Running the Bases with James Kampel
Thank you to James Kampel for joining us today to Run the Bases with Andrew Q Gordon. You will want to check out his book The Dreamer when you are done with interview. Links are at the bottom.
Who or what inspired The Dreamer?
Growing up, I read a bunch of Dragon Lance and Forgotten Realms novels. The works by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Richard Knaak, R.A. Salvatore, Ed Greenwood, and all the others transported me to other worlds with fantastic adventures. I also enjoyed the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention how much I enjoyed the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
I’ve always had an interest in the philosophical and theological ideas surrounding death. As such, I have found that many of my ideas explore these theories. So, when I was imagining the protagonist of The Dreamer, I settled on the desire to explore the story of a hero that cannot die.
We’ve had many stories throughout history where the antagonist is seemingly immortal. The heroes must battle against terrible odds to defeat the immortal evil. I wanted to explore what would happen if the story was flipped and the hero was immortal instead of the evil.
In order to keep readers interested, I made very certain to limit just what the immortality was. In the case of The Dreamer, Oryn’s immortality is purely limited to his inability to die. He has no super strength or extra special powers. He is basically limited by his human physiology. He must sleep (eventually), he can’t kick over buildings, and he can only rely on his years of experience and natural intelligence to outthink his opponents. In the worst cases, Oryn may only win through pure attrition.
As the only immortal in the world, it was natural to pair Oryn up with normal humans. This adds a level of challenge to the protagonist. He wants, above all things, for his companions to survive. I think it also provides a good anchor for the reader.
Lastly, I wanted this immortal hero to exist in a world with extreme danger. If he takes each human death personally, then there must be an adequate threat that places humanity in peril. Thus, the kai were born. They are like a giant parasite and they loathe humanity with a supernatural hatred. War is humanity’s past, present and future. And Oryn wants to stop it. The hero of this tale does not have an easy journey.
Describe your planning process for this series.
I had always envisioned this series as a trilogy. As the story took shape in my mind, I knew how each book in the trilogy would begin and end. It was what happened in the middle that unearthed many gems.
The Dreamer was incredibly difficult for me to complete. I felt I had a wonderful character with great depth in Oryn. Yet with where the story took place in his life, I struggled with how to get him to the point he reached at the end of The Dreamer. In the end, I think I really struck the key balance between Oryn’s past and present in The Dreamer. Reader’s comments have suggested that I nailed it.
I wrote the trilogy in order and I completed the first draft plus edits in each book before moving on. I would definitely say I took an organic route overall. By not having all the key details defined through the three books, I had to make sure any key ideas and changes I made in the first book were carried correctly into the second and third.
To give an idea of the organic style of this trilogy, I call attention to Goramor. He is a character I introduced late in The Dreamer. As I prepared to write The Seeker (Dawn Bringer volume 2), I asked myself what Goramor’s role would be. That’s right, when I wrote The Dreamer, I had no idea what Goramor’s role would be! In the end, introducing Goramor turned out to be one of the best decisions I made. He plays a huge role in The Seeker and I had a wonderful time exploring his story.
That is not to say I did no planning. I did character outlines (with Goramor’s being done before The Seeker). These included physical descriptions, motivations, and general plot points. This was done following the snowflake method.
I used Excel to map out my story. This was long before I knew of great tools like Scrivener. I would list each of the main characters and factions as row headers and put the chapter headings as column headers. Then I’d plug in the scenes. As I got ideas while I was writing, I placed them in the correct chapter and moved back to them during revision.
What magical power would you want, or absolutely NOT want to possess, and why?
I’ve given this a lot of thought through the years. I’m sure many would not necessarily be comfortable with what I would want, but I assure everyone that I would only want to use it for the good of humanity.
My power of choice would be mental telepathy.
I see many cases in this world where we struggle to see justice. We are severely limited by the facts. In some cases, we can only rely on the testimony of individuals. And as humans, our memories and recollection of experiences can be severely impaired by the trauma of an event.
I would use this power to know with certainty if an accused person is guilty of a crime they are accused of. I would want to focus primarily on the worst of crimes (murder and rape). This would help to reduce the cases where a person is unjustly found guilty and it would identify with certainty the person that is guilty (if presented as a suspect).
What should readers look forward to in book 2?
I am very excited to be preparing The Seeker for release this fall. Here is some information that I have attempted to make as spoiler free as possible.
In the Seeker, Oryn and his companions travel to a lost kingdom. There, they discover that somehow the kai have access to magic. Humanity has been decimated and Oryn arrives just in time to witness a terrible event. As the summer solstice approaches, Oryn and his companions race against time to save the humans of the lost kingdom from a horrible kai ceremony. The kai stand against Oryn and his companions and they offer the deadliest challenge Oryn has ever witnessed. The Seeker is a story of hope against the greatest odds, and a story of survival against the most persistent and merciless foes.
Readers can expect a number of exciting things in The Seeker.
In The Dreamer, readers get an idea of how terrible the kai are. However, by the end of The Seeker, readers will likely hate the kai with as much passion as Oryn. In The Seeker, the kai are much stronger than any Oryn has faced before. They are ruthless and relentless in their efforts to deny Oryn his goal.
In addition, readers will get to see more of the kai organization. There are a number of scenes told from the viewpoint of the kai.
Readers will get to see a much stronger Oryn. Oryn was in great turmoil throughout The Dreamer. In The Seeker, he is a man with a purpose and that makes him much sharper. Readers will also get to learn a few more skills that Oryn has picked up in his years of life.
Readers will get to see Willem grow a lot in this book. In The Dreamer, he didn’t get to shine too much, but he gets a tremendous opportunity to shine in The Seeker.
This strange companion was introduced very late in The Dreamer. Readers can learn more about why he was introduced so late in the anecdotes I plan to release for The Dreamer on my website very soon. In The Seeker, readers will get a chance to learn a lot more about Goramor and I must say, I absolutely love this character.
A new companion
Readers will be introduced to a new companion. She is a native of the land Oryn and his companions travel to. She is a master hunter and a tremendous support in the struggle to overcome the kai.
A darker tale
The Dreamer was certainly a dark tale, but The Seeker will be a story that reaches a greater darkness. Survival becomes a huge part of the ordeal.
The Dreamer was a low magic story. Magic was presented, basically, as miracles. In The Seeker, for very good reasons, magic is far more prevalent.
James Kampel has been writing novels for over ten years. He is very happy to share his work with you! He writes fantasy novels with very strong character growth that really strike an emotional chord. He has published The Dreamer, the first volume of the Dawn Bringer trilogy, featuring Oryn the Undying. He has also published The Crest of Destruction, a novella featuring Oryn the Undying. James holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in library and information science. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his two beautiful cats. When he’s not writing or reading, James enjoys playing computer and video role playing games.
James was inspired by such greats as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, R.A. Salvatore, Ed Greenwood, Robert Jordan, and Stephen King. James will never forget the day he cracked open “Dragons of Autumn Twilight.” It began an adventure that continues to this day.
Author Web Site: www.jameskampel.com
The Dreamer can be purchased on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZM4H3H/
For readers that are interested, I published a free novella called The Crest of Destruction. It features Oryn and takes place 700 years before The Dreamer. This novella gives you a little insight into how Oryn became like he is in The Dreamer. It can be downloaded for free at http://www.jameskampel.com/free-book. All you have to do is sign up for my newsletter and I promise absolutely no spam.