by Dave Maruszewski
GENRE: Children’s/ Chapter Books/ Middle Grade
Recently knighted squires Raven, Romda, and Ravai are tasked to help a nearby priest. However, this simple errand turns into much more. They cross paths with the Dark Beast. After that brief encounter, they soon realize the Beast’s plans to destroy an entire town. They journey to this town, meeting residents who tell large tales about the Beast. How much of stories are true? The three will find out. The Dark Beast is coming.
“Wow, that was crazy,” Ravai practically shouts.
“Crazy, but true,” says the driver. “But you all look like you could fall asleep.”
“Why do you say that?” says Ravai.
“Well, for one, your friend keeps falling asleep,” he says, and the driver’s friends snicker. “And your female friend hasn’t said a word since we teamed up. Maybe you should rest. We can stop here.”
Ravai doesn’t feel that tired, but he sees the look in Romda’s eyes that it might be a good idea. He acknowledges the stranger’s words, and they stop. It is in the middle of nowhere, trees and small fields all around.
Raven crawls to the nearest log and tries to lie on it. Romda isn’t so easily satisfied. She instead starts to pitch tent and gets out her small bedroll. Her movements are so slow it looks like she won’t be done for an hour.
Ravai continues to talk to the driver. “Turning people into beavers? That’s not possible. You are pulling my leg. How can that be true?”
“It is, I swear,” the driver says.
“How would you know?” Ravai challenges the driver.
“Because my grandfather gave him the rune and spell to do so…and now I serve the master,” the man says coldly.
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
It’s hard to say exactly where I am from, because I have moved around a bit. At one point, I had moved to 8 different places in 7 years.
I was born in Milwaukee, moving at a young age to Western New York where I grew up. In late high school, I moved to Maryland. I then proceeded to move back to Milwaukee and (all around) Maryland again. I am now in Indiana.
I realized along the way that this relocating was shaping my personality and who I was. That has made me kind of transitory. I move on from one thing to the next very easily, but have a hard time sticking to one thing. I think it has shaped how I relate to people as well.
I am married and have a son. For some people, friends turn into family. I’m lucky. My family members are my friends. I like hanging out with them and tends to make me even more family oriented.
By the way, if you wondered what place was the best, I don’t want to pick one favorite. However, I think that I prefer the Midwest. There are lots of friendly people here.
How do you create your characters?
A surprising amount of time, I start off with someone that I know. Then, I will expand their personality and/or remove other aspects. Other times, I will see what one of the themes of my books produces. If I am going in a certain direction in terms of plot, I’ll need a character to produce that direction or have some sort of effect to produce the theme.
In The Dark Beast, I used one of my son’s friends as the basis for Ravai. As the book expanded, I started to make him a conglomerate of many of his friends. Then, I pared away less interesting parts of their personalities and the things that might feel contradictory.
The Dark Beast character was created in order to feed the theme. I wanted portray a person in conflict with himself (without knowing it.) I also wanted to show the physical and mental changes occur to a person when they can’t break free from their anger and passion. It’s funny. The Dark Beast sees the world with keenness, but that is also distorted. So, he can’t quite get to the right conclusions.
What inspires and what got you started in writing?
I always kid that my son inspired me because I wanted him to go to bed. He had some sleeping anxiety, and would regularly take a long time to fall asleep. We did all the classic fairy tales, but I think we both started getting bored of them, me especially. I wanted to give my own story a shot. He liked it so much that allowed me to make it episodic. He got to interact along the way as well. He was much more into it then just reading.
Eventually, I had a body of work that I thought was decent. My wife suggested writing them down. It turns out that I have no fear of writing ☺ My writing came quite naturally. After I formalized the shape of the first book, I thought it was good enough to give it a go.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
I think there are two sources: themes and my son. Many times, I gave my son the option of what bad guys that he’d like to see in the book. So, he will come up with scenarios or just a simple antagonist.
Similar to character creation, I also want to write about certain points that I would like to make. The points are fairly soft in that I don’t hit people over the head with them. I try to pose them as topics to think on more.
The nice thing is that when I come up with these themes, the story tends to tumble out. Almost every context can use the theme. For example, I may want to talk on how people handle criticism. That can permeate in a simple conversation between characters. It can also come up in the context of decisions that make the future of the kingdom. How about in the way they handle a villain? It’s all there!
Once I have a starting point with who I want to be the antagonist and what themes that I want to bounce around, the book writing starts to flow smoother.
What do you like to read?
I don’t read for pleasure as much as the average booklover. I have taught for 20 years, so I have read many, many textbooks. I actually like to read textbooks now. I only pleasure read a (large) minority of time. I often have my head in a programming book, a bunch or articles related to my work, or some online information. I like biographies and autobiographies, preferably of more modern people. When I go fiction, I want to try to get away from the real world almost as far as possible. I like fantasy or supernatural based stuff.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
For aspiring writers, I would say that there are many ways to publish. Don’t get caught up in one way. You might have a great book and no agent seems to even want to look at it. You have other options as well. You can self-publish or use hybrid publishing methods. You can even write smaller articles for companies that might open doors.
Network! I once had a student who was not the best. By that, I mean he was pretty mediocre. However, he certain knew how to network. He got jobs way before anyone else in his class and with big named companies. He knew how to meet people and create (and ask for) opportunity. By the way, I think the key to networking is not to be a car salesman or a walking resume, but establish a friendly relationship with those in your field. Much will take care of itself after that.
Lastly, do you truly want to write? If you can imagine yourself writing while making a small salary with no fanfare, do it. Have fun with it and keep going. If you can’t, maybe you aren’t in it for the right reasons. You might have skills and tools for another similar career. God may be calling you to use your writing skills in something that more suits you.
Dave Maruszewski is blessed with a great family. He was originally inspired to write stories by his wife and son, when they encouraged him to put his bedtime stories on paper.
His stories are created from an accumulation of experiences from careers/backgrounds as a physicist, engineer, teacher, artist, video game designer and software developer. He strives to develop stories with sound moral values that will be enlightening as well as entertaining to youths and adults.
In between writing stories and running his own company, Digital Tumult (DigitalTumult.com), Dave enjoys video games, watching internet videos and hanging out with his family.
The book is on sale for $0.99 during the tour.
Dave Maruszewski will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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