On the night of his thirteenth birthday, Ex has an unexpected meeting with a mysterious man. This encounter reveals Ex's supernatural destiny as an “Era Key,” the only one of his generation, who can move freely and mysteriously through time.
The Book, in Tony's Own Words
Like many of my kind, I was a severely shy and introverted child. It took all I had to make the few friends I did by the third grade, and when I had to bid them goodbye I was more than devastated. It was perhaps the first time I suffered for my father’s mistakes – the first in what would be a long, perpetually worsening pattern of such injustice; and though I believe he never actually meant to hurt me and mine---if I am to tell the truth---the facts cannot be hidden or denied. But I loved him, my father, even when I was forced to leave the private school where I felt I belonged and had to begin attending the local public school where I knew no one and would have to start over. As I look back now, it is clear to me that school was where I felt the loneliest. My younger brothers and I were very close at home but in school we rarely saw one another. Thus, toward the end of the third grade, well before I had yet to mature to the point where God’s presence and love were evident and comprehensible, I needed a new friend, one who could never be taken from me: and so I created Ex.
In the first grade, I had an assignment to write a short story about my fictional hero. My project completed, the subsequent praise from my teachers and peers convinced me that I had a natural penchant for creative writing. Unfortunately, up to this point---alone in a new school in the third grade---I had never written about a person or character that I myself constructed. So, basing him initially on a favorite video game character from that era (the early 90’s), I finally created my first-ever original character: Exodus Magaba.
I filled notebooks with our exploits, our adventures – mine and Ex's. Whenever I would face an awkward situation or threat in the “real world”, I would immediately think about what Ex would do if he were actually there with me – how he would defend me, support me, understand me. And somehow, with his help---a mere figment of my imagination, mind you (to cite for an instant the power of the creative mind) ---I was always okay in the end. Soon, however, it became apparent that my imaginary friend needed more – his very own fictional world. I would face a difficult task: relegating myself to the realm of “behind the scenes”. I would have to take myself out of the equation. I would have to leave my dear Ex alone in order to discover what kind of friends he needed in his world. And so, based on Ex’s triumphs and shortcomings alike, new characters began to emerge – like Jared Jack, who would inevitably take my place as Ex’s best friend. Jared's darkness formed a necessary equilibrium to Ex’s formidable light. Then more characters were born – like Gadget, Ex’s beloved baby brother, who, in fiction, embodied the powerful bond my own younger brothers and I shared in reality. Soon Ex had an entire network of friends and loved ones, enemies and rivals, and though it pained me to see that Ex had gone from being my friend to being a sort of “other me”, an alter ego in an alternate world. I loved every minute of orchestrating the exploits of him and his friends, guiding them through their adolescent adventures in “Toronto Town”.
As I grew older, I wanted more for Ex. My love for fantasy books, movies, and especially video games was the fuel to develop Ex, the characters, and the story further, though the result of this effort would not manifest for years to come. I spent my entire childhood and early adulthood trying to create a fantasy world separate from Ex’s, afraid of changing the rules and truths of Ex’s universe. In my early writings, I succeeded in carving out magical realms with heroes and villains---ones that received positive reviews from my “real world” friends and family---but my thoughts would always return to Exodus and his lot before I could complete any new fantasy works of fiction. I loved Ex and his friends; they shared my experiences – my joys, my betrayals, my very coming of age (and even, dare I say, my perversions – especially during my teenage years) and they never judged me. Ex and his “crew” shared my mistakes and took part in my revelations. They were always there for me and helped me evolve into the man I became.
During my 25th year, my father died of a massive and unexpected heart attack. As we were a very close family, this tragedy altered our course dramatically. My father's death made me feel very alone in a very frightening world. Thus I turned inward to my created world: Ex’s world. It was but a month after my father died when I was struck with a revelation. What would happen if I combined my world and Ex's into one story? What if I took Ex’s fantastical world of Odyssia and fused it with mine? With absolutely nothing to lose, I sowed the seed. After three years of writing and a fourth trying to get published, the story flowered beautifully into my first novel, Over Odyssey: Yellow. This epic fantasy novel is the first in a wondrous---yet charmingly realistic---series that is quite likely the brightest light in my life next to my relationship with God.
The lesson to aspiring authors? Never be afraid to write – to mold beloved characters and try new things with them. In my 29 years, I have learned that the moment a writer fears putting that which is born in his mind onto paper – that is the moment he stops being a writer. This act of non-commission is the one and only instance when a writer can truly fail at being a writer. Be true to your characters, your world, and your eccentricities and---though it may take some time---you will find your Over Odyssey. You will find your inspiration…just as I did.
And what a journey it will be.