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Book Name and Description: Passage to Portrainia
The world of Portrainia is like a fairy tale where things you never thought imaginable exist – a common ground for lucid dreamers. It is seen through an unconscious body, mind and soul, where three young teens discover their dreaming lives are just as real as their waking lives.
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What inspired you to write Passage to Portrainia? How has this published work evolved throughout your stages of writing?
While the concept of dreams has always fascinated me, Passage to Portrainia has gone through about five or six drafts before it reached its current, published form. I remember the first time I began to write it (around 2008), it was a fan-fiction based on a well-known (within the gaming community) video game that had been cancelled, and eventually transformed into a different story. I decided to turn that around.
I had written a full story from start to finish set in the world of Portrainia, although, at the time, it was not a literal dream world; rather, I had taken the “high fantasy” route and created a world set in an entirely different place other than Earth. The format for the story was blog post-like and episodic: I would post a new “chapter” every few days until the story ended. For the most part, I got positive feedback from it.
About a month later, I planned a sequel to this “draft,” (how I consider it now), which would be more interactive in nature. People who signed up to this gaming forum could “role play” their own characters, but the project never took off. At that point, proud that I had published an entire story (even in a non-formal way), I was becoming more interested in dreaming – lucid dreaming especially. I would borrow dream dictionaries and books from my local library and analyze certain elements I’d experience in dreams. It’s amazing to think about how accurate “meanings” are. Not necessarily paranormally, but, for example, if you’re experiencing undue stress in your life, and you dream of murky water and sky, that “illustrates” your feelings in real life.
This was the real inspiration for Passage to Portrainia. I always loved the name of this world and wanted to incorporate it into one of my writing projects. About four years ago, I decided to marry my interest in dreaming with this fantasy world, and create a place meant only for those who had the willpower to lucid dream. A literal dreamworld is not a concept explored widely in fantasy and science fiction, so I wanted to present how something like it could potentially play out.
What got you into writing young adult fantasy?
It’s a genre to which I’ve been attracted ever since I could remember. In my spare moments growing up, I would spend hours daydreaming of make-believe places, even drawing full-color maps of different landmarks, locations, dungeons, etc., that a protagonist in a story would travel to.
When I’d play video games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask (the latter of which I believe to be the most compelling story I’ve ever seen in a video game), which I’ve owned for nearly 18 and 17 years, respectively, I’d be enthralled with the thought, attention to detail, and creativity that went into the development of storylines, and how different locations and fictional creatures interacted with each other.
As a genre, fantasy can have various categories (young adult, general audience, and more mature themes), and children’s literature is still my most favorite to this day. It allows for important morals to be incorporated and taught to its audience, life skills that can be used in the real world. Throughout my childhood, I would think to myself, “Wow, I hope I can create a rich world and story just by using my imagination.” That’s what really got me into writing young adult fantasy.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. I can’t begin to tell you how many unfinished drafts I have stored in my home, from the ages of 5 and 6 to the present. Professionally, I’ve been writing for many years, on a freelance basis and in my current role. I have experience writing journalistically, mainly feature stories with human interest.
What is your favorite book, as a reader, and why? Has any author(s) influenced and inspired your work?
Although I equally admire all seven Harry Potter books, one of the most significant turning points occurs in The Goblet of Fire, the fourth in the series. The atmosphere is foreboding, almost as though you expect something dastardly to happen at any moment. Although the main event (literally, the Triwizard Tournament) is meant to showcase the power of wizards and witches, and have them compete against one another, its outcome was manipulated to resurrect one of the darkest, sociopathic villains ever created. Even rereading the book for the third and fourth time, I still get a sense of panic that a formidable force is about to terrorize the world, as if I was reading it for the first time.
J.K. Rowling, Ransom Riggs, Charles Dickens, and Roald Dahl have influenced my creativity, because their works have challenged me to build multi-dimensional worlds you can lift off the page. A lot of mental labor goes into creating a fantasy plot, because you must establish a living, breathing society of its own, just like we do in the real world.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
By exposure to new ideas and life experiences. I find when I write, I’ll first spend time “researching” my credibility to the topic, even if it’s fiction. When I read a new fantasy book, watch a movie, or play a new video game, I think about how the writer/creator drew on their own hardships or positive “flashbulb” moments in their lives (which happens frequently in literature) to tell the story.
Writing and publishing a novel has granted me the practical experience needed to hone my skills.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’m proud of my debut novel, Passage to Portrainia – particularly the fantasy world I’ve built with my imagination. I’ve always admired the raw talent authors possess and I feel accomplished that I’ve done something similar. As fantasy authors, I believe it’s our duty to create safe havens to which people can escape. Reality can be harsh at times, so it’s important to be able to lose ourselves in a world separate from our own. It’s a good way to recharge.
For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
Passage to Portrainia best represents my work. I lean towards “high fantasy” worlds connected to the real world in some way, but not accessed by normal means. When it comes to the places themselves, I try to introduce fantasy elements seldom or never seen. I build them up to the best of my ability, including places to travel to and quests to complete.
What are you doing next?
I have a couple of writing projects in progress. At one point, Passage to Portrainia’s plot was going to be merged (although I didn’t know it yet; I hadn’t separated the stories) with another idea I have, and that would have served as its own story. For now, I’m working on a plot that incorporates this idea as the main theme.
Residing in Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada, Wesley Butler works in academic administration & communications for higher education. Passage to Portrainia, his debut novel, was released December 2018 under Amazon Kindle Self-Publishing. A former freelance writer, Wesley has served as associate editor of FAME Canada, a music and cultural news website, and as a columnist/reviewer for Independent Music Promotions.
© The Literary Librarian 2019