Shadow Over Shandahar started out as an AD&D campaign back in back in 1999. Mark was the DM (dungeon master) and I was just one of the players in a group where me and one other girl were the only female players. The rest were some mutual friends. After the first day of the campaign I discovered myself avidly interested in the potential of the unfolding plot that Mark had begun to map out. So, I began to write the events down, in story form of course, focusing on my own two characters in the campaign, Adrianna and Sheridana.
As the campaign progressed, the plot became something that I couldn't quite believe. It was fascinating and mysterious, full of hidden surprises. Mark and I began to discuss the winding path that the plot was taking, and I began to offer some of my own ideas. Mark seemed to like some of them, and incorporated them into the campaign. All of the players seemed to be having a really good time, and my 'book' was coming along nicely.
However, as with any AD&D campaign, there were a few holes. DM's don't have the time to iron out everything before they turn it into the next plot to take place in an ongoing campaign. Sometimes things just happen too fast, and some improvising must take place. As the holes appeared, I began to make modifications to my fledgling manuscript, small explanations that began to fall outside the realm of AD&D.
Try as I might, as the months wore on, I couldn't keep my manuscript up with the campaign. However, I wrote detailed notes. By the time the campaign ended, I had half of a book and the rest a skeleton from which I could fill in the rest. A few months later, the group decided to start up another campaign, and I was to be the dungeon master. I got pregnant with my first child, and the manuscript went to the back burner.
Many more months passed. The second campaign ended and I gave birth to my daughter. I never forgot my manuscript, and it beckoned to me from that back burner. I read over what I had written before, but found that much of it had to be re-written. It was too inconsistent, and the characters needed to be 'fleshed out' more deeply. Some of the situations had been taken from popular movies, and it was altogether too dungeons and dragonish.
So my renovations began. Once they were completed, I began to work on some parts of the story that had heretofore only been a skeleton. I gave the characters more dimension, and I made their relationships more realistic. As Mark would put it, he and the campaign created the characters, but it was I who gave them a heartbeat. It was I who gave them a soul.
I got pregnant with my second child. The pregnancy was harder than the first. I was working full time outside of the home again. Once again the book took the back burner. Many more months passed and I gave birth to my oldest son. This time I found it more difficult to revisit the book . . . my new life as a mother had begun to take over the life I had led before children and other 'grown-up' responsibilities. But still the manuscript called out to me, and I could not resist the temptation to work on it once again.
Once again I sat down to re-read what had been written before. And once again, I found numerous inconsistencies, things about the plot that didn't 'flow' the way they should, and things that were mentioned that would get me in big trouble if I were to have the book published. Trouble from TSR, that is. I had too many concepts from their world. It was then that I knew I had to make this world my own, with its own mountains, rivers, and towns. I had to change the face of the world and give it a new name.
A few days later, Shandahar was born, and the manuscript went through yet another overhaul. It was then that I began to get a glimpse of how long my story was going to be. But I didn't let it derail me. I worked consistently on the manuscript, adding new scenes and deleting old ones that just didn't seem to 'fit in' anymore. Mark helped out a lot, giving me good ideas for new scenes that I could incorporate. I got pregnant with my third child, but my condition couldn't tear me away from my work until I was almost eight months along.
After the birth of my second son it did not take me long to get back to my manuscript. When I re-read many of the chapters, I saw that most of them no longer needed to be reworked. My skills as a writer had improved so much over the months . . . and at that time it was the year 2004. Wow, almost six yeas had passed since this had all started!
I sat down to work, and I once again noticed that the book was getting to be 'too big'. I had to separate the manuscript into parts to be stored onto disc. I knew that it was time for a zip drive, or maybe I needed to jut buckle up and buy a cd rom. But then again, I realized that I just might have to cut the book in half, create a duology instead of just one big novel. Once I made that decision, and I broke up my manuscript into the designated parts, I realized that the first half was nearly to completion. Excitement stole through me . . . I needed to find a publisher!
Once finding Booksurge, I had renewed motivation to finish my book. I got pregnant with my fourth child, but once again, just like with the third, I was not deterred. I found someone to make me a cover for the book, and I worked on the manuscript every day, until finally it was ready. Shadow Over Shandahar was ready to go into print.
The day that I held my book in my hands was one of the best days of my life. It was May 2005. The book had taken almost seven years in the making. Shadow Over Shandahar had come all the way from an AD&D campaign to a unique, all-new fantasy/adventure novel. Mark and I hope that our readers will enjoy reading it just as much as we enjoyed creating it.
~ Tracy Chowdhury