An Author Needs His Hat

“So, what’s with the hat?” The question came from a young man in the back row of the small (but thankfully packed) room.

I had been fielding questions about plot, world-building, characters, building a series, and on being a writer, so this caught me off guard. My bad. It was not the first time I had received such a question. I was reminded of this when a twitter follower graciously allowed me to finish the day with a smile this week, posting that he couldn’t ignore a book written by an author with such a great hat. Thank you, sir.

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So, what is with the hat? I was wearing it when my sons and I wrote those first words deep in a redwood forest in 2010. Sitting at a campsite picnic table, I brandished my snow-white keyboard, doffed my hat and wrote: “In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit…

Okay, I’m getting carried away. I actually opened At The Walls of Galbrieth with the words: The screams pierced his dreams and… Every summer since, I have read the next manuscript to my sons while camping, and while wearing my hat.

Reading Book 6 in the summer of 2015. End of an era.

Reading Book 6 to my toughest critics in the summer of 2015. End of an era.

Though I feel a great connection between hat and story, none of my characters actually wear a hat in the novels. Maybe I connect to it because I would simply feel too self-conscious walking around the San Francisco Bay Area with a heavy, hooded cloak and staff with the exception perhaps of Halloween.

Ironically, I am not much of a hat-wearer. Traveling to the East Coast in winter warrants a hat, and the same one I wear for camping, sits aloft my head as I fly fish. I am sure the trout take careful note of my headgear since they totally ignore my fly.

But now I have begun to take notice. The professor wore his tweed hat though not in his ancient Oxford study. Sir Terry Pratchett RIP had his splendid black fedora (hope I’m getting the title right). And I have seen other fantasy authors on twitter handles, websites, and Wanted posters.

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Neil Gaiman, in his wonderful tribute to Sir Terry, described their first meeting thus: The author, a former journalist, has a hat, but it’s a small, black leathery cap, not a Proper Author Hat. Not yet.

So here is my Wycaan Master books series by hat. Please feel free to click on each to see which book the photo features on (we used the same for Books 3 + 4).

Bookcover Trees copyBookcover Snow copy                                                                         Bookcover Ocean copyAuthor Photo Book 5 copy

Are you a fantasy author with a hat to show? Feel free to leave photo and link to your books in the comments.

Here’s to authors in hats. May our heads be ever covered, our pages full of words, and our minds ever brimming with imagination!

We are now less than two weeks from the release of From Ashes They Rose (October 1.). So please, consider investing $2.99 to preorder the ebook version. Maybe one day you can point out nonchalantly to friends over a deep red Merlot that you helped that best selling author when he was still a struggling writer.

How could I forget...

How could I forget…

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, and four more novels in the Wycaan Master Series – all released by Tourmaline Books. From Ashes They Rose, the fifth in the series, will be released October 1, 2015. The story continues.

Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+

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I Didn’t Mean To Kill Her

I swear I didn’t. She is beautiful, funny and has a wicked repartee. My protagonist might be a bit wooden, excusable given all the tragic events he has gone through and the overall mission he is on. He is moody, serious, but very good at killing the bad people. While he has great depth, she lightens him up.

And I’m going to miss the sex. She is as creative in this realm as she is with her comments.

It was an accident. Really.

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An assassin came to kill the prince. The protagonist chased him all over the castle battlements. They both had bows and shot at each other from some really cool angles, or while jumping or falling. I had a great time and if there are any video game designers out there, it will make a great video game addition to the movie (oh, and if there are any producers out there…).

So the good guy and the baddie are running and jumping, and I’m having a ball as my fingers speed around the keyboard. Suddenly they find themselves face-to-face with the prince and my aforementioned heroine. 

Now all this had been planned, in as much as I thought of the chase while at the gym in the morning. What came next surprised even me.

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Hero does a neat role and kills assassin, who gets off a shot at the prince. Sexy woman dives on the prince and takes the arrow herself.

Ooops!

I am staring at the screen. My reflexes press save and I curse that holy ethic that pompous authors such as myself are wont to say over a Merlot in a party (it would be legit to imagine mine accompanied by an English accent, acquired at birth, cultivated for maximum pretentiousness: “Oh yes, I let the story guide me.

Kind of like my protagonist and the prince, I am now staring at her prone, slight body, red hair splayed around her, and blood ominously seeping from her chest.

It was time to pick up my youngest from school. As we walked home, he asked if I was okay. “I have a problem,” I said and described the above scenario.

“Of course you can change it,” my 10-year-old says. “It’s your story,” and he spent the whole walk home offering various scenarios from his vivid imagination.

Sometimes it takes a child to add proportion. My fantasy woman will live… for now at least. I’m old enough to know I am not master of my own destiny, but I’ll be buggered if I cannot be master of my own muse.

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So tonight I will make the necessary changes. And if the critic cops point fingers at me, I’ll just hold up my hands: “But… I didn’t mean to kill her.” 

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, Wycaan Master Book 1 and The First Decree, both released by Tourmaline Books. Ashbar – Book 3 – is due for release in October 2013. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).