely proud of having accomplished.
“I’m blown away by the cover. The cover is absolutely amazing. The artist’s work is absolutely phenomenal. As for the actual writing of the book, I think I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out,” McPherson reflected.
“I got a lot of great feedback. A lot of hard work went into it and I think it paid off.”
Living in the midst of a pandemic has given McPherson the opportunity to mull over the second book in his series.
“It was helpful in trying to write the drafts of book two. There was still school online, but I was less tied up by school so I had more free time to do more writing which is really nice. Having a break from everything helped me step back and think more and plan things out a little more.”
People can look forward to book two next year.
“I plan to start publication for book two at the end of October, which is about when I started the publication for book one. So, with any luck, it will probably be out around the same time book one was, so sometime around early April if everything goes according to plan.”The book is available at Vested Interest, Allison the Bookman, Bay Used Books in Sudbury, and online through Amazon.