Local Author Releases Dark Fantasy Debut Novel
Story by Michael Seguin
Photography by John Liviero
As with many storytellers, local author Joe Ponic struggles when it comes to sharing his own tale.
But fortunately for us, he makes do.
Joe is a Human Resource Administrator with the Windsor regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces. And now, after years of hard work, he has joined our rich community of local authors having published Swords and Boards In The Misadventures Of Stonewall this June.
And when it comes to his own storytelling aspirations, Joe credits two sources: his father and other fantasy novels.
“My Dad, who passed away a couple of years ago, was the inspiration for my work,” Joe explains. “He could really tell a good tale. He was really good at embellishing, at hooking whatever audience he was facing. And that always inspired me to be creative.”
Joe Ponic also was motivated to tell his own story by several other novels.
“When it comes to the fantasy genre, nothing inspired me more than the Dragonlance series,” Joe states. “I still reread them to this day. The whole universe was based of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. And the story was so good that they ended up folding it into the world. They helped me develop my own novel.”
Swords and Boards In The Misadventures Of Stonewall tells the story of five semi-retired veteran’s of the Dark Lord’s army. After retiring from the tyrant’s army, they decide to set work as adventures. But when one of their close friends disappears, they ride off into the dead of night to find him.
But this will be no easy feat. The world around them is fractured, stuffed to bursting with warlords, strange monsters and other dangerous adventurers.
The search for their missing friend eventually leads them into the wilderness, where they stumble across a mysterious ruin.
“Will they be able to save their friend and restore order to this troubled land?” the book trailer on YouTube asks.
“The five anti-heroes end up creating this search party in this dangerous town called Stonewall,” Joe explains. “The book has a little bit of everything. The tone is very grungy and there’s a lot of hidden dry humour. The book has a lot of action but I wouldn’t call it excessively gory.”
The novel took two years for Joe to write.
“I struggled with the process a bit at first,” Joe admits. “But as with everything, you gain confidence as you go. It’s an interesting experience. Every time you edit your book, you want to make it better. And you want to make it better. And you want to make it better. And you want to make it better. And before you know it, two years have gone by!”
Joe found the nonlinear process of crafting a world rewarding. Particularly how writing was never “start to finish.”
“When I’m reading, I like picturing myself in the book,” Joe explains. “I don’t like to just stare at the words on the page. I like to visualize myself acting out the roles. And when you’re writing, you can always think of something later. On another draft you can change a line or add a whole different scene. You can change the whole environment of the story.”
Joe approached the craft of writing as just that: a craft. Every day he’d wake up, go to work, come home, and then, without fail, retire to his office and set to work. “I was always a night writer,” Joe states. “I still have my full-time job. So after work I’d come home, eat supper, work on the book for three-to-four hours, then go to bed. Rinse, repeat.”
And there are as many types of writers out there as there are writers. Some write in the mornings, some in the evenings. Some on a screen, some on paper. And some like to feel out the story as they go, allowing the characters to guide them from scene to scene, while still others create a comprehensive plot outline before ever even thinking of typing the words “Chapter One.”
These authors are typically referred to as pansters and plotters. Or gardeners and architects.
And while each approach has its merits, Joe is firmly a plotter. He credits his outline with helping him through the harder parts of the drafting process.
“I felt the book was working fairly early on,” Joe recalls. “What helped was that I took the time to write an outline. I wrote down a list of what needed to be in each chapter. And once my page count and my outline started growing, I knew I had something.”
Joe also credits his family and friends with helping him finish the book. Although, he admits that he wasn’t completely forthcoming with the project.
“I didn’t want everyone bothering me about when it was finished, so I didn’t tell them I was writing a book,” Joe laughs. “I didn’t want to hear, ‘Is it done yet? Is it done yet?”
The book was released earlier this year, in June. And thus far, feedback has been largely positive.
“A great read, I’d recommend it to anyone,” Robert on Amazon writes.
“People love the artwork,” Joe states. “They’re intrigued by the characters and the storyline. The comments people have been leaving have really meant a lot to me.”
That said, the positive feedback is not doing much to slow Joe down. Much like the semi-retired soldiers of the Dark Lord’s army he writes about, instead of relaxing he’s setting out on a bold new adventure.
“I wrote the book with room for a sequel, so that I can make it a trilogy,” Joe states. “And hopefully it doesn’t take me two years to write!”
Swords and Boards In The Misadventures Of Stonewall is available on online. As well, copies are available at Storytellers Bookstore on Ottawa Street.