Weaned on the likes of The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars,
Eldon took to writing fantasy adventure, it seems, almost as soon as he learned
to read. By the time he hit grade school, he was writing 30-page stories in lieu
of the two or three pages expected of all students on a monthly basis. When at
age nine he read Terry Brooks's The Elfstones of Shannara, his goal of
becoming a fantasy novelist went from child's ambition to hopeless obsession.
Yet writing was to be a hobby. Even his parents stressed the importance of a
"safe" career path. So when the time came, Eldon accepted a scholarship and went
off to college, where among his English, writing, and mythology courses, he
studied computers, the health sciences, and worked hard to play football. What
he really wanted to be was a quarterback. The NFL off-season, he thought, was
long enough in which to write books.
However, after knee surgery, a dislocated throwing shoulder (literally dozens
of times), and years of daily chiropractic care, he found himself on the outside
looking in. Upon graduation from college, he finally accepted that
of entering dental school were far greater than those of ever being invited to an NFL
Only, he didn't really want to do that, either. Other than play football, the
only thing he'd ever really wanted to do was write—and he had several thousand
pages of unpublished work to prove it. Still, it was unpublished for a reason.
He hadn't tried, but he had no doubt as to what the result would have been if he
Employed as a technical writer, he spent the next few years composing and
discarding works of dubious value. He had completed no fewer than six novels, as
well as countless stories, premises, and unfinished works—but nothing of
publishable quality. Eventually he decided that the fantasy genre was something
to which he had nothing new to offer—at least, not in novel form. So he moved to
Los Angeles to study screenwriting at UCLA, where he had hopes of bringing a
worthy fantasy to the silver screen.
Three years later, Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings hit theaters—a
project Eldon had absolutely nothing to do with, and which many have called an
unmatchable achievement, the cinematic triumph of the new century.
So much for making a fresh mark.
It so happened, though, that during this time, Eldon began attending
the Maui Writers Retreat and Conference, where, among bestselling novelists such
as John Saul and Elizabeth George, he had a chance to study with his lifelong
idol, Terry Brooks. Terry was most gracious in his encouragement. Rather than
leave Eldon to the wolves, Terry allowed him to redo assignments until they were
more or less on track. Though it might not have shown early on, Eldon was taking
good notes and even learning a thing or two.
But the best advice Eldon received, he believes, was to stop trying to invent
something so original that it would redefine the cosmos. There's no such thing
as a truly original story. And if there were, by definition, no reader would be
able to relate to it. If what he wanted to write was a coming-of-age
adventure story, then he was to go and do it, and trust in his own voice to make
it fresh and exciting.
Somewhat skeptical, Eldon went home with the opening chapters of a work that
had been voted a finalist for the Rupert Hughes Writing Award. It was an ancient
effort, originally started back in junior high school. But it fit the bill of a
coming-of-age fantasy adventure. Maybe, just maybe, there was something to be
salvaged from it. Disregarding all else, including employment for a year, he
took to re-envisioning this story from page one. The typical
fantasy, or so it would seem. But what if, along the way, he were to tweak a
couple of the most common conceits of the genre? What if our hero of destiny
found out that he wasn't necessarily? What if the power of the
talisman he were
to uncover proved not to be his at all? What if he was just an ordinary person
swept up by extraordinary circumstances, who learns too late that there is
nothing to suggest he is adequate to the task? How might he respond?
Those questions became the backbone of The Crimson Sword, a story in
which Eldon makes repeated efforts to take time-honored conventions and turn
them lovingly on their ear. Instead of the elderly wizard as mentor, how about a
youthful assassin? Instead of a power-hungry wizard, how about one with a
legitimate claim? And so forth. A story in which nothing is quite what it
originally seems, and which sets the stage for even darker twists to come.
In the fall of 2003, Eldon's efforts paid off in the form of a
three-book deal with HarperCollins (Eos) for his Legend of Asahiel
trilogy. The hardcover edition of The Crimson Sword launched in
May 2005. Its sequel, The Obsidian Key, followed in July 2006.
The concluding volume in the trilogy, The Divine Talisman, hit
shelves in July 2008.
Eldon has also made strides in the screenwriting arena. In
early 2007, after years of focused effort and months of negotiations, he inked
an option agreement with Warner Bros Pictures for his screenplay adaptation of
Terry Brooks's The Elfstones of Shannara.
He also wrote the award-winning short film
Thorns (2009), and,
like most Hollywood scribes, has several feature scripts drawing varying degrees
With these and other projects vying for his attention, Eldon spends
most of his time chained to his writing desk. If found away from his keyboard, he is most likely doing one of
two things: lifting weights, or fantasizing about becoming an NFL quarterback.