Developing the Andy Smithson series
By L. R. W. Lee
The Andy Smithson series is a narrative of redemption that incorporates uncommon life principles that can transform lives, while entertaining middle grade and older children. It’s a fantasy adventure designed to be a coming-of-age series spanning seven novels. The first book, Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, begins with our protagonist, Andy Smithson, at age ten.
To have a series that spans this number of books, I invented a plot driven story with multiple layers that would permit mystery with unexpected twists and turns while developing many characters. There are four plot layers I work simultaneously – 1) Andy at home with his family in Lake Hills, TX 2) the After Life with Imogenia and King Hercalon IV 3) current day Oomaldee with King Hercalon V and King Abaddon and 4) the realm from which Methuselah and several other objects come. While managing the complexities of each of these layers and how each impacts the other, I also purposefully mixed in life principles including overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more, along with humor.
I chose to present every layer from Andy’s point of view so the reader can discover events with Andy; I wanted them to feel like they were experiencing the same situations and, therefore, part of the story. Using a single point of view also allowed me to withhold certain clues and not reveal too much, too quickly. Only the prologue has been written from a different point of view, that of Imogenia, and only because Andy had not yet been born.
One challenge with the first book in any series is to invent a big enough space in which the characters and plot can evolve over multiple books. In Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, I have invented no less than eighty different characters to accomplish just this. This foundation allows me significant space to develop the storyline, revealing how the characters interact and impact each other. I can go deep with any one of the initial characters, introducing friends, relatives, teachers or other people or events that impact their lives making them who they are today and who they are becoming. I began with an understanding of the general types of characters I would need to invent in order to develop the plot. Some of these included a protagonist with many flaws, a good friend, a wise elder with an endearing helper, a character that keeps the reader on edge, unsure whether to call him a good guy or a bad guy, and more.
The environment emerged similarly. I began by knowing there would be a medieval castle with lots of hidden tunnels – great fodder for mysteries. The plot then dictated the specifics.
The end result of all this is the Andy Smithson series is a complex, but very enjoyable narrative that several readers have revealed they just couldn’t put down once they started reading.
Since the age of eight, L. R. W. Lee wanted to write a children’s book, but felt she did not have anything significant to share; she sought to change lives while entertaining. A degree in Accounting did not provide riveting fodder for a best seller, so she waited. Over a decade, she founded and grew a company, during which, she worked closely with a mentor from whom she learned uncommon thinking that changed her life. After selling her business in early 2012, she had time to write and, more importantly, something significant to share.
L. R. W. Lee lives in Austin, TX with her husband, daughter and son.