Before clicking “publish” on Realm Keepers: Episode One, I felt the need to include an Author’s Note. I knew generally what I wanted to say, but not exactly. So I started, and by the time I was finished I had said more than I ever thought I would, and exactly as much as I needed to. I thought it might be of interest to some.
from Garrett Robinson
This note was a last-minute addition to Episode One. The day we were going to publish, I realized there wasn’t anything in the book that was a personal communication from us to you.
If this is your first time reading one of our books, thank you. If you’ve read one of our individual books before, or our first collaboration, The Ninjabread Man, thanks for coming back.
As unbelievable as it seems, this is the first book I’ve published since I was let go from my job three months ago.
The idea for Realm Keepers came about before that. Z. C. and I were both writing and publishing independently, in and around everything we were doing to pay the bills—my 9-to-5, his odd jobs.
One day, I had the idea for the story. The central concept (going to sleep on Earth and waking up in another world) was strongly inspired by two excellent fantasy novels I read in my youth: Slaves of Sleep and Masters of Sleep. The format (six high school kids balancing real life with high adventure, told from each kid’s viewpoint) was taken from my favorite series when I was a teenager (which I still love today), Animorphs by K.A. Applegate.
Those were the original building blocks. From there, Z. C. and I began working out who these characters were, what they did and why they’d matter to anyone. Each creative moment grew better than the last. The moment I realized that Sarah would be the leader of the group, giving the story a strong female role model, was when I first started to fall truly in love with the story. When we thought up Calvin (and named him Calvin), Z. C. and I were in glee. Raven came next, and when we came up with her first scene (containing a closeted reference to an early episode of the Self Publishing Podcast) we knew we had something special. Miles, Blade and Tess all followed suit—it’s hard to describe the creation of those characters without spoiling the later part of the series. Suffice to say, we think you’ll love it.
So Realm Keepers was in full swing. That said, progress was slow. I had a job, after all, and I have a family: a wife, two kids, and a third on the way. Z. C. is busily running his own publishing house, promoting his first novel, writing his second and developing stories with other authors.
At the time, our writing careers were doing okay and getting better, but it definitely wasn’t anywhere near “quit-your-job” good.
And then, suddenly, I didn’t have a job to quit.
With the incredible support of my wife as well as help from the guys at the Self Publishing Podcast (especially Sean Platt—love you, man!) I became a full-time writer instead. I’d still do freelance jobs, such as book editing and website design, for extra cash wherever I could. But that was now my side job. Writing was what would (hopefully) pay the bills. It was my career now, and I gave it my all.
Truth be told, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew it had to be a matter of time before things became so dire that I’d be forced to go job-hunting once more, putting my dreams on hold that much longer. And yet somehow I’ve managed to eke it out this far.
During this time, I’ve written more than 150,000 words. A lot of it has been for Midrealm, the first book of Realm Keepers. A lot of it has been for another collaborative project with Sean. A tiny fraction of it has been for my next solo novel, Rebel Yell.
But this book you hold in your hands (via your e-reader, probably) is the first book I’ve published since I became a full-time writer.
So I really hope you enjoyed it. And I hope you’ll continue reading it with me.
I know that our lives today are crazy and hectic. I know that you have so many options for how to spend your time, it’s a battle for anything to catch your attention. I’m thrilled you’ve decided to spend at least some of it on our book. If you go on to read all of Midrealm, we promise to do our best not to let you down.
Z. C. and I believe that time spent on books is not wasted. Even “escapist fantasy,” as our book has been called (and almost certainly is) doesn’t mean time spent reading “in lieu of something better.” Stories are important to all of us. They’re a part of who you are. They can shape your life, no matter how outlandish they seem or how implausible. You can think of examples right off the top of your head of stories that you’ve never forgotten, that still apply to your real life.
We believe in the power of books. Not just as entertainment, but as tools to shape and enhance people of whatever age. If we didn’t feel that way, I wouldn’t be putting my family through such financial stress just to “write a cute novel.”
Thanks again for reading. We hope to see you for the next one.