About The Stratus Estate
The Stratus Estate is a character-driven, science fiction adventure that follows Phillip Stratus, a boy who lives in the very distant, utopian future. There's something different about Phillip. He lives with his large, quirky, adoptive family, all of whom are powerhouse players in the city where they live, the City of Tarkenwore. His best friend is Vive Tarkenwore - heir to the prodigious throne of Earth. Vive is the conceptual child of Queen Nacthelian and King Hasamelis, very tall supernatural beings who have ruled the planet for almost 2,000 years. Phillip and Vive have many unusual adventures together before they reach the age of 14. But all this isn't exactly what makes Phillip different from all other Terrans.
I began developing the world and the characters in The Stratus Estate when I was 20 and still in college. It began with imaginings of a utopian world I would want to live in - a place without many of the problems we face in this world. 6 years ago, I literally put pen to paper after I'd thought up a protagonist to act as a tour guide through the world I'd imagined. I never wrote an outline, and I didn't always know where Phillip's adventures would take him - and I still don't! I've started writing book 2 of what I hope to be a trilogy, and although I know how it all ends, everything that happens in the middle is still a mystery to me.
Phillip Stratus' story needs to be delivered to the world. His story isn't just a sci-fi adventure, but a literary journey of learning and discovery, with 24 original illustrations. The book is currently 103,800 words long, but that count may change a bit as I finish up my final round of editing in the next couple weeks.
Although not written in the style of young adult fiction, The Stratus Estate is appropriate for ages 13 and up. There's some violence and the reading level may be above younger readers.
For the Holidays
For local backers, I've been handing out these scrolls to give as gifts this holiday season. I'll send out an update closer to Christmas time with this image if you'd like to print it out and give your pledge as a gift.
An Excerpt From Erawan's Story
My little elephant character, Erawan (pictured below), has his own subplot, and within that subplot is a fable he tells to Vive and Phillip. I read this story at the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference a few years ago, and received a lot of praise from a scrutinizing audience. I hope you enjoy it.
'My favorite story, one of Anansi the Trickster Hero, told of the rescue of his herd after they were captured in the night. Anansi hadn’t been captured, so he went to the king of the lions to negotiate their release.
“Why should I agree to release your herd?” asked the lion king.
“Because you may have me as your captive instead,” said Anansi.
The king spoke with his advisors and thought he devised a very clever plan.
“I will make you a deal,” he said to Anansi. “If you may complete a task, you and your herd may both go free. But if you fail, I get to keep you and your herd.”
Anansi agreed to the king’s terms. His task was to beat the fastest lion in a race. When Anansi met this lion on the starting line, he knew his opponent was no lion, because the lions were not smart enough to outsmart Anansi. Although his spots were covered and he wore a mane of dried grass, Anansi recognized his opponent as Nyamekye, the fastest cheetah to have ever lived.
“Mighty Nyamekye,” began Anansi, “what is it the lions have promised you for besting me?”
“I know not what you speak of, elephant,” said Nyamekye. “I am a simple lion.”
“If they have offered you protection, I can better their offer,” said Anansi, but Nyamekye refused to answer. Then Anansi remembered the cheetah’s great love for jackalberry beer.
“If you let me win the race, you will have the protection of my people and as much jackalberry beer as you want for the rest of your life.” The cheetah fidgeted uncomfortably and then finally relented.
“You have a deal, Anansi,” he said. “The lions will want to crush my throat for crossing them, so you’d better make good your offer.”
The race began and Nyamekye sped ahead of Anansi as was to be expected. The cat continued to outrun Anansi, making him nervous, until Nyamekye suddenly stopped, howling with pain.
“There is a thorn in my foot!” he cried, and Anansi sped past him, crossing the finish line.
“Let my people go!” Anansi yelled to the king.
“But that was only the first task,” simpered the king, and Anansi knew he had been tricked, but he could do nothing while the lions held his herd captive.
The second task the lion king set to Anansi was to lift a very large boa constrictor above his head. But upon seeing the snake, Anansi knew it was no ordinary reptile. This was Agyei, the serpent who circles the world and grasps his own tail in his mouth. Anansi approached the serpent and tickled his belly until the giant snake squirmed about. Then Anansi kneeled and put his tusks under the thick trunk of the serpent and lifted with all his might. He strained and struggled against the massive weight, first getting his feet under him, and then finally standing tall with the enormous snake on his head. Anansi let the snake fall back to the earth with an enormous crash.
“Let my people go!” cried Anansi.
The king of the lions looked nervous now, but he said to Anansi, “That was only the second task,” and Anansi began to grow worried.
The third task was to blow a great war horn, but when Anansi beheld the horn, he knew it was no ordinary instrument. This was the dread Horn of Silence that would kill all before it when it sounded, but no one living or dead could coax the instrument to make even the slightest sound. Anansi approached the horn with trepidation. All the lions had convened now to watch Anansi attempt the third task. Anansi quickly turned to all the lions and blew the horn with all his might; it would not utter a sound, but Anansi emitted a trumpet from his trunk of such volume that it has never been bested. All the lions before him fell, fainting from fear and allowing Anansi and his herd to escape.'
About the Rewards
Firstly, I’m most excited that I’m actually going to be publishing the book I’ve been working on for six years. I’ve gone with the publisher Xlibris, which has good reviews in terms of book and printing quality. My novel will also be formatted for e-book sales and will be available through Amazon and other online retailers. I’m happy to bring the book to you with some unique features. I’ve carved my own bookplate (ex libris) that I’ll stamp on the inside cover of every book that’s pre-ordered here. I’m also offering signed copies, and a very limited number of hardcover copies with a hand drawing by me inside that will be a sneak peek of things to come in book 2.
I've also done some art pieces using my original illustrations from the book. Most of the illustrations were done in pencil first, and then I added digital elements. Some are purely digital. I'm having a very limited number of prints done just for this event, and they won't be available for re-print. The canvas prints I've had done are one-of-a-kind and will not be re-printed. I also hand-brushed them with a clear coat to protect them from dings and UV damage, and give a textured look.
Lastly, a couple lucky backers will receive their portrait or their pet's portrait, first done in pencil, and then printed in the style of the illustrations in the book. These backers will receive the original pencil sketch, and a 12" x 16" signed final print.
Risks and challenges
Although the novel is written and I'm all set up to self-publish, I still have the hard work of getting through the editing process and then making sure everything is formatted properly after it goes to the publisher. I could run into problems in the formatting and production phases. I've never published a book before, so I can only speculate what might go wrong, but this is my intellectual baby and I will bring into the world. I'll stay in touch with backers every step of the way.
My largest obstacle, and what has always been my most challenging obstacle, is my health. I have what it takes to get this book published intellectually, and I have the motivation. But I've been struggling with health problems for many years now. Although I believe I'll make a full recovery and eventually be healthier than I've ever been, I'm not there yet. I have set backs and bad days.
Whereas the goal of this project is to get The Stratus Estate out into the world, I'm not done writing Phillip's story. I have two more books to write, and their success hinges on the success of this first book. I don't want the next two books to take as long to write - hopefully book 2 will be ready in a year or two.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)