One of the most common questions Eldon receives is that of how
he came to write a particular story. These readers want to know where he drew
his inspiration, hear some of the challenges he may have faced, etc. The
following note from Eldon offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse, explaining some of
the story background and how it all came about.
"I began devising The Crimson Sword years ago
while in junior high school. Weary of writing stories that might be
considered carbon copies of those by Tolkien, Alexander, Brooks, and
so many others, I set out to write my own, original adventure—never
mind that there is nothing new under the sun. Most fantasy, as I saw
it, involved the triumph of a young hero over evil in some form,
with a coming-of-age, a love interest, and a generally happy ending.
What I wanted to explore, then, was what might follow this classic
tale, since it seemed to me that even heroic deeds should have
unforeseen consequences. What if, in saving the day, our hero had
done more harm than good, unleashing an evil greater than that which
he had vanquished? I envisioned the typical Prince Charming, on top
of the world with his new kingdom and his new bride and I couldn't
wait to shatter that peace in true-to-life fashion.
The problem, I soon realized, was that my "Prince"
was not a very sympathetic character. It seemed paramount to me that
the trouble brewing should not be random happenstance, but a direct
result of his own previously heroic—yet ultimately reckless—actions.
So why should we care about this pompous charlatan, living it up in
his palace? Would he not deserve to be punished for his own
I had come full circle, back to the standard
coming-of-age tale I had originally thought to avoid. For I needed a
setup story to precede this fall from grace, a story to establish
our hero in an effort to make him human, well-intentioned, and
thereby deserving of our sympathy. Not only that, but if I expected
to riff on the traditional happily-ever-after ending, then my setup
story would need to generate just that, following the existing,
Still, I did not want to slip back into photocopy.
So I began looking at the conventions and trying to figure out which
ones I could twist. While there were several minor ones that leapt
out at me, I settled on two of the biggest. The first would be the
nature of the artifact after which our hero gives chase. A sword,
yes, but what if that sword was not the cure-all talisman he
expected it to be? Going hand in hand was the notion of destiny. By
most accounts, the hero is the one person upon whom the fate of the
world rests. What if this hero wasn't? What if he was merely deluded
into believing such until it was too late to do otherwise? My plan
became to have an orphan thrust by circumstance into a quest beyond
his imagining, called upon to be a savior of mankind by retrieving a
lost artifact, only to learn that the weapon's power is not his to
control. Before the end he finds himself just like the rest of us,
sheathed not in the certainty of preordination, but with a fate that
depends entirely on his own choices and determination.
A bit heady, perhaps, but I was too naďve to be
bothered by it. I wrote the first book in high school, and a pair of
follow-up novels in college—a trilogy in the Aristotelian sense. The
manuscripts went straight into a drawer, not to be seen by anyone
until years later, when I submitted the opening pages for the Rupert
Hughes Award at the Maui Writers Conference. Placing as a finalist
was encouraging, but I remained unconvinced, thinking I could come
up with something much grander in vision and scope. It wasn't until
Terry Brooks suggested I focus on telling a traditional,
coming-of-age adventure story that I rediscovered this discarded
work—which, after years of rewrites under the sage guidance of
numerous professionals, became the book we see today."