My Chaos Gate sprang from my admiration of both C.S. Lewis’s Narnia stories and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It was published in 2011 by Yorkshire Press and I’d like to reimind everybody that it is still available on Amazon. To that end, I’ve offered its first chapter as a self-contained short story in hopes that students might like it and wish to get the book. This chapter may be used either as a unit for the whole class or as a sponge activity. The materials include comprehension questions, writing prompts and the entire text of the first chapter. Do check it out!
Tag Archives: Chaos Gate
Friend Martin Doolan got a chance to read Chaos Gate for the first time recently. He had this to say:
“It took me a little while to get into it at the start, when I couldn’t see why the events were happening and why I should get involved, but the short, speedy sentences and original turns of phrase and vivid mini-descriptions kept me going.
Then I realized that I just had to hang in and follow the tale, an adventure game where the characters discover a maze and hidden doors and perhaps something beyond the doors. And suddenly the chase was on, first by guards and then by Sweetums, a terrifying character with its purposeful, powerful, dogged, unstoppable drive to kill our heroes.
Then the tale speeds up further, with imaginative and surprising twists and turns coming at increasing speed. As reader, I was now on a roller-coaster. And the ending (before the epilogue to quieten the spirits) is no let-down but an exciting just-in-time culmination.
I thoroughly enjoyed Chaos Gate. I know the genre, but this was a gripping version with, of course, your skill with short, precise ‘action’ sentences (no fat on them to slow them down) and succinct ‘descriptive’ sentences to help us visualize the scene.
I guess it was as much fun for you writing it as it was for me reading it. Some of the adrenalin you must have experienced when coming up with your creative imaginings cross the page to enter the reader’s world and provide an engrossing, entertaining read.”
All of you who don’t know my book, please take note! It’s still available on Amazon!
John’s sixth grade class read “Chaos Gate” as their ending work of literature. They invited me to come and read a few chapters aloud on May 31st and June 1st. I did so and had a great time, even though it was a little scary. Nothing can make you nervous like reading your own words to smart sixth graders. It turns out I didn’t do such a bad job of writing, after all. They liked it!
A good story offers readers the chance to test their minds and courage against the story’s problems. They won’t accept the offer, however, if they aren’t inclined to join the story’s family of characters. I tried my best to achieve both a good story and a good family of characters in Chaos Gate.
I’ll tell you a secret here. I wasn’t really in control of the characters in Chaos Gate. Once I get a story underway, the characters begin talking to me. I can’t force dialog upon them. A book then becomes something of a collaborative effort between me and the folks I’ve created. They take on personalities of their own and often won’t do what they’re told. When this happened while I was writing Chaos Gate, I knew that I was making a good, honest effort. I hope you’ll agree.
I wrote The Dragon and the Lemon Tree almost thirty years ago. I intended it as something of a diversion for our eldest son while Phyllis was pregnant with our youngest son. One of that book’s characters, Mere Rowan, remained in my mind. I knew that she wasn’t done speaking and acting, so I began a more ambitious project with her at its center: Chaos Gate. Reading The Dragon and the Lemon Tree is not at all necessary to completely enjoy Chaos Gate. Both books are entirely self-contained. I just wanted to let you know that Mere Rowan was around earlier and reassure you that that doesn’t matter at all. I just like the lady and she’ll be back in future stories.
Reading the Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis was pivotal to me. I was amazed by how much fun the fantasy settings allowed. I still treasure Lucy’s first visit to the snowy woods and her meeting with Mr. Tumnus. I’ve tried to let my fantasy settings generate adventures, lots of them, for my characters. I’ve also tried not to be quite as loose with story logic as Professor Lewis was, but you can be the judge of that.
One final shared secret: all of the scenery I’ve described is quite real. I’ve walked around this world of ours quite a bit. I discovered early on that my imagination doesn’t come close to the amazing beauties waiting outside our doors.