The Origins of Annwyn’s Blood
During the fall semester of 1985, I enrolled in a science fiction and fantasy creative writing class at Brigham Young University. The professor, one “Doc” Smith, required the class to write a new story weekly. Each assignment focused on an element of storytelling—one week focused on character, setting, plot, etc. So each week a crop of tales were submitted by the class that plumbed the various aspects of a short story.
With the arrival of setting week, I found myself wrestling with a variety of settings, but needed them to be the story’s anchor. And what could be more critical to a vampire fantasy tale than the setting? Creepy in my mind equated shadows, misty rain, thunder and lighting, etc. But not in the Hollywood sort of way where lightening cracks at a specified cue to highlight the drama (or lack thereof). Rather, I wanted the setting to become a hurdle to the hero, a young knight on a quest, something to be overcome along with the villain of the tale. Thus the setting was woven into the story not only as an overarching hurdle, but also as a key element during the conflict with the villain.
The short story, One Dark Knight, told the tale of Erik of Birkenshire and his quest to free the princess, fight the good fight and ride off into the sunset. However, in it’s original form, it left open that something wasn’t quite right with the rescued princess—and that something could bite the young knight in the future.
After graduating from Brigham Young, I began graduate school at the University of Maryland, College Park, with a focus in Russian/Byzantine history. It was during this time that I contacted my life long friend and oft collaborator, Steve Arnold, and work on Annwyn’s Blood began. When completed, we shopped the novel to agents, publishing houses and anyone who expressed interest. However, the feedback in the mid-1990s was all very much the same. Thank you for a great read. But who wants yet another vampire novel? We hope you will send your next manuscript to us.
By the early 2000’s, both Steve and I were up to our eyeballs raising families and shifting focus in terms of our writing. Sometime around 2005, I put aside an unfinished fantasy novel to write the feature film screenplay, Song of Roland. Following that, Steve and I collaborated on the story for a WWII thriller screenplay entitled Blood Money. Both scripts launched us into writing a horror script that is currently in development, Feast of St. Nicholas. However, Annwyn’s Blood remained unpublished.
In 2012, while salvaging folders on a failing hard drive, I found an old version of Annwyn’s Blood. It needed a lot of TLC to revise and finalize for publication. Both Steve and I decided that it had remained hidden long enough and that after a polish, we would let readers decide if it was worth continuing on this journey. In late 2013, after many rewrites, professional edits, comments from beta-readers, etc., we turned the manuscript over to Amazon and other online distributors. Nearly 20 years after the first manuscript, the story saw the light of day.
Mike has wanted to write since he was very young. His earliest memories are of carrying a battered old notebook around full of illustrations and stories. He would often transpose those ideas on his grandmother’s old typewriter. While in college, he was inspired by professors and visiting writers to BYU. Literary classics such as Song of Roland and Inferno were often in his backpack, along with Russian textbooks. Chapter 4 of Annwyn’s Blood was written during this time as a short story. Mike works in Washington, DC since pursuing graduate studies in Russian History. He focuses in domestic policy issues. Recently, Mike has pursued an interest in writing screenplays for feature films with his first option being a medieval epic, Song of Roland. He continues to focus on a variety of script/movie projects, most recently a horror thriller, Feast of Saint Nicholas, and a political thriller, The Prince. Recently, he founded and launched Filibuster Filmworks with his partners to produce and develop feature films, television and other projects. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Lori and his wonderful children. He dreams of one day driving to Alaska in his old Defender with his kids and their dog, Marlin.