(Contributed by James Batchelor)
Jared is my brother. He is three years my senior and the only one in my family that shares my passion for writing. He is the one sibling with whom I could commiserate over the frustration, discouragement and eventual triumph of a project. There are others, of course, who are always willing to listen to my complaints and frustrations, but Jared truly understood. I never realized quite how lucky I was to have that until it was gone. He died a few years ago.
Since childhood, Jared’s fondest dream was to write novels. Unfortunately, like too many aspiring writers, he wrote a thousand stories that would never see the light of day because he gave up on them before they had a chance to develop into anything at all. He did, however, write one “complete” rough draft over the course of several years. We (his family and friends) had all heard about, but had never seen it. It was only after his death that the manuscript surfaced.
I became custodian of his records which consisted of a few journals, some hand written story scraps, a mountain of pictures of his three children, and an old hard drive. It was here that I eventually discovered his mysterious manuscript entitled, Hall of Mages, in a hidden file buried deep on the drive. Even before reading the first page, I knew I wanted to edit and release it under his name, and donate the proceeds to his children. I loved the idea of being able to do something for my brother in death that he had not been able to do in life, and I know he would love the idea of his children benefiting materially from something that he created.
Unfortunately, as I began reading the draft of Hall of Mages, I quickly realized two things: the first was that this was not a complete manuscript. There was no ending to the story. The manuscript just petered off into some vague notes about where he wanted the story to go. To make matters worse, he had written several iterations of many of the scenes with different outcomes to each. With no ending written, there was no clear indication as to which of the versions would logically make sense in the story. The second thing I realized is that his writing style and mine were essentially incompatible. Had it needed just a basic editing job as I had originally hoped, this probably would not have been such a problem, but because so many of the scenes were going to need to be completely rewritten and many new scenes added, there was no way it was going to flow smoothly if I attempted to just insert my additions into the story.
Nevertheless, there was a lot to work with. Jared had a vivid imagination. He had a talent for creating wonderfully imaginative characters, a unique magic system, and a world that gave me a great framework in which to work. I did manage to preserve more or less his exact verbiage in several places throughout the story, and more importantly, the world, characters, and essential storyline are all his. I could not have created this world as he did, so this story truly was co-authored by him.
Re-writing the Hall of Mages has been a rewarding experience. I have felt close to my brother again while working on his book. Reading his writing and working so many hours in his world and with the characters that he created, I have found myself on more than one occasion thinking, “Oh, I need to ask Jared about this,” Or, “I should tell him that,” just as if he were still here and we were actively collaberating on this project. These are only fleeting moments, but I value them all the same.
I think Jared would be happy with the product we are turning out, and I hope you will enjoy it as well.