P.L. Stuart’s Debut Novel Hits Shelves
Story by Michael Seguin
Photography by Maggie Clarke
IMAGINE THIS: You just had an epic falling out with your father and older brother. You are cast into exile, alongside a band of loyal followers. Then, as your galley glides across the Shimmering Sea, you turn and watch as your island kingdom sinks beneath the waves.
Now, you’ll have to guide your followers into forsaken lands, teeming with warlords, mages and pagan worshippers.
Sound like a tall order? Well, tell that to Prince Othrun, the protagonist of P.L Stuart’s debut fantasy epic, A Drowned Kingdom.
“When one kingdom drowns, a new one must rise in its place,” Stuart writes. “So begins the saga of that kingdom, and the man who would rule it all.”
Stuart is a resident of Chatham. After obtaining a degree in English Literature from York University—with a specialization in Medieval Literature—he went on to work in Law Enforcement. He currently works in Windsor.
“I love my job,” Stuart states. “I work with some fantastic, highly-trained people. The job is challenging. It’s a very difficult environment. And it’s an honour to serve Canada and I love working in Windsor.”
However, for 30 years, Stuart always nursed a secret passion: the written word.
“My law enforcement career has definitely shaped my writing,” Stuart admits. “It’s given me a lot of unique perspectives from which to draw on.”
Stuart wrote sporadically for decades, publishing the occasional article in work newsletters and volunteer magazines. In high school, he interned at a local paper, The Scarborough Mirror. The publisher was so impressed by his talents that they offered him a full-time job!
“It was very valuable for me, as a teenager, to get a glimpse into the publishing world,” Stuart states. “At one point, I considered becoming a journalist. I even enrolled at Carleton University to join their journalism program. But life decided to take a different path.”
And now, over 30 years later, those two paths seem to have intersected.
“Way back in high school, I dabbled with the idea of penning a fantasy novel,” Stuart explains. “But nothing ever came to fruition. My energies were focused in different directions. But now, in my fifties, as my children are either going off to university or already adults in the work force, I was able to galvanize myself.”
A Drowned Kingdom tells the story of Prince Othrun, the Second Prince of the mightiest kingdom ever seen. After a brief civil war, Othrun now leads the last survivors of his exiled people across the Shimmering Sea to colonize new lands. Now, with a troubled past, a cursed sword and a mysterious spirit guiding him, Othrun must carve out a new kingdom on a strange war-torn continent.
“Prince Othrun’s realm was peerless,” Stuart states. “It was the centre of the known world for culture, literature, military sophistication, etc. Now Othrun brings the last of his people across the sea to a different land, plagued by marauders and magicians. He has to survive, forge alliances and achieve some sort of glory for his people.”
As with many fantasy authors, Stuart drew on myths for inspiration.
“It’s my version of the Atlantis myth,” Stuart admits. “I think that appealed to me so much because Atlantis has become the model for the ultimate Utopian society. It was this glorious empire. It’s people were exceedingly blessed. It was a seemingly perfect society. And then suddenly, either through hubris or the gods, or both, they got wiped out. People are obsessed with finding Atlantis. It’s just fascinating!”
Stuart chose fantasy because of how the trappings of the genre allow an author to touch on challenging subject matter.
“I love fantasy for the pure escapism,” Stuart admits. “And the genre gives me the opportunity to explore difficult, complex themes in an imaginary world that you can immerse yourself in. Fantasy allows for messages to be a bit less obtrusive, subtler.”
After completing his manuscript, Stuart made the decision to self-publish with FriesenPress, a publishing assist company based out of Victoria, British Columbia.
“They were a great help,” Stuart explains. “They’re the Cadillac or Mercedes of Canadian self-publishing assistance. And they have their own bookstore where they sell their authors’ books. A Drowned Kingdom shot to the top of their charts for two weeks running! Proud moment becoming a bestselling author!”
Stuart credits his wife Debbie for her help on their “authorpreneurial” venture.
“Debbie does the hard part, which is predominantly the marketing,” Stuart states. “She’s the brains behind the operation. My job is to write some quality books. Which is the easy part!”
So far, A Drowned Kingdom has been selling exceptionally well.
“The average self-published book sells between 250-300 copies in its lifetime,” Stuart explains. “The average traditionally published book sells 3000 copies. In less than two months, we’ve exceeded 250 copies. The support of readers has been amazing! I even had work colleagues and friends from high school reach out to me about getting a copy! Debbie did a fantastic job getting word about book out there.”
Stuart describes all the success as a surreal experience.
“My book is out in the wild!” Stuart states. “I log into Twitter and I can see a photo of someone reading my book in England or Australia or Africa or India. And right now, they’re sitting there, in a different time zone, reading my book. It’s surreal! I’m very humbled to know that someone is out there reading what I wrote down.”
Despite this initial success, Stuart is not content to sit on his laurels. He continues to have big plans for Prince Othrun.
“You’re only as good as what you’re currently selling!” Stuart states. “So, we have to keep the momentum going. My author journey is only just beginning!”
A Drowned Kingdom is currently available on Amazon, Chapters Indigo and the FriesenPress website.
More information about PL Stuart and his series: The Drowned Kingdom Saga can be found at: plstuart.com.