Daniel Aegan lives in New Haven, CT with his family and doggies. He started writing at a young age and gave it up, only to start again fifteen years later. Comedy, horror, and dark fantasy are just some of his preferred genres, and he’s not opposed to mixing or mashing them. Other than writing, Daniel enjoys reading tarot for himself or his friends. He’s a supporter of the indie writing community of which he’s a part as well as all LGBTQ+ people and authors.
Daniel’s published works include Blood Drive, Lost Women of the Admiral Inn, and Kai the Swordsman: The Imprisoned King. There are more books on their way as the pile of drafts gets sorted and whittled. While not writing or drafting, you can often find Daniel Aegan embarrassing himself in public.
It’s a fairy tale etched in blood; a pitch black fantasy. The secrets of one man’s past reverberate in the present, and those secrets have the power to topple a complacent empire.
The village of Umi no Mura knows nothing but peace. They’re far from the capitol of the empire, far from crime and poverty. They fend for themselves, fishing and farming for what they need. They have only one protector: an exiled swordsman named Kai.
Kai has a past he cannot escape. His dreams are haunted by blood and demons, and his waking world is haunted by the sins he committed in the name of his Emperor. Umi no Mura has its secrets, and Kai can’t help but feel they’re somehow tied to his checkered past.
Deep in the heart of the empire sits Emperor Aki-Jin, who is more obsessed with immortality than he is with his people. He was once a friend of Kai in his childhood, but that friendship led them down a path that ended in blood and wrath. He kept his old friend alive, making his sword grow rusty as the protector of a village that needs no protecting.
The atrocities of Emperor Aki-Jin reflect in the waves of the ocean. The swordsman Kai who would die to protect has an impossible choice ahead of him as Umi no Mura faces the harshest of days. Does Kai turn to Aki-Jin and doom them to another threat, or does he rescue them and make them enemies of their own emperor? What clues in Kai’s past can help him in his present dilemma? What chaos will be inflicted if past and present enemies collide with a lone swordsman in the middle of it all?
Kai the Swordsman: The Imprisoned King is Daniel Aegan’s third book and his first foray into creating a world of dark fantasy. Follow him into the Empire of Hojite, a land ruled by magic and dark forces; a place where swordsman and shinobi fight in the forest; a realm where one man’s sacrifice and toil can save the lives of all.
Writing Under the Influence of Myself
By Daniel Aegan
I find one of the hardest things about writing is coming up with a compelling opening line for a blog piece. I once belted out the first draft of a 90,000-word novel in a month and a half, but I still have trouble opening what should be a simple piece about writing and what it means to be an author. It’s one of those things. Even after spending months typing, revising, and editing tens of thousands of words, I’ll sit in front of my screen and stress over the first line of the blurb for that book. But I digress…
I want to say something like “writing is cathartic”, but I’ll spare you that particular cliché. I love writing. I have since the moment I decided to start this long journey at the young age of thirty-three. I have always had a love for stories. I had created them all the time without realizing what I was doing. I can bullshit with the best of them. It comes second nature when you grow up around New Haven Italians. One of my favorite pastimes is making up a story just to see how much a person would believe until they finally get fed up and call me out on said bullshit. I’m great at it too.
Everyone starts writing for a reason. Some people find a natural affinity toward it. They’re drawn to the blank page, using it as a canvas, using words as their paint. I can attest that the blank page can be intimidating at times. It can also be beautiful, though. There are infinite ways you can remix the dictionary and twist punctuation to make it your story. No one can mimic the combinations of letters and characters the same way twice. A blank page is just a means on which to spill your unique ink. There is nothing generic about the words you painstakingly place and contort on your paper.
We, as writers, are influenced, however. Everything we read, every piece of media we consume, every little conversation we have with one another, ends up on the page. Not directly, of course. It becomes imbedded in our minds, and it serves to become fodder for our creations. I have heard other writers say, “In order to be a great writer, you need to be a great reader.”
That’s true. It goes back to the consumption of information. Our minds aren’t sponges as an old teacher in high school used to remind us on a constant basis. They’re hungry, hungry mouths. If you don’t feed your Muse, it’ll go hungry, and a sad Muse isn’t one that wants to pump your mind full of wonderful and amazing ideas.
I feed my Muse often. I take the time to read every day. I switch up genres too. I can pump my mind full of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, whatever. It helps my mind to remain fresh and keep from getting bored or stagnant. I’m a student of the sitcoms of the eighties and nineties, and I still watch a select few now. Marvel Comics have also been huge helping of brain food for me as well. All these influences can be seen in what I write. Not all at the same time, but it helps me work with a wide variety of ideas, topics, and genres. No one likes to sit in the same chair too long. Every now and then it’s a treat for your butt to move somewhere else for a spell or two.
I’m going to just say quickly here that TV doesn’t rot your brain if you don’t let it abuse you, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with reading comic books or graphic novels.
This all comes out in my writing, of course. If I’m reading a lot of fantasy, then my mind goes there when I task it to create. The style of writing of what I’ve read comes out when I stain that blank page with my own ideas. If I’ve had my face in comic books, I may create a character who was bitten by a radioactive skunk and fights crime in the dead of night by spraying burglars and thieves with a potent concoction of putrid stink-juice and righteous justice. If I’m reading a horror book that reads like a snuff film I may… You get the point.
Everything shapes what we write. We all have different life experiences, and that goes into our base voices. We may have those influences I mentioned in previous paragraphs, but that wrinkled gray matter is always there, taking these ideas and molding them with the life experience we all subconsciously have buried within ourselves. Our characters are us. They’re projections of ourselves whether we’d admit it or not. Even the villains, as dastardly or as disgusting as they can be, come from us. To deny this is to deny yourself, and no one wants to deny themselves!
I’ve been reading one of my older stories. It’s one I had queried before that whole dehumanizing process defeated me. My main character is a right-wing asshole. He’s among the assholiest of them. I wrote his story in a time when people like him were getting their new voices in the prequel toward dystopia in which we’re living. So that bled onto the page. I also have a story I wrote last year that takes place a couple of centuries from now where democracy and America as a whole was decimated by what they call the “Bastard Kings of Old Government”. So, what we see and what we hear has a definite influence what we create. I hadn’t planned to go this route when I started writing. It just happened.
I had no particular direction in mind when I started writing. I had a story idea that was too strong to ignore. It was a story I wanted to read, and I knew I was the only one who can write it. No one else knew the exact combinations of words to get that story fleshed out and on the page. Only me. At the time I didn’t even have a laptop. I used a shitty writing program on my iPad and typed it on the screen. I eventually got a wireless keyboard, and I was in business. I hit the story and kept at it until it was done. 80,000 words later, and I had my first book.
There was no destination in mind. I had one goal, and that was to finish it. When it was done, though, I didn’t want to stop. Writing was a drug, and I just got my first taste of what it felt like to have finished draft sitting in front of me. My story was there, the one only I could create. My Muse wasn’t content with letting me finish just one book. She fed me more ideas, but I still had no goal in sight. I just wanted to write, and so I did. I wrote short stories, novels, flash fiction, novellas… whatever popped into my head.
It was then I cultivated a goal. I finally had a target at which to aim. I not only wanted to keep writing the way I always had, but I wanted to share my writing. I know I have these definitions wrong when I say this, but I wanted to go from a writer to an author. I wanted to become a master of fiction from my education from my past influences.
And where’s that leave me now? I reached that goal of becoming an author. Sure, I don’t put much stock in the querying process and don’t actively try to land that fantasy agent that can make all writers’ dreams come true. But I’m doing it my way. I’m writing, and I’m publishing myself. No one controls my voice but me. I can’t be told to change a character’s sexuality or to fix the book so it plays better with middle America. Whatever the hell that means. I can be as vulgar as I want and make my characters who they are.
Writing is a freedom I don’t want to give up. I find great joy in creating worlds and populating them. Maybe “creating” is a strong word here. The stories I write have already played out in my mind. I merely transcribe them the way I’ve seen them in my mind’s eye. The characters have already confessed every one of their secrets to me. They’re their own. I don’t choose their race or gender or sexualities. They are who they are, and they act how they act. In this sense, I’m only the story’s scribe. I feel a little pompous saying this, but the worlds I claim to “create” already exist in the space inside my own mind.
I’m trying something new with my next couple of writing projects. I’ve been training in tarot as of late. It’s been going well, too. There’s been some tarot in a few of my books too. If you’ve read Lost Women of the Admiral Inn, you would have seen a character get a full tarot reading. I’ll be using the tarot on my next two projects to flesh out the story as I write it. Writing and creating hasn’t gotten stale for me yet, but a little change every now and then is welcome. Think about the chair and butt analogy I used earlier for more clarity here. I do have outlines for those two aforementioned stories, but I kept them vague on purpose. Where will the stories take my characters? I have no idea. The cards will tell me!
And that’s it. I’m going to keep writing these stories as they come along. When the Muse speaks, I shall listen. She hasn’t steered me wrong yet with Her funny and dark tales. As long as there are ways to keep remixing the dictionary, I’ll keep doing it. That’s all there is to it.