SPOILER WARNING: AUTHORS Notes – Dutybound Reflections

Here we are a month post-launch and I’m still in this haze, riding this shroud of obscurity as I attempt to come to terms with my newfound identity as a published author.

My debut was nothing short of extraordinary. I was placed in a variety of circumstances I was not quite comfortable with, yet I couldn’t help but feel myself grow more eager with each new experience. From the Twitter Takeover with Young Entertainment Magazine to my interview with Fansided’s Winter-is-Coming.net.

My book tour had me engaging with book enthusiasts and I finally had my chance to check out the reviews of Dutybound’s earliest readers. I was quite surprised to see it was as well received as it was. Given the fact I completed the rough draft in high school and spent most of my college years rewriting and revising the first part. Admittedly, I wasn’t the most confident in the style and story structure of Vol. 1, but it seems that readers get the message. This is the beginning of a larger, more expansive story.

I took a lot of risks that I believed to be worthwhile in the end. I felt that the majority of my readers picked up on a lot of the key elements I was hoping they would. Knowing that this was merely the beginning and the heroes finding their virtue was the first step in their journey to destroy the darkness threatening their world left a lot open, a lot to think and wonder about where the series might be heading.

I wasn’t surprised by everyone’s fascination with Luzanna’s character. Even in retrospect, during the editing phase of my novel, I pointed out to myself and friends even that her character was refreshingly written into the narrative and provided it with a much needed layer of personality the book needed.Though I still feel that each of my characters still hold their own merits.

Lucia’s intuition and on-going search for her father and identity, Leo’s search for his will to fight after the collapse of his nation, or better said his pride, and Luzanna’s aspirations in building a better world and future for her people, just as these characters hold different virtues, they hold different goals and belief systems.

With the book finally being out, I’m finding it easier to talk about certain elements I wanted to keep secret prior to the book’s release. Some of which I touched on with my interview with Winter-is-Coming.net, where I was pressed to give away some details in order to illustrate how some elements of my story were inspired by my fascination with games like Final Fantasy. But there were some other inspirations I neglected to mention that inspired some of the epic fight sequences in Dutybound. One being, SoulCalibur, the historical fantasy fighting game series by Namco.

My interview with Winter-Is-Coming.net discussing Dutybound in unprecedented depth and scope.

Lucia’s shield bash and light backflip kick were inspired by my favorite SoulCalibur character, Cassandra Alexandra. Many of Lucia, Leo, and Luzanna’s close contact fighting styles were very much derivative of memories of playing the Soul Series games. Where as the mystical elements, such as my heroes’ ability to use the light’s power is something I pulled from my obsession with Final Fantasy IX and X.

But down to the philosophical themes of my novel, the familiar battle between light and darkness. This is where I started getting more original and using my own pondering of what ideals, morals, and virtue meant to myself and the world came into play.. Despite it being a tale as old as time itself, my story places the ideals of man at the center of the world’s natural order, being the source of all the power my heroes need to self-actualize and summon their “virtues”, physical manifestations of the values they hold closest.

The same way Dutybound was written without a singular villain in mind, I definitely wanted to set up the series to be about a group of heroes coming together as a team to fight a coming threat. The story certainly is Lucia’s, as she holds the relic that sets the story into motion, but these virtues are meant to be an extension of her own power. They all are essential to the Light’s plan to defeat its rival, the Darkness. Though I depict both elements as simple beings, composed of sin and virtue, they are very much the gods of Terestria. Though each are depicted to be either demonic or divine, their true motives are left unclear and the question of whether they are truly benevolent or malevolent in left to interpretation. But their rivalry, or rivalry in general, remains as a great theme in my novel and overall series.

Rivalry is a theme I felt I didn’t talk much about because I didn’t want to allude to the true central villain of the Light Wings Epic. Because there is one. There was bound to be an antagonist. Something that represented everything Lucia wasn’t. Becaus Lucia, someone who is meant to symbolize innocence and purification through the conviction of one’s morals, a symbol of the one thing that makes all virtue possible, needed an antithesis, someone who is meant to symbolize corruption, the taking of one’s innocence, the burdens of trauma and isolation, and the pain of consequences and convictions of the outside world. There had to be someone to balance and reflect on her in everyway.

I enjoyed that many liked the fact there are so many villains. And I assure everyone, Vol. 2 will show these villains developing into characters with motives as unique as the heroes that fight them, but at the center of these villains is one who was never meant to be a villain in the first place, someone who knows what is right but believes that she has no choice but to surrender her life to the Darkness due to the sins committed by her blood and family.

Emma Sarina, Protector of Light & High Priestess of Remena

Yes… Emma Sarina is the Light Wings Epic’s primary antagonist. And she will return…. with a vengeance. Because just as Lucia represents justice, Emma represents vengeance. Two very similar concepts separated by one thing, intent. And intent is rooted in conviction. Lucia’s conviction, however, is self-motivated and inspired by her duty. She holds herself accountable where Emma’s conviction is inspired by her ambition, her desire, and directed at those who she feels have wronged her and robbed her of her life, innocence, and freedom. Despite the stark differences, I hope people see the similarities between Lucia and Emma and notice that the only thing that separates them is simply perspective.

Within the climax of Dutybound, we see the creation of the Dark Wings. Anyone keen on the details within Dutybound will notice that the Darkness can only emerge where the Light Wings are. The Light Wings being the gate they needed to pass through to wreak the havoc of their existence. However, with the Dark Wings, Emma is now in full-control of the sins and will have the ability to summon them at will and bring them where ever she pleases.

It’s unseen and unheard, but the villains of my story held a motive through the entirety of the first volume of the Light Wings Epic, driving Lucia to the one place they needed to grant them the freedom to spread to the rest of the world. It should be quite terrifying, because this only reinforces the notion that Lucia is on a pre-defined path, one void of the free will and identity she so desires most of all.

But Lucia will have a rival in this “protector” and they will cross path again. And when they do, there will be consequences. The title Bloodbound has many interpretations and I encourage Dutybound readers to think critically of what “Bloodbound” could mean.

Dutybound is a story about finding purpose, virtue, and light in a world where there isn’t any. It’s about being lost in a dangerous world, filled with horror and high stakes, with faulty leaders, shady politics, and unreliable information. Where privilege is not what it seems.

Bloodbound will not be the same story.

By this time, the virtues have found their power and they have less to fear as they have uncovered the secrets to how the sins were created and are aware of how they can be destroyed. The stakes will be high, but not so high, that the virtues will not have the time to come to terms with their newfound power and learn to love one another as well as cherish their allies.

Relationships will play a key part in Bloodbound, as you can imagine family will be at the heart of the book. And I don’t say that lightly because it quite literally is a book about the heart. The bonds of family, the bonds of love… The final virtue being love. This book will be centered on the characters and their feelings for one another. But it will also be a story about the lengths one will go to for love, whether it’s romance, brotherhood, friendship, or family; these aspects of love will be explored at length.

Now I know what some might think. Love is getting its own book. And in reality, it is… Because it’s going to be a powerful virtue and the final piece that brings the Light into full force. But Emma’s hatred for her family will be the greatest threat Terestria has or ever will face. And without love there will be no atonement, no redemption, or salvation.

I do intend for Bloodbund to be vastly superior to Dutybound in every way. Not only have I grown as a writer since starting the series over 10 years ago, but Bloodbound will hold layers of depth that will challenge everything Dutybound set up. It won’t be doubling down on the truths discovered in Dutybound, but rather challenging them, changing our characters for better or for worse.

There will be struggles, hardships, and even war. Tundras, mountains, deserts and sea. So much is left to discover in the world of Terestria. I couldn’t be more excited. This is only the beginning guys.

Bloodbound: Light Wings Epic Vol. 2 is coming Summer 2023. To check out what readers are saying about Dutybound, check out its page on Goodreads.

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