Author Mark Wooden welcomes you to the "Shadowdance" saga.

My history of the “Shadowdance” saga

The “Origins of the Shadowdance” page gives you details on what the Shadowdance means within its literary world. This welcome tells you the historical context in which I conceived the “Shadowdance” saga.

How the “Shadowdance” saga began

The first book of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series

The first book of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series

Picture it: 1995. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (the good one with SMG) was two years away. Wesley Snipes was still Nino Brown and not Blade the day-walking vampire hunter.

What we did have was a series of books from author Laurell K. Hamilton — the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. I read the first novel, “Guilty Pleasures,” and became enthralled with the world of supernatural creatures in a modern-day setting. I also loved the idea of a female protagonist.

The terms “urban fantasy” and “paranormal romance” weren’t a thing then. Hamilton pretty much started it.

Til then, I was absorbed in X-Men and Batman comic books and horror movies. Writing in this growing milieu inspired by Hamilton was a doorway to combine both.

Do you know any millionaires?

With the 1989 “Batman” movie, it again became a thing to have comic books on the big screen.

My third love was movies. I went to college telling the professors, “Me and the boys are gonna make movies; point me to the gear.” (They were enthusiastic, but did remind me I should probably take a class or two first.)

Combining comics, vampires/ supernatural, and movies, I wrote the first story of the “Shadowdance” saga. It was a movie called “Requiem for the Lonely.”

“Requiem” had all the elements that would become the saga it is today. There was Adrienne, a vampire assassin a the female protagonist. I had a rock band in there, bringing that musical influence. And the movie was action-packed, using supernatural creatures like werewolves and demons as stand-ins for comic book heroes and villains.

And then the rest of the world caught up with Ms. Hamilton and me. “Buffy,” “Blade,” “Underworld,” all those paranormal romance novels with the female protagonist torn between a world of violence and the love of either the vampire or werewolf prince.

Did I mention I also had zero Hollywood connections and no way to get the estimated $30 million to make a movie?

“Shadowdance” in transition

In the interim years (roughly 1998 to 2012), I tried the comic book thing. I set “Requiem” aside and wrote a different story, “Welcome to the Dance.” This story greatly resembles what would become “By Virtue Fall” (but don’t want to get too far ahead).

I wrote it up as a four-part comic book series (they were all the rage when I was a kid). Even got an artist online to draw a few pages. I’d show that stuff to you, but I got robbed in 2006, and that data went the way of the dodo.

Coincidentally, I would have lost all of my “Shadowdance” work if not for an intuitive nudge that got me to take my laptop with me on a family reunion trip.

After that, I figured “Shadowdance” was meant to be.

And then a dear friend of mine made the suggestion that changed it all: “You’re a writer; why don’t you write a novel?”

…but that requires…writing!

I’d shied from writing a full novel because, well, I’m lazy. For a script, you’re told not to get too descriptive. You get the story established, production designers, cinematographers, actors, director, etc. will flesh out the rest. In a comic, you plant ideas, maybe send the artist reference pics, but then somebody else does the heavy lifting for the visual descriptions.

With a novel, you’re on your own.

By this point, I’d become a much better writer than I was with “requiem.” That thing played like a mid-level pic from the guys behind “Sharknado.”

But with no other way to go, I buckled down and got to work.

Thankfully, my job as a video tech allowed lots of free time. I got the bulk of the novel researched and written on the job. I saved up enough money to hire editors (Batman do I need them!) and went through a couple of cover artists.

Turned out having total control of the senses wasn’t as much trouble as I’d imagined.

Old cover for the "Shadowdance" saga novel "By Virtue Fall"

Original cover for “By Virtue Fall.”

The Modern-day “Shadowdance”

Nearly two decades after I first dreamed of the Shadowdance, “By Virtue Fall” was born with its new/ old female protagonist, now Adriana.

I tried the literary agent route but ultimately bagged that idea for self-publishing. Back in 1995, we called it “Vanity Publishing” and crapped on it for being ego-driven. Now, self-publishing is all the rage. Using the internet to find guidance, I got “By Virtue Fall” on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

Full confession: “BVF” was a stunt. The story I’d written was so long that I broke it into two books, that one and “For Her Sins.” The decision came when researching price points for the paperback version. Why buy a $25 book from me when you can get another author’s book at $7-12?

To compete, I split the books and dropped the price way down. Still not at that $7 price point, and people still didn’t buy the book, but at least now I had a one-two punch of releases.

Somewhere in there, a friend who used to work in Hollywood approached me about the movie idea. I wrote a separate story, “Wake the Darkness,” and tried to get a production manager onboard.

That didn’t pan out, but the story’s still solid. Probably will turn it into the fourth song in the series. (Song? What do I mean by that? Go read “How music influences the Shadowdance!”)

The “Wake the Darkness” title alone inspired some friends to make a “Shadowdance” saga theme song.

The way forward

The “Shadowdance” saga has worked in a fit of bursts and lags.

“BVF” dropped in 2013 (though it didn’t get its best version until 2016). “For Her Sins” came soon after that. The third novel, “Illusion of Love,” has kicked my butt with its complexity. I will not bow, I will not break; I intend to press on like a pair of fake nails.

Curiously, what was “Requiem for the Lonely” is largely becoming “Illusion of Love.” There are tweaks due to the works I’ve completed, but the basic plot is that two-decades-old story I will not let die. “Illusion” will be an improvement and a love note to some influential musicians and movies.

With the newly revised site, I intend to keep you more up to date on the saga. I’ll post musings on the battle of creativity; “how-tos” on how I pulled off some of this, particularly getting together a kick-ass set of covers. I’ll also enlist some beta readers via the newsletter. You’ll get to see elements of the “Shadowdance” saga before anybody else.

So sit back, grab a stake, and prepare to kick up a notch for the ride that is an action/ urban fantasy saga! I recommend starting your journey with the Initiated.

Or, if you wanna dive right in, check out the books and ebooks! Maybe even buy a t-shirt. My dachshund mascot will get to eat!

Thanks for keeping up! Don’t forget to sign up for the”Shadowdance” saga newsletter below.

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