As part of our ongoing effort here at Zelda Informer to connect more strongly with out fanbase and the amazing musicians, artists, authors, and the like within, we are beginning a brand new feature: Kickstarter Corner. These articles, exclusive to our site, will feature interviews with folks behind intriguing kickstarter campaigns with connections to The Legend of Zelda. We hope this will create a new avenue for talented and passionate individuals to explain their projects to fans clearly and garner support for their campaigns. If you know of an interesting Kickstarter that may fit the bill, please send the author of this article a private message. You’re support is greatly appreciated.
Kicking off this endeavor is an interview with an indie author by the name of J Washburn. Author of critically acclaimed novel ECKSDOT, J is now in the process of publishing a fantasy novel with inspirations in the the Zelda series. His project has already passed its funding goal, but there are plenty of stretch goals to reach, great backer rewards, and a few weeks left to place support. J was kind enough to chat with me about his work and his upcoming work, Song of Locke:
Q: Could you introduce yourself to our fans who might not be familiar with you and your work?
A: My name is J Washburn (yes, just J). I’ve been a full-time author for over two years. SONG OF LOCKE is my second novel and fourth book. I’m an indie author (which is a bit like being in an indie band—no label or publisher, but tons of groupies) and I write adventure stories.
Q: Have you been indie the whole time you’ve been an author? Or was there a point at which you decided to make the change?
A: I have been an indie author from day one.
As I began my author journey, I researched the publishing industry and I came to realize that traditional publishing is very difficult. Then I discovered that ebooks and print-on-demand make it possible to be successful as an indie—but that was difficult too, because you have to rely on your fans (rather than the deep pockets of a giant corporation, that is). Since both options were hard, I chose the more creative one.
I love all aspects of art, and I wanted the independence that comes with being an indie. So, instead of handing my completed stories to an editorial board, I’m involved in the whole process myself—the writing, editing, typography, design, and publicizing. And I love it. I created the covers for all my previous books, and I designed the title typography for SONG OF LOCKE.
Q: That most certainly entails a lot of dedication on your part, not to mention faith in your fans. Is that why you’ve turned to Kickstarter for this upcoming novel?
A: To be brutally honest with you, I don’t have a huge fan base yet. I hoped Kickstarter would be a way to reach more readers—readers who love the same types of stories as me. And crowd funding is the perfect alternative to big money from giant publishing companies. But it takes quite a bit of work to set up a decent Kickstarter, so it was sort of a gamble—or an experiment at least. I didn’t know what to expect. But so far it’s going really well. A lot of people have re-shared the story and the link to the Kickstarter campaign. I’ve been surprised (and pleased) by how excited people get too. So many people want more of this—more legends and adventure stories. I love it.
Q: Do you think many of these potential fans are Legend of Zelda fans as well?
A: Yes, definitely.
I’ve been a Zelda fan since I watched my neighbor playing the original Legend of Zelda back in 1989. Exploring dungeons, finding magical items, and using a sword to rescue a princess—these ideas really lit up my imagination. I’ve been a fan of the series ever since, and it had a big influence on SONG OF LOCKE.
Since backers haven’t read it yet, they just have to take my word for it, but many things in the book correlate directly with ideas from the Zelda games. And Darko, the cover illustrator, took inspiration from Link’s design as well, so some people see the cover and think of Legend of Zelda. And, no doubt, there’s plenty in the book for a Zelda fan to love.
Having said that, SONG OF LOCKE isn’t a Zelda game. Nor was Zelda the only source of inspiration. The hero’s name is Locke, not Link, and the book has fewer puzzles and more character development (ha ha). But just as each game reinvents the legend in its own way, SONG OF LOCKE takes some of the same fantastic elements and creates a new story with familiar themes.
Q: Is there any game in particular in the Legend of Zelda series you’d compare it to most closely? Perhaps a favorite title? Or is it more about the concepts that remain constant throughout the series?
A: OCARINA OF TIME is my favorite, and it’s also the first one I played. So most of the Zelda inspiration comes from that. But there’s a lot of overlap in the games too, as you suggested. So, for example, in the first chapter of SONG OF LOCKE (which I’ll send to backers soon) the hero wakes up to the sound of his name being called—his call to adventure. That’s a small tribute to several Zelda games.
Also, the story is narrated by Picke, who’s a musical spirit of the air. Picke has strong similarities to Navi from OoT, but with much more personality. His name is a mixture of the word “pixie” and the name “Puck” (from Shakespeare’s ” A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the cartoon Gargoyles series).
There’s also a magical sword, blue fire with mystical properties, musical themes that play an important role, and a princess who captures the hero’s heart.
Q: Definitely plenty for Zelda fans to grab onto – except perhaps for the romance! We don’t get too much of that with Link, except perhaps in Skyward Sword, which had a greater narrative than most in the series. As a storyteller, what would you change in how The Legend of Zelda tells/executes it’s story?
A: Whoa. That’s a good question. And I’m so torn!
If I were to write the story for a future Zelda installment (man, that would be a dream job!), I’d put a higher emphasis on character development. I might even suggest they give Link some dialog and a voice actor! (Crazy, I know.) I’d push for something daring and a little deviant from its predecessors. But, as you suggested, I think the series is already trending that direction, getting deeper and richer as it matures.
And that’s why I’m torn. Link’s lack of personality fits well with the videogame medium—he matches whatever Player One decides to pick up the controller. In some ways, Link is cooler because he’s a generic, everyman hero. There’s magic in that simplicity. It’s the quest story stripped down to the bare bones—just the fundamentals—and that makes it really pure. It’s hard to argue against that. So part of me wants to just leave Link alone.
I guess that shows the difference between a game and a book. While they certainly overlap in ways, each medium has unique strengths—perhaps complementary strengths. And I’m glad we have both.
Q: And how do you want Zelda veterans to feel when they read SONG OF LOCKE?
A: I hope they’ll smile at times about the similarities to a franchise they l
ove. But I also hope they’ll be excited to have discovered a new, rich world, full of lovable characters and unforgettable moments.
Q: I’m sure many will. Anything else you’d like to say to the fans here at ZI?
A: First, I want to thank you, Jeff. This has really been a lot of fun for me.
I also want to say thanks to you ZeldaInformer readers. I’ve already gotten a lot of support from you (quite a few backers joined as soon as the last ZI post went live). You guys are awesome, and your backing means so much to me. This is a quest I can’t complete alone, and I’m glad to have you along!
If you’re considering backing SONG OF LOCKE, check out the official kickstarter page. I’m eager to have your help in shaping the final story.
And if you’d rather buy it after it’s published, send me your email here and I’ll tell you when it launches.
Thanks again. You guys are awesome!
And we’d like to thank J for taking the time to talk to us. Let us know what you think of this project – or his previous work if you’re familiar with it – and whether or not you’re planning to pledge your support; I already have. If you’d like to take a quick look at the reward tiers, check them out in the gallery below (you’ll need to open it in a new tab and zoom in some), along with a wallpaper for Song of Locke.