HUDSON -- In the backroom of a downtown Hudson building, Douglas Van Dyke Jr. and his brother would transport themselves to a different world.
Their parents were wary of role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, so the two created their own, crafting a world and rule systems in the backroom of Marnie Marie Photography. Van Dyke, a longtime writer, knew and loved the world so well that when he started to write his own books he made it the basis for the fantasy world where most of them take place.
“It just seemed the most natural backdrop,” he said.
He now shares that world with his readers and is inviting more people to join it with a book signing 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at Chapter2Books just a few doors down from where the game was created.
Van Dyke has been writing since he was a young teen. He started with short, action-based pieces, drawing inspiration from movies, books and video games.
“I kept getting these ideas, and I decided it would be good to actually write them down,” he said.
The first book he wrote was never published.
“It was just for me,” he said.
After that he started crafting works he wanted to share.
Van Dyke published his “The Earth in Stones: Inheritance of a Sword and a Path” in 2005, the first of a series. He now has published seven stories, most of which take place in the fantasy world of Dhea Loral. It is a breathing world that encompasses unusual characters and series.
His most recent book, “Boxer Earns His Wings,” steps out of this world, taking on steampunk Wild West feel. It’s a shorter story that is action-packed, Van Dyke said.
As an indie author, Van Dyke said it can be difficult to get published. The distribution model of big publishers makes it hard for smaller voices to get in, he said.
Still Van Dyke has managed to get his books out there. He made a few mistakes along the way and learned a lot. Van Dyke said he’s willing to work with and give advice to anyone looking to publish, so they can avoid some of the mistakes he made.
His books are available at Chapter2Books.
“I’ve been glad that they’ve been so supportive,” he said.
While many authors are looking for ways to get their books out there, Van Dyke said it’s important to do something the local bookstores.
Signings and meetings allow him to focus not on making a sale, but making a fan.
More to come
Van Dyke has four other books in varying stages of completion.
His writing process starts with the characters.
“Fantasy is just a backdrop,” Van Dyke said. Without compelling characters, readers would not be drawn into the world.
He also works to define a good struggle that is believable, even in the fantasy drama, and then starts thinking about the big events and how to string them together. Even a small scene still has to move the story forward.
“Or it might as well be edited out,” he said.
He writes quicker now than he used to, he said, learning to take advantage of even 15 minute breaks at work to write.
“Sometimes you just have to get words down,” Van Dyke said. They don’t have to be perfect the first time, he added.
When he’s not writing, Van Dyke works as an MRI tech at Regions Hospital. He’s a father of two boys, and he puts a lot of focus on hobbies he can do with them. His sons are 9 and 11, and are getting to an age where they can start to enjoy his writing and the world he created.