St. John’s University Assistant Professor of English Dr. Gregory Wilson is about to release his first novel, the epic fantasy The Third Sign.
The novel got its start in 1996 after Wilson had received his master’s degree. He said that he had grown sick of academic writing and wanted to do something creative. However, after writing one chapter, he put it aside.
Shortly after earning his doctorate in 2002, Wilson once again became tired of academic writing and started reworking the chapters he had written six years before. Two years later, he finished it.
Wilson said that in between writing those first chapters and completing the book, a great deal changed, including the overall idea for the fantasy world and the plot structure.
From the time the book was completed until about 2008, Wilson worked to send out query letters, find an agent and get the book published. The Third Sign will be out on June 17.
The fantasy book is set in a country call Klune that gained freedom 10 years before because of “a small group of heroes known as the Covenant.” After the Covenant is no longer together, a treaty between a human king and race of people known as the arlics keeps the country safe, although the treaty will soon expire.
Negotiations start, but eventually both sides form armies and “the appearance of the horrifying Soul Wall and other omens point to the fulfillment of the Prophecy of Return, in which it is said that three signs will signal the return of great evil. The first two signs have come to pass, but the prophecy is obscure on its final prediction…”
Writing a novel is something that Wilson, who has authored academic books, said he has always wanted to do. He had also written plays and short stories in the past.
Wilson fell in love with the fantasy genre as a child, and said that The Third Sign is a tribute to authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert Jordan.
When it comes to writing fantasy, Wilson said that it can be a difficult genre since the author is developing everything “completely from scratch, to a degree.” However, he said that the benefit is that he is not constrained by rules that would exist in a real world setting.
“In the one hand it’s difficult. On the other hand it frees me a little bit because I don’t have to worry about realism,” Wilson said. “I have to make it internally consistent.”
Wilson also said that previous works of fiction have created a foundation to work with, noting that “everyone writes, to a degree, based upon the books that came before them.”
“I like having the ability to borrow some, make some, sort of change the rules as I wish and have me be the one calling the shots,” said Wilson, who has already finished a second novel and is working on a third.
Wilson has taught at St. John’s for six years. One of his classes is called Fantasy in Fiction. He said that his students do know he has a book coming out, and that his experience in the publishing process has helped him give more insight to his students, particularly the ones in his creative writing class.
“I now have that [real world publishing experience],” he said. “I’m able to bring that to them.”
For more information on The Third Sign and Wilson’s other works, visit www.gregoryawilson.com.