Heartbeats and Dragon Curves: The Birth of a Story

Guest Post by Daryl Rothman, whose fantasy novel The Awakening of David Rose was published this Monday, September 9. Featured image by Tim Rebkavets on Unsplash

What do you think of first when you hear, Jurassic Park? Dinosaurs? Blockbuster? Spielberg? Crichton?

Most likely not Ekeland or Gleick. But Michael Crichton credits them in the acknowledgements of his novel, and Jeff Goldblum conferred with both in preparation for his role as resident “chaotician” in the film. Ekeland’s Mathematics and the Unexpected, and Gleick’s Chaos: A New Kind of Science, influenced Crichton so deeply that it may in fact be argued that it was chaos and fractals, which comprise the foundation of the iconic franchise. There’s a reason those iterations–a progression known as a Dragon Curve–adorn the start of each section of the novel. 

But it might also be safe to say that a purely scientific tome might not have had the teeth or achieved a fractal – err, fraction – of the popular acclaim as did the dino version. 

Sometimes – maybe most times – even a story with a strong message and theme needs, well, a good story, a hook, and some good ‘ol fun. And the reverse is most certainly true: no amount of bells and whistles can save a story if the heartbeat of the tale fails to ring true, or, worse yet, there is no heartbeat at all.

Around a decade ago I was leaving a Harry Potter movie with my eldest child, David, and savoring the wonder and awe Rowling’s stories (and subsequent films) imbued in children and adults alike. Soon thereafter an idea fell to me for a fantasy tale, brimming with notions of magic, immortality, and ancient feuds. I wrote a bit here, a bit there, then it would sit, and for a year or so it just never really took hold. It was around that time my family attended a child’s birthday party and a quiet incident transpired which embodied the bond and protection David had already demonstrated with his little sister, Rachel. Some of you know the story (retold in this guest post), but it was then and there that the embers for my novel reignited. The heartbeat of my tale. The impetus for the David Rose series, which in its progression through three books will see a steady surge in the fantastical, dark and magical elements. Even some heavy biblical turns. 

But no matter how deep the mystery, how ancient the conflict, no matter the incredible powers David discovers and must summon from lives and worlds past, it becomes more paramount each step of the way that he remain true to who he really is…no matter how many different hims there seem to be. Just as I learned I must remain true to the heartbeat of my story. It has been – and surely will be – a blast conjuring worlds and discovering them right along with my characters (for we must in the end follow their lead, not the other way around). But just as each of them ultimately needs that touchstone upon which to stay anchored, so too as a writer do I. That heartbeat, that thing in this world which means the world to me; my compass as my characters and I go gallivanting across time and space. 

Thanks, and as I like to say, Write On!

Who is Daryl Rothman?

From the time he was a young child, Daryl Rothman wanted three things: to be a father, a writer, and play baseball for his hometown Cardinals. Two of three ain’t bad (he will neither confirm nor deny still waiting by the phone for the third). Daryl’s YA/Fantasy novel, The Awakening of David Rose, is being released by Evolved Publishing, September 9th. First in a series of three, it was inspired by (and the protags named for) his children David and Rachel, and the protective relationship between them.  Daryl has written for a variety of esteemed publications, and recognitions include Flash Fiction winner for Cactus Moon Press, Flash Fiction second place winner for Amid the Imaginary, and Honorable Mention for Glimmer Train’s New Writer’s Short Story Award Contest.

When he’s writing, Daryl feels he is doing what he was meant to do, and recalls his earliest literary embers being kindled by his father reading Poe, O’Henry and others to him and his brother when they were young.

Daryl is working on Book II of the David Rose series, and also has written two literary suspense manuscripts. He lives in St. Louis with his wife Linda, and their three children.

Who is David Rose?

Immortality isn’t just about living forever; sometimes, it’s about forever refusing to let things die.

If David Rose could have one wish on his 15th birthday, it would be for things to go back to the way they were. Yet this week alone, he has suffered nightmares, been chased by bullies, and nearly drowned. Not to mention an encounter with a mythical creature he tells himself couldn’t possibly be real. Soon, he will stand with little sister Rachel before the grave of their mother, where he will pledge to learn the truth about what really happened that terrible evening a year previous.

Yet his quest for truth could awaken a sinister plot centuries in the making.

David must awaken in time—to the incredible truth, to his newfound powers, and to the realization that to protect his family and survive in the world he’s always known, he must come to grips with the dark secrets of a world he never knew existed.

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