I’m Writing for Dream Theater

astonishing-book-cover-mockup-fThe first thing you need to know is that Dream Theater is my favorite band. Ever.

It sounds a bit fanboy to say it like that, but it’s no less true. Now, having said that, it’s also true that my appreciation for metal, rock, jazz, Sinatra, and on and on, are all quite strong. Music has been central for me all my life. So much so that I spent several years in vocal training with Maestro David Kyle, who trained Geoff Tate of Queensryche, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart . . . you get the idea. And it led me to fronting a number of metal bands on small tours and at festivals in Europe.

All good stuff.

But music hasn’t become my bread and butter. That’s a familiar story for many.

Which brings me to fiction. Alongside my passion for music is my passion for storytelling. It’s another thing that’s been with me since the beginning. On that front, I’ve had a bit more success. I’ve had dozens of short stories published in professional anthologies. And I have a current epic fantasy series with Tor Books out of New York.

That series is entitled: The Vault of Heaven. I’m writing book three right now, but I recommend new readers start with book two, Trial of Intentions–it’s written as an entry point to the series and it’s my best book.

Unsurprising to anyone who knows me, my series features music prominently. In fact, fantasy writers like Brandon Sanderson and Robin Hobb have been quoted as saying they’ve never seen magic done the way I’m doing it–with music.

All of which brings me to my point. After some number of years, my two great passions have come together in a way I couldn’t have anticipated and about which I couldn’t be more happy.

I’m writing the novel to Dream Theater’s The Astonishing.

A little over a year ago, Dream Theater announced that they’d be doing a big double-CD concept album. Something science-fiction-y. After calming down, since I love DT, concept albums, and science fiction, I shot John Petrucci (Dream Theater guitarist) and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater keyboardist) an email. Essentially, I pitched them on writing the novel of their concept album.

I was able to shoot these cats an email because I’ve had the good fortune of meeting the band a few times over the years. For a time I did the music marketing at Microsoft/Xbox. And along the way, I developed enough of a rapport with the guys that I could dash off an email when the time was right. I have some other stories about exchanges with James Labrie and Jordan and John. I’ve had the chance to share meals with them. But I’ll save those for another time.

Things proceeded at a slow burn for a few months. There was interest, but much to do. I put together a formal proposal and sent that over. John and I wound up on the phone for a couple of extended conversations. Ultimately, he liked the things I was saying, and invited me to write a sample chapter. An audition of sorts. John is really nice, but he’s sharp and driven. He had lots of options on who would write the book. And I personally know other writers who had made a similar pitch. Not to mention writers John already knew and liked.

So, I jumped at the chance to write a sample chapter.

For those of you who know the core story of The Astonishing, he asked me to write about the events in the song “The Savior in the Square.” I asked him if he wanted me to be slavish to his summary and lyrics. He said no, giving me license to invent things of my own.

So, I did.

New characters, new motives, new technology. All in the over-arching plot, but also introducing new subplots and scenes.

John loved it. When we spoke next, he shared all the things he liked about how I built upon his vision. He was sold.

Then, we set on the arduous journey toward a publisher and contract. We vetted several offers. And once we landed on doing it with the small press I’m a part of, there was the contract, which wasn’t easy. Mostly because there are publishing rights we had to think through.

But neither of us gave up. Because we believed in this book.

And then, just last week, the final executed contract was done, and we could turn toward telling everyone who’d listen that there’s going to be a novel of The Astonishing.

Which is precisely what this blog post is all about.

But let me back up a bit.

One of the hugely awesome elements of this process came after I sent John the sample chapter. He and I then spent seven or eight very long phone conversations crawling through his own written summary of The Astonishing.

He was on the road at the time, so these calls often started very late at night. Even so, they went for hours. John spent time providing context and color to each part of the original story. I asked questions. And then I’d come up with new ideas and rationale for things and run them by him on the spot. More than once we each got those goosebumps at the ways the story was evolving as I pitched him ideas for how the story would grow.

There are dream projects, right? I know writers who would sell their eye-teeth do a Star Wars book. Other writers live to do something with D.C. Comics or Marvel. And I wouldn’t hate doing a book for any of those IPs. But for me, I couldn’t have scripted a better match. I mean, anything music-related would have been awesome. Make it metal, and the awesomeness would triple. But make it Dream Theater, and it’s ALL the awesome!

So, now I’m writing the book. I’m working with John on all the cool extras that you get with the Limited Edition. This is going to be a beautiful book. And those extras I mention are exclusives. If your a Dream Theater fan, you’re not going to want to miss this one. And there aren’t many, so I’d encourage you to pre-order if you’re interested.

And if you need something to read in the meantime, and you like music, remember my own series has a ton of music in it, including a music magic system–either Trial of Intentions or The Sound of Broken Absolutes would be the place to start. In fact, in some ways, the music in my fiction is part of what helped John decide to give me the gig.

Then, if you’re interested, follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter: @peterorullian and Facebook: www.facebook.com/peterorullian

I’ll be providing updates as I write the book. You can follow along as the project progresses and get a peek behind the curtain.

Stay metal!

Your Rock Lord,

Peter Orullian

My Emerald City Comicon Schedule, Yo

For those of you attending Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, here’s where I’ll be. Come by and we’ll talk about stuff.

51wDrDFJMWLHeya,

For those of you attending Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, here’s where I’ll be. Come by and we’ll talk about stuff:

Thursday, April 7

  • 5-7: Signing at the Wordfire Press booth, BB7-10

Friday, April 8

  • 10-3: Signing at the Wordfire Press booth, BB7-10

Saturday, April 9

  • 2-5: Signing at the Wordfire Press booth, BB7-10
  • 5:15-6:15: Creating Characters Smarter Than You Are, in W3A (Third Floor)
  • 7-11: ECCC Worldbuilders Tabletop Charity Party, Room 2AB (Level 2)

Sunday, April 10

  • 11-12: Signing at University Book Store Booth, Booth 5100
  • 12-1: Crafting Characters in Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Room W603
  • 1:15-2:15: Crafting Characters in Sci-Fi & Fantasy Author Autographing (Autographing Table 29)
  • 3-5: Signing at the Wordfire Press booth, BB7-10

I think that’s it. If there are any changes/updates, I’ll let you know.

Your Rock Lord,

Peter

 

Trial of Intentions Paperback Release Promotion

Anyone who picks up a copy of the paperback of Trial of Intentions will qualify to potentially win the following:

51wDrDFJMWLOkay, folks, I thought I’d do something for folks who decide to grab a copy of the paperback edition of Trial of Intentions, which just released.

There’s plenty of info about Trial of Intentions on my website or my Facebook page. Suffice to say that I wrote it as an entry point to my series, so no worries if you haven’t read anything by me before. And here’s what a few folks have said about the book:

Brandon Sanderson:
“Trial of Intentions is a grand novel, with strong world-building and a sweeping cast of distinctive characters. I can’t wait to see where Orullian takes us next!”

Robin Hobb:
“Trial of Intentions is a story of music and magic, of daring and sacrifice, in an intricate and believable world, where characters face difficult and heartbreaking choices. Orullian is doing things I haven’t seen in other books, including an original system of magic. This tale will resonate with readers long after the cover is closed.”

Tracy Hickman:
“Peter Orullian is a master of dark chocolate fantasy; bitter, harsh and sweet at once. Trail of Intentions grabs us firmly by the breastplate and challenges us to face a world of moral contradictions, stunning characters and harsh choices. An unflinching fantasy.”

L.E. Modesitt Jr.:
“Peter Orullian’s Trial of Intentions is a book enormous in scope and in intricacy, with a welter of political, cultural, and magical intrigues, behind which lies the role of song in preserving a myriad of cultures, all of which disagree with each other to some extent, even as it becomes apparent to the reader that, without some degree of cooperation, all will suffer, if not perish. A challenging story about challenged cultures, and one well-told.”

Booklist:
“Fans of George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan will love Orullian’s intricate yet nonetheless immersive story.”

Now, let’s get to the good stuff.

Anyone who picks up a copy of the paperback of Trial of Intentions will qualify to potentially win the following set of books:

  • Signed Hardback of Trial of Intentions
  • Signed Hardback of the Limited Edition of the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered (not yet published, but coming soon)
  • Signed copy of my novella The Sound of Broken Absolutes (set in the universe of my Vault of Heaven series)
  • Signed copy of my short story collection The Vault of Heaven, Story Volume One (these stories are set in the same universe as my Vault of Heaven series)
  • Signed copy of my forthcoming story collection Beats of Seven (these are various science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories NOT set in my series)
  • Signed copy of my forthcoming story collection The Vault of Heaven, Story Volume Two (these stories are set in the same universe as my Vault of Heaven series)

Now, to make it even more interesting, I thought we’d do a progressive type thing. So, if we get two thousand folks to enter, I’ll add a high end gaming PC. This is the perfect marriage of my day job and my writing life. The gaming rig will have an Nvidia GeForce 980 series GPU, an Intel i7 series CPU, and more goodies. This is just the rig; you’ll have to hook it up to your monitor and accessories.

Here’s how you enter:

  • Email me copy or pic of your proof of purchase, e.g. receipt
  • Then when you have the book in hand, email me a pic of yourself with the book. Feel free to be creative here :)
  • We’ll run all this through the end of the day on Sunday, April 10th

My email is: info (at) orullian (dot) com

Please pass this along to folks you know, too. They may like the chance to win all the awesomeness above, right? Okay, here we go!

Your Rock Lord,

Peter

Book Three Update. For Reasons.

Today I finished a rather comprehensive outline for book three.

I’m not sure where to start with this post. Or maybe I do, and I don’t think I have the energy for it. See, I’d have to go all the way back to getting assigned my editor for the original version of THE UNREMEMBERED in like 2010. I’d have to talk about how badly that all went. I’d have to get deep in the weeds about how I’m still feeling the repercussions of decisions that editor made all that time ago. And frankly, I don’t want to relive it. It depresses me. It makes me angry. And it’s Christmastime, so who needs those kinds of emotions floating around.

So . . .

Let me start further down the road: book two, TRIAL OF INTENTIONS. TrialOfIntentions-largeThe original draft of that book was 500K. This was unwise of me, primarily because I’m not able to write full time. Meaning, it lengthened the time between books. But see, my editor at the time–the guy mentioned above–sat on that manuscript for over a year without looking at it once I’d turned it in. And you know what’s sad? That’s the least of his sins with regard to my career. And his.

To be more accurate, the book he got was about 439K. I’d cut a bunch before sending it to him. When I finally got assigned a new editor–and my first editor got fired–my new editor read the book, and actually asked me to add some things. That version of the book wound up at 445K.

Then–as I’m told, since I wasn’t there–Tom Doherty comes into my editor’s office one day and asks how book two is coming along. She relates, among other things, the length. Tom asks her to cut it in half.

Now, rewind a bit. I’d asked my first editor when I submitted the behemoth: “Help me look at how I can divide this. I think it’s too long for a single volume.” That guy, having never read the book, said he didn’t see a way. Nice.

My new editor wondered if we could do something as simple as finding a natural break point. Something cliff-hanger-y. I rejected this. My logic at the time was that I don’t have the name or audience to suffer such an abrupt ending. Honestly, I’m not sure readers–however adoring of their favorite writer–ever like such endings. Even in a series.

So, I hunkered down for a week and really tore into the book, looking for a way to take roughly half the novel and reshape it into it’s own story. That required more than just selecting a chapter break and calling it good. No. I had to re-architect a metric ton o’stuff. I had to jettison a few things. I had to write a bunch of new stuff. I sent that proposal in to my editor. She loved it. On I went to rewrite book two, using roughly the first half of the original.

That rewrite wound up at 258K, and that’s what we published. I feel good about it. I got some nice quotes for the book from writers like Brandon Sanderson, Robin Hobb, Tracy Hickman, and L.E. Modesitt. And some fantastic reviews, to boot.

And now we get to the heart of it.

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Book three.

See, the rewrite of book two, well, it rendered immaterial most of the second half of that original 445K novel. But I have to rewind again.

Over the past year or so, I’ve lost two family members to death. To be honest, this affected my writing time. What that means is that as I’ve just recently come hard at book three, I’ve realized how much new stuff I needed to create–to tie into all the new stuff in book two. I’m not complaining. This is quite possibly my favorite part of the writing process: outlining. See, this is where I get to do so much worldbuilding, and character development, and plotting, and … well, everything. It’s a critical part of the writing process for me. And I love it!

And that’s the substance of this post. Today I finished a rather comprehensive outline for book three. I do this in Excel, of all things. But it works for me. And now I have a very solid blueprint for writing the next volume in the Vault of Heaven series. And … it wasn’t easy. Fun, but not easy. And some of the “not easy” part hearkens back to that unfortunate first editor/writer pairing. So much of this would have been easier and faster or avoidable if . . . well, I’ll just leave it there.

All of that said, some of the story creation that I’ve done over the last month or so is–in my own humble opinion–the best I’ve ever done. I don’t believe in fate the way many do, but if I did, this is where I’d be saying that the book I’m about to write wouldn’t be what it will be (which I think will be pretty awesome) without all the travails that have gone before. I’ll try to embrace a bit of that. Good karma.

Some of you will have heard that my idea for the series was to start readers in familiar epic fantasy territory, then evolve things to someplace new. Someplace my own. That crank starts to turn in the last half of the AUTHOR’S DEFINITIVE EDITION of THE UNREMEMBERED, gets several hard revolutions in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, and goes on complete steroids in BOOK THREE. This was always the plan. And I can’t wait to write this third volume.

I do have some bits from the second half of the original book two that I can harvest. So that’s good.

And can I share a secret with y’all? I’m actually a bit afraid that the pace is too fast in book three. That there’s also too much action. You know, battle-y thingys. I’m not being coy. But my beta-readers will catch it if everything is whizzing by too fast.

I have, though, left myself plenty of room for creation as I go. And actually, in some ways, the outline gives me a kind of freedom I completely dig. It’s like a coloring book. I know the shape of the thing now. And I will actively color outside the lines when I see the right opportunities. They always come. I welcome them. But now I have a really good path ahead, and I can tear into the line-by-line writing portion of book three.

Of course, I’ve also taken a few deliberate byways on the road to book three. Things like the song and video I did for Patrick Rothfuss and his cool Worldbuilders charity. Posted here for your enjoyment. I do a send up of the old writerly saw: “Kill your darlings.” And I do it to the music of Bohemian Rhapsody, with original lyrics penned in homage to a couple of my literary heroes: George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.

Speaking of which, the Sanderson Quote I mentioned above for Trial of Intentions just came in. Brandon read the book quite recently. I was floored. And grateful. Can’t wait to see the paperback of Trial of Intentions with Brandon’s quote on the cover.

Anyway, I digress.

Book three! Here I come!

And for y’all’s, hang on to your boots. It’s going to be quite a ride.

Your Rock Lord,

Peter

STORYTIME! TRIAL OF INTENTIONS IS OUT!

Well, folks, the day has finally arrived. TRIAL OF INTENTIONS is out! And as I’ve said before, if you haven’t read anything in my series, you can dive in with this one. I get you caught up fast.

As for other pertinent stuffs. Here are a few things that have been said about the book:

Robin Hobb:
“Trial of Intentions is a story of music and magic, of daring and sacrifice, in an intricate and believable world, where characters face difficult and heartbreaking choices. Orullian is doing things I haven’t seen in other books, including an original system of magic. This tale will resonate with readers long after the cover is closed.”

Tracy Hickman:
“Peter Orullian is a master of dark chocolate fantasy; bitter, harsh and sweet at once. Trail of Intentions grabs us firmly by the breastplate and challenges us to face a world of moral contradictions, stunning characters and harsh choices. An unflinching fantasy.”

L.E. Modesitt Jr.:
“Peter Orullian’s Trial of Intentions is a book enormous in scope and in intricacy, with a welter of political, cultural, and magical intrigues, behind which lies the role of song in preserving a myriad of cultures, all of which disagree with each other to some extent, even as it becomes apparent to the reader that, without some degree of cooperation, all will suffer, if not perish. A challenging story about challenged cultures, and one well-told.”

Also, the early reviews say some sweet things:

Elitist Book Reviews
“Orullian has found an untapped reservoir of talent in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS. Where THE UNREMEMBERED shines, TRIAL OF INTENTIONS transcends. Where THE UNREMEMBERED lagged or suffered, TRIAL OF INTENTIONS has displayed deftness that is far beyond its status as the second book in a series. Orullian is not just an author, but an artist. One of the rare writers, like Hemingway, Steinbeck, Lewis, and others, whose use of words, imagery, and literary techniques lifts him above his compatriots and peers into a category inhabited by the truly great.”

Book Frivolity
“This is one of the most wonderful, beautiful, yet emotionally brutal fantasy books I’ve read in a long time. It is, in my eyes, pretty bloody gorgeous on multiple levels . . . I loved it, I think any anybody that loves to explore the nitty gritty workings within a fantasy world will love it and anybody looking for the fantasy genre to be flipped on it’s back karate style will love it.”

Dragon Mount
“This was a great read, keeping in line with the epicness of the genre, and the complications expected from realistic characters. This series grows more in depth in each book . . . Orullian’s world is absorbing and I can’t wait to return to it again.”

Deseret News
“This is an immediately engaging series with interesting characters and story. There’s great detail in this world, which comes with unique rules of magic and science, and the characters are well developed . . . This book would appeal to fans of Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, J.R.R. Tolkien and Patrick Rothfuss.”

Also, I’ll be on book tour, starting tonight:

Tuesday, May 26
U Books, 7:00pm

301 S Campus Ctr, Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-6582

Thursday, May 28
Mysterious Galaxy, 7:30pm

5943 Balboa Ave #100, San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 268 4747

Saturday, May 30
Borderlands, 3pm

866 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 824-8203

Sunday, May 31
Copperfield’s Petaluma, 1pm

140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma, CA 94952
(707) 762 0563

Monday, June 1
Powell’s Cedar Hills Crossing, 7PM

3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, OR 97005
(503) 228-4651

Tuesday, June 2
Weller Book Works, 6pm

607 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
(801) 328-2586

Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Barnes & Noble, Orem, 7PM

330 East 1300 South, Orem, UT 84057
(801) 229-1611

The book is bookstores, of course. But if you’d prefer to order it online, you can do so:

Amazon
Barnesandnoble.com

And elsewhere . . . plus, if you’d like a signed copy, but can’t get to a signing, you can order one here:

Grim Oak

And so’s you know, I’m using Nightwish’s “Storytime” as my tour theme. Consider these lyrics from the tune as my matra:

I am the voice of never, never land,
The innocence of dreams from every man,
I am the empty grave of Peter Pan,
A soaring kite against the blue, blue sky,
Every chimney, every moonlit sight
I am the story that will read you real,
Every memory that you hold dear

Now listen to the jam:

I think that’s it for now. I’ll update with more later!

Your Rock Lord,

Peter