When I decided to begin creating audio drama I did it with one thing in mind, and that goal had nothing to do with becoming a published author.
Back in 2015, I wanted to get into audio drama (otherwise referenced as fictional podcasting) because I noticed the immense success of shows like Welcome to Night Vale and We’re Alive. And I wanted to be part of that scene. It seemed exciting, from the outside looking in.
I had been involved in podcasting for a number of years, but what I was doing was nothing remotely as fun as working in fiction. I decided to change that one fateful spring day in 2015. I wanted to play in other locations, maybe even other worlds, with new faces and the fresh ideas that only fiction can provide.
What I didn’t anticipate was falling in love with my first love so deeply. Not again. ‘First loves’ were called such for more than chronological reasons. First loves are unique, special, and a one-time deal. Like many instances in life, the first experience is life altering. We’re never quite the same person we were after we’ve experienced that thing for the first time.
Fiction was that love for me. I started writing as an eight-year-old. It was during a school assignment. But I dug into it with a level of enthusiasm that only youth can inject into one’s creativity. And I won that 2nd grade writing contest (yes, it was still okay back then to have contests and determine that someone had to be the winner) with an amazing story about werewolves and vampires. You may have heard of it; it was pretty popular.
No, not that one.
Mine was set in Central New York and vampires still work cloaks in my version.
Sadly, I have to admit that I can only joke about my fame as well. Even after such an amazing start to a writing career, it (success) never came.
But my love of writing never faded. I did what most people do. Finished high school and went and became an adult. And that journey took me further and further away from my creative pursuits with each passing day. I had a full-time job in the military, became a husband, and too shortly thereafter, became a father. I pursued educational and personal goals that had nothing to do with my creativity or creative pursuits. The most creative endeavors I enjoyed centered around my military job. And trust me; none of them were fulfilling. In fact, I rarely had a creative idea outside of writing music for well over a decade.
The muse was dead.
In the early 2006 I was suddenly a single, broke father. I had two girls to care for and only one income. To make matters worse, I lived in a major metropolitan area on the East Coast that didn’t provide many public school options, forcing me into difficult financial choices in order to provide for my daughters. One of the unforeseen blessings of that experience (and how often can we be enthused by not having any money?) was the fact that being broke kept me at home often. And I began to write again.
The result was that I completed my first novel, a 300,000+ word fantasy. I wrote it in nine months and was able to get 180,000 words into the second book in the series before Uncle Sam decided that I needed to spend some time in Iraq. Within six months of coming home from that tour of duty, I found myself leaving my family again. This time it was for a year and it was the far east that was on the itinerary. As disruption (and real life) is wont to do to many creatives, my writing took a back seat and disappeared for a number of years.
The odd reality about things you love is that they never truly go away. I felt the call to create again when I heard those episodes of the aforementioned audio dramas. Most importantly, I began to write for the first time in nearly a decade in a format (scriptwriting) I’d never studied or even cracked open a ‘dummies’ book on. The result was a satirical comedy podcast known as Atheist Apocalypse (since defunct). There were a lot of rough edges and a lot of regrettable experiences in creating that show. But, what it did for me that changed the course of my life was that it helped me discover that there were thousands and thousands of people in the world who wanted to hear my stories. It was undeniable; I wanted to be involved in fiction again. So I soon started putting thought to other projects. That’s where the concept behind Subject: Found was born. It was with that show that I realized the full potential of audio drama. The download numbers were insane and the growth of the audience vociferous and evident.
I had found my tribe.
I saw the potential in the art form. What I also saw was a potential avenue to get back to writing a novel. Now, more than two years later, I have four complete novels in various store forms of publication or preparation for publication. There are plans for over 30 novels waiting for me to find the time to get to them (in addition to the 48 story ideas I have for Subject: Found). There are over 10 unpublished audio dramas sitting on my hard drive, of different genres, waiting for the market to change or for me to suddenly fall face-first into a whole lot of free time. All of these stories could easily be adapted to novel form. Each and every day, my audience grows and the support for my work strengthens. It’s an absolutely humbling experience, one I still cannot believe I’m lucky enough to enjoy.
I plan on doing a number of blog entries about my journey in hopes that I reach other quiet writers who don’t think they can (or will) ever find an audience for their work.
Let me be very clear: you can.
So, follow along with me on this ride. It is my hope that I can share tidbits with you that will empower and encourage you to chase your dream.