By Dan Allen
Have you ever wished you could sneak onto the set of your favorite movie, or pilfer the notes of your favorite author and get the rest of the story—everything that never made it into the books or onto the big screen? Just dive into the creator’s imagination and soak it all up? I got to do that once.
The day I got unrestricted access to the Super Dungeon vault (shared drive), my fingers were just tingling. There, right in front of me, was the Super Dungeon bible—the top-secret repository of all the lore, legends, races, magic, characters, and story arcs in the Super Dungeon tabletop game series. You’ve got to be kidding me! Me, my editor, and four other authors in the series were the only people outside of the Super Dungeon team to get inside the proverbial Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of chibi fantasy mayhem.
After some hands-on play testing with the authors, the editorial team shared with us the “treatment”: the over-arching story arc for the series. I got assigned the penultimate book in the series and it didn’t take long to realize why. The story was heart-wrenching. It was the perfect way to marry my inner child with the angsty teen fantasy and realistic sci-fi I had been writing for the last 10 years. At that point, the characters were just sketches, but immediately I knew what to do with them. It was going to be a story told from multiple perspectives. Each character had their own abilities and motivations. Each was an outcast. Only together could they succeed.
This was my first all-ages fiction in over a decade, and I just cut loose. I could be as zany as I wanted—yes, the princess did just drink a potion and blow a giant pink bubble to rescue her friends. Yes, the chaos kitty just collapsed an entire ice shelf—and it’s going to get worse! But I could also go deep with the magic and the emotions. Terras, a half-elf exile, experiments with combining light and dark magic. Will reaching into the dark realm to draw power be his demise or will it be the thing that saves them all?
Writing about somebody else’s world can feel daunting, but I found that more often than not, my ideas lined up perfectly with what the creators were thinking. At one point I imagined a creeping dark presence that was spreading and feeding the spawning points, a dark analogue of the life-giving Deeproot tree. We had a call with the Super Dungeon team and learned that this was, in fact, in the canon. It was called “The Thorn” and it shows up in chapter 5 of Dungeons of Arcadia.
Perhaps what surprised me the most was the relationship that developed between Gork and Ruby. Gork is a young dwarf prince, a daring innovator and a misfit among the tradition-bound dwarves. Ruby is the endearing fourth princess of prophecy—a human, dubbed by Terras as the prissy princess of pretty pink perfection, but whose magic may go even deeper than his. It felt a little like Tauriel and Fili in the Hobbit movies, but with a Super Dungeon-style chibi innocence and magic to it all.
I had chills as I wrote the closing scenes. My daughter Clara was there clinging to my arm, crying and smiling. But the best part about doing this novel series was walking into the girls’ room and seeing my teenage daughter Nicole curled up on her bed, book in front of her face, devouring the story, oblivious to anything else. I backed up, shut the door, and left her in Crystalia. That was a moment worth all the editing and effort of creating this story.
What was it like writing a Super Dungeon novel? In a word, it was an adventure.
Meet the Author:
Dan’s alter ego is a physicist working in Silicon Valley. His true self lives at his albino rainbow unicorn rescue ranch in the Rocky Mountains. After his attempt to create flying unicorns by crossing donkeys with quail resulted in interplanetary sanctions, he turned to writing fiction. His recent books include middle grade adventure Pizza Boy and the Super Squad and the young adult epic fantasy/sci-fi thriller The Exalting. For the latest on Dan’s books, signings, and cosplay, visit authordanallen.com.
This is part 5 of a 6 part series.
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