THE ORIGINS OF THE NORICIN CHRONICLES: Guest blog post by Mark Sheldon
Earlier this year, I began to publish my debut series as an author, The Noricin Chronicles. There are twelve books in the series; the first four of which are currently available and the fifth will be coming out in February of 2012. Until the end of this year, I am making available a special hardcover omnibus edition of the first four books in the series, and I will be donating 100% of my author’s royalties for this edition to Book Aid International, a literacy charity based in the United Kingdom.
The Noricin Chronicles is about the Norcinites, a secret race of super-humans who have been hiding in the shadows of society for nearly two hundred years. Almost all of the Norcinites are descended from Steven Noricin, founder of the Steven Noricin School for the New Race – commonly known as Snisnar. All young Norcinites are sent to this special school to learn how to hone and control their extraordinary powers.
The story begins with Dan Regal, an orphan who on his twelfth birthday accidentally sets the orphanage bully on fire – simply by imagining it happening. Shortly after the accident, he is visited by a mysterious, purple-eyed stranger by the name of Nevar Loeren. Mr. Loeren tells Dan about the Norcinites, and informs Dan that he is, in fact, one of them. Mr. Loeren says that he has come to invite Dan to attend Snisnar, and then he promptly disappears into thin air. But this is not the last that Dan will see of the enigmatic stranger, and he is about to embark upon a journey into a world full of wonders – and terrors – he never dreamed possible.
I can't really pinpoint the exact moment at which The Noricin Chronicles “popped” into my mind, because it was really about three separate ideas that had been festering in my imagination since as early as high school. Then, sometime in late 2005, all of these ideas just suddenly came together and clicked, and I realized that they were all part of the same story. I can’t really talk too much about two of these three ideas, as they would give away too much of the plot of the last few books, but the last idea was essentially a dark Harry Potter combined with the superheroes of The X-Men and the puzzles and riddles of The DaVinci Code.
Once the three ideas came together as one, it was pretty straightforward from there. It took me about two-to-three years to plot out the books. Probably the most extensive process of this early stage was creating the Noricin family tree. Because I knew that just about every character in my world was a direct descendant of Steven Noricin, I knew that I would have to plot out the family tree very extensively, so that I would know exactly how many Norcinites were in the world during Dan’s time, and therefore have a cast of players to work with. I spent about two weeks drafting out the massive family tree containing hundreds of names – starting out with Steven Norcin and his wife, Alice, and working down through almost two hundred years of family to Dan’s generation – and most of this work was done in the back office of the hotel where I was working with my now wife and co-conspirator in all things dastardly, Betsy.
One large complication in the creation of the Noricin Family Tree was caused by the fact that there are several Norcinites who are “blood purists” and obsessed with maintaining the Noricin genes by only marrying other Norcinites. Since most Norcinites are direct descendants of Steven Noricin, this meant that a lot of people married their cousins. To help myself keep these “special” familial lines straight from the non-blood-purists, I started using an orange marker to draw these specific family lines.
An amusing side effect of this technique came when I found that the orange marker had been bleeding through the paper onto my supervisor’s desk. When approached about this, Betsy and I (we were not yet dating at the time) informed our boss that I had been inbreeding on her desk and that I’d accidentally left some stains behind. That is where I learned the valuable lesson that if you can make someone laugh, you can be forgiven for just about anything.
But I digress – after I had finished creating the resource of the Noricin Family Tree, I spent about two years plotting out the books, another year to sit down and actually write them all, and another year editing and preparing for the publication of Book 1, The Lost Boy, on January 11, 2011. The rest of the year has pretty much been a blur, as I published one book every other month between January and June and spent the rest of the time editing the upcoming books and promoting the series.
There are, of course, many underlying themes and meanings throughout The Noricin Chronicles, some obvious and some not so obvious, but if I had to pick one, specific message as the central theme of the series and my writing in general, it would have to be tolerance. I am a big advocate of accepting other people’s beliefs, opinions, and outlooks, regardless of whether I personally agree with them or not. Just about the only thing I cannot bring myself to tolerate is intolerance, which of course makes me the biggest hypocrite of them all.
This desire to promote tolerance and fight ignorance is part of what drew me to Book Aid International, for their charity is primarily focused on supporting literacy, education, and development in sub-Saharan Africa. In the last year alone, they have provided over 500,000 new books to over 2,000 libraries.
My fundraiser for Book Aid will be running until December 31st, 2011. In order to keep production costs down and keep the list price reasonable, I was unfortunately only able to make this special hardcover edition available through Lulu. However, if the fundraiser proves to be profitable, I may decide in the future to release a paperback version of the omnibus edition, and continue to donate a portion of those royalties to Book Aid.
It has been a wild ride, these last six years, and it’s only just beginning! I can say beyond a doubt that there will be more from me to come in the future, and that hopefully I’ll be able to continue helping Book Aid, and other literacy charities as I proceed!
For more information about myself, The Noricin Chronicles, and my fundraiser for Book Aid, please feel free to visit my homepage.
BIO: The Noricin Chronicles marks author Mark Sheldon's debut as an author. Mr. Sheldon lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, Betsy.