Today is a first for me. I welcome Glenn Turner and Angel Torres to Jubilee Writer. They co-authored The Coming Future, a YA Fantasy. I’ve never had co-authors on my blog so I’m curious about your journey.
Glenn: I grew up being a reader of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books. I come from a fairly artsy family, and did a wide range of artistic activities, playing Keyboard, Guitar, Saxophone, French Horn, and Clarinet (maybe a few others that I forget now), as well as a bit of drawing and painting. When I was sixteen, I became a Christian, and I noticed in my Christian community that many folks did not approve of my love of fantasy. So, with plenty of other things to focus on, my affection for that genre grew cold over the years.
Fast forward to my thirties where I had some free time at one of my jobs, and I just felt inspired to write a bit. So I did. And as I did, some of the old stories I read as a kid came to mind. I began looking into fantasy again, and I made a discovery: the entire Fantasy genre was started by two Christians: J.R.R. Tolkein, and C.S. Lewis, the latter of which was a prominent theologian. I realized that some Christians that I had been around had wholesale rejected a literary genre that was created by two solid believers.
As I began writing some stories, I encountered Angel Torres at work. Angel shared some of his work with me, and then asked if I would like to collaborate on a project with him. So, began The Coming Future. Honestly, I didn’t take it serious at first. But as we worked on the project together, I got to be like, “Man, this isn’t too bad. It might go somewhere.”
We finished our first draft in 2015, and got about the business of finding an Agent or a Publisher, culminating in Clean Reads accepting our work in January, 2017, and we were published on 6.20.17.
Angel: I wasn’t much of a reader in my younger days; I was more into sports, friends, and video games. But everything changed in summer of 1998, when I put my hands on a video game that forever changed my life, Final Fantasy VII. My world was opened wide. I’ve always imagined himself being a professional basketball player, but now, my imagination was inspired by role-playing stories from movies and games. I filled up notebook after notebook with stories, but after moving from Puerto Rico to the United States, my creative vision shifted to writing song lyrics and pursuing the American dream. Then, around 2010, I met Glenn.
Tell my readers, about your project.
Glenn: I’d be happy too.
The Coming Future is a coming-of-age story about a young man, Aalok, who doesn’t quite fit into the place he was born in. He lives in a crystal city on a flat planet where the sun rises out of the sea and sets on the other side of the planet. Aalok belongs to the ‘owr clan, which is the clan of light. But when he reaches the age where members of his clan begin developing abilities congruent with their clan, Aalok’s abilities are largely silent. Instead, he begins having apocalyptic dreams of a coming disaster. Suspecting that this is a form of his developing ‘owr abilities, Aalok goes to his instructor at the school, and then the Prime Minister of his city, but his dreams are largely ignored; until the disaster actually happens. Aalok then discovers there may be more to events than natural coincidence.
Intermixed within the book are various struggles with school, sports, and girls, much of which are formed out of the authors’ personal experiences and observations of kids today. Angel, at the time of writing, was a youth group director.
This book was a fun write, and is a fun read. It has elements of steampunk, fantasy, and a hint of dystopian future that should appeal to today’s young adult audience, but one of our reviews from Amazon reads: While the story is obviously geared to young readers, it was a very enjoyable read for me, a great-grandma.
What kind of research did you do for The Coming Future?
Angel & I read a fair amount of young adult novels and I made a special effort to watch a few Steampunk movies and shows to better understand the genre. There’s something about Steampunk that just seems fun to me. (Editor’s note: Steampunk is history with a twist of modern science. For example: machine guns during the Renaissance period.)
You may not realize it on a first read, but the work is heavily influenced by the Bible. From the names, many of which are from Biblical Hebrew or Greek, to the clans, whose origins can be found in the first chapter of Genesis, there is a strong Biblical influence to the work.
Several other character names were derived from other languages as well. For instance, the main character, Aalok, means ‘Light of God’ in Hindi, and he is from the clan of light, the ‘owr, which is the Hebrew word for light.
How does co-authoring work? How do you guys do this together?
Initially, the process was a little disjointed. Angel and I got together and discussed what we wanted out of a story. Who is our audience? What style? What kind of ‘magic’ is in the story? What is our main character going to be like? What about supporting characters? The world? We answered and debated those questions a little, and initially, we agreed on most of that.
After that, I sat down and started writing. The first few chapters came out pretty quickly, and what we see now is pretty similar to what came out initially. Then, after 4 chapters or so, Angel began outlining each chapter with ideas that we wanted to put in the chapter, and I would flesh it out. Most of the time, I included (almost) all of what he wanted, and then added a bit more as I was inspired. I kind of walked through the story with Aalok, and thought, “What would he encounter next? What logically flows here?” I also would ask, “How can I create some more conflict?” and I would sometimes think, “We need a new, interesting character here.”
All of the kids in school, with the exception of Tenebris Pruir, a raging nerd, were mostly Angel’s doing. Aalok’s Dad, the instructor from the exile nation/school, and the coach of the domeball team (domeball is similar to soccer, except, well, in a dome) we worked on together.
So our process was (1) work together on the concepts, characters, and setting, (2) Angel outlines, (3) I write out what Angel outlined, (4) Angel reads what I wrote, adds in a few details or things I forgot, or just stuff that would make it cooler, (5) I edit based on Angel’s feedback, (6) I go back to #3 and write out the next chapter. Repeat infinitum, or at least until we are done!
What Inspired you to write The Coming Future?
Angel & I set out to write a fun book with relatable characters facing issues that teens face. We wanted to write characters facing problems where they made good and sometimes bad decisions, and then saw the consequences of those decisions. At the time we wrote the book, Angel served as a Youth Director at his church, and we modeled some of the struggles the characters face off of what he saw in the lives of kids he knew.
I love layered stories that you have to peel back, so within the book, there are multiple mysteries and things that are happening that you may not realize. Then, when you arrive at something that will come out in book 3, you will go back and look at 1, and realize, “oh, that was that the whole time, and I never saw it!”
We were also inspired by our youths and things that we just didn’t get growing up. One silly example: as a kid, I never understood stretching before playing baseball. Neither does Aalok. He struggles through stretching exercises when playing sports, wondering why he is doing it. He also finds himself without appropriate equipment for practice, making him a little unsteady and unsure of himself. These are all things I’ve faced in my youth.
Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?
Glenn: I very much love Matthew 6:33 – but seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Growing up, I struggled with anxiety a lot. Working as a Registered Nurse, I always found myself worrying about what I may have missed or forgotten. This verse calms me and centers me, allowing me to direct my nervous attention to my God rather than my worries. Now, twenty years later, I find that God has given me grace to embrace this verse, and freed me from the worries of my youth.
Angel: My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” God knows the plan that he has for me and by walking beside him, reading his word, gaining his wisdom and learning perseverance, I always find the love and joy that only he can provide}
Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?
Glenn: I think much of my focus is self-motivated. I feel like I have stories living inside me that want to come out! In my work environment, I will sometimes have an hour or two of dead time without any responsibilities, so I use it to write. But if I had to select some sort of muse, I would say it comes from conversations I have with my friend, Marc, whom I will be releasing a book and game with in 2019. I am often excited about writing after chatting with him.
Angel: My best support system to keep me focused on writing is music. My passion and love for music has always been a core value towards the imagination to create stories just like The Coming Future.
What is your favorite genre to read for fun?
Glenn: I love the fantasy genre. Good ole swords and sorcery and saving the world. I have enjoyed some urban fantasy as well.
Angel: I love everything in the young-adult fantasy genre.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Glenn: I dunno. I have a romantic image of myself writing in Medard Park in Dover, FL, but I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it yet. Plus, I’m in the middle of July right now, and it feels like 100 degrees. I think my current favorite is on the back patio, overlooking some trees and, presently, a pond (though it dries up in winter). It’s very peaceful.
Angel I love to write and get ideas in small close places, like my closet or even in the bathroom. Headphones, music and an open imagination.
Do you listen to anything while writing?
Glenn: Hmmm… I don’t mind silence. I like the sounds of nature. But I also like a Pandora station I made that plays instrumental movie soundtracks.
Angel I like to listen to instrumental music, like movie soundtracks and instrumental bands like “Hammock”.
Back-cover blurb for The Coming Future
Living in a crystal city on a flat world, Aalok Collins is an ordinary boy living in an extraordinary place. But Aalok fears that he is a little too ordinary.
All Aalok cares about, besides playing domeball, and, much to his surprise, girls, is his final exam which will determine whether or not he can move on to the Academy next year, or whether he is forced into slavery or exile. But as he waits on nature to develop within him the powers, or anima that all in his clan possess, he is haunted by dreams of an imminent tragedy.
As he begins exploring the meaning of his dreams, Aalok encounters a plot to take control of an ancient artifact which could change the base of power in the city of Sherendot, and possibly throughout the ‘owr clan.
About the Authors:
Turner & Torres is comprised of Glenn D. Turner & Angel Torres, who met at work at a doctor’s office around 2010. Sharing a love of writing, they began getting together at lunch to comprise a story that young adults could enjoy with characters that readers would be able relate to.
Glenn has some additional writing projects that he is noodling with that may be put into print someday. He deeply adores his wife and four children, and is trying to learn how to play nice with others.
Angel, too, is a dedicated family man who lives in the Tampa Bay area, working in the medical field. He is excited about the Coming World, Turner & Torres’ second installment of the Aalok Collins series.
Thanks for stopping by, guys. Sounds like a fun adventure in store for your readers.
Click the title to purchase The Coming Future.