Born with a rare brittle bone disease known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta and therefore unable to participate in many physical activities, Marshall Walls has dedicated much of his life to reading and writing.
These years of creativity brought about countless ideas for novels, the first of which is his debut novel, Dawn of the Destined Hero, which was published in December of 2013. Set in the Middle Ages, it tells the story of Arimax Holycross, a boy who discovers the power of magic and must confront what it means to be a true hero.
What is Osteogenesis Imperfecta? How does it affect an individual, and what role has it had in shaping who you are today?
Osteogenesis Imperfecta is a rare brittle bone disease in which one’s body doesn’t produce enough of a protein called collagen, leaving the bones much more fragile than any normal person. Of the various types of the disease, I’m fortunate enough to have the mildest version, but I’ve still suffered a few breaks as a young child. The worst of which was a break of my left femur, the strongest bone in the human body, leaving me in traction in the hospital for weeks when I was two years old.
I’ve been very lucky and had no breaks since, but many sufferers of the disease aren’t so lucky. I’ve met some children with OI who roll over in bed and break a bone. Some have so many frequent breaks that they’re confined to a wheelchair their entire lives. In comparison, lucky isn’t even the word I would use to describe how fortunate I’ve been with how few fractures and breaks I’ve had throughout my life.
The way OI has affected me has more to do with my inability to participate in many physical activities as a child and even into my teen years. As a result, I spent a lot of time writing various stories and brainstorming even more tales to one day sit down and write about. This naturally gave birth to my desire to become a full-time author and spend the rest of my life writing.
How did the story for Dawn of the Destined Hero come about? What inspired you?
Dawn of the Destined Hero came about due to my love for fantasy stories filled with heroes, villains, and magic. I’ve been inspired by a lot of things from my childhood, including various RPGs such as Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy series, films such as The Princess Bride and The NeverEnding Story, and books such as The Lord of the Rings.
At age twelve, I came up with the idea of a young boy becoming a hero of destiny, coming across a number of magical stones which allow him to battle the forces of evil. I spent the next decade and longer constructing the entire storyline for the books in the series to come.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing this novel?
The most challenging aspect would have been finishing the book itself. I spent over fifteen years working on it, doing revision after revision, deepening the plot, strengthening the characters, and raising the quality of the novel as a whole. I had to make sure everything was right, becoming the great first act to a lengthy series, before I could consider it complete. Finally, in November of 2013, my work was done, and I couldn’t be more proud of the results.
In terms of editing and fine-tuning your writing, do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist? How did you know when Dawn of the Destined Hero was truly a finished piece?
I am certainly a perfectionist. That is probably the top reason why my book took so long to be completed. :P
I deemed Dawn of the Destined Hero to be a finished piece when I read through the story again after a final, final, FINAL edit and realized that, in the moment, I couldn’t improve it any more. At that very second, there was nothing I could think of to make the book any better than it already was. In the future, I may see things, likely little things, to make it a tiny bit better, but the origin of Arimax Holycross felt “done.” I could feel it when I finished that final read. It felt like a book. It felt like a REAL novel, and some parts were so good that I was shocked that I’d written it. I felt that I’d written something special, and from that day forward, all I’ve wanted to do was share it with the world.
What fantasy story or novel do you wish you had written?
I truly wish I had written A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I’m currently reading the novel, but I’ve been a huge fan of the television version for the last couple years. There’s something so amazing in regards to the way Martin weaves a story, introducing and establishing characters and interconnected relationships with decades of backstory and tension within such a dangerous world. His ability to be able to give life to so many characters, to juggle all those interesting storylines, and especially how he comes up with shocking swerves that make so much sense within the world he’s given birth to makes me quite jealous. I constantly strive to reach the level of quality of the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
What would it take for you to call your writing career a success?
I will consider my career a success the day that I can live comfortably entirely due to my writing. The ability to dedicate myself exclusively to my writing to make a living has been my dream for many years, and when I can achieve that, everything else, such as a dedicated fanbase and so on, will be the icing on the proverbial cake.
What are your three favorite Final Fantasy games? What is it about those that you enjoy most?
My favorite of the Final Fantasy series would have to be Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy IV, and… let’s say Final Fantasy VII. I hesitate to say FF7 due to the fact that it’s the favorite of nearly everyone, but that’s because it’s an excellent game. It was a fantastic way to get into the series for newbies back in 1997, and also arguably the pinnacle of the entire FF saga as a whole. It’s hard not to enjoy the tale of Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Barrett, and, of course, the evil Sephiroth.
I’m a really big fan of FF4 due to the fact that it’s the first “true” Final Fantasy game in my eyes. The first three for NES were clunky and riddled with issues. They didn’t age well, either. They were great for the late 80s, and had some innovative concepts for the time, but FF4 is the one that really leaped ahead and resembled the FF for years to come thanks to the improvement in graphics from 8-to-16 bit, the memorable characters, and the interesting plot, let alone twists, turns, and shockers that would be staples within the series for decades.
And FF9 is my all-time favorite due to a few things. It was the peak of the PS1’s capabilities, which made the game look far better than FF7 and FF8 before it, which look kinda bad at points, especially FF7. The characters are so lovable (or hate-able in the case of villains), the plot is deep, lengthy, and so heart-warming at many points, the battle system is innovative and unique, and I’m a sucker for love stories, and I think FF9 pulls that off the best (though FF10 came pretty close), so that’s icing on the cake for me. Plus, while FF7 is widely-regarded as the “best FF ever,” FF9 is greatly underrated, in my opinion, so I’m happy to give it the credit it truly deserves.
You’re a fan of the WWE. In your opinion, what’s been the best rivalry or feud during your time as a viewer?
A few of the rivalries have stood out far above the rest thanks to the talent of the stars involved and the intriguing story that they tell each week for months, even years at a time. The first that comes to mind would be Chris Jericho versus Shawn Michaels from both 2003 and 2008. This story involved two of my favorite wrestlers ever and how Jericho idolized Michaels as a fan, even emulating him for much of his early career. Then the two finally met face-to-face in the ring, and Jericho did everything he could to prove he was better than Michaels. Both men did an excellent job with displaying their contrasting characteristics, weaving a shades-of-grey storyline explaining why they hated each other so much.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin versus Vince McMahon is the defining feud of arguably the biggest boom in pro wrestling, taking place in the late 90s. Everyone could relate to the idea of beating the hell out of their “evil” boss, making this such an enthralling rivalry for almost two full years. And then in 2001, the story twisted in the opposite direction as Austin was willing to “make a deal with the Devil” and accept McMahon’s help in order to win the WWF Championship, forming a strange father/son relationship where Austin did everything in his power to make his “daddy” appreciate him. I loved how Austin’s character changed so drastically, showing the wide range of his interesting persona.
If you could snap your fingers and travel anywhere in the world instantaneously, where would you go and why?
Interesting question. I’d probably have to pick Japan. With Japan being known as a mecca for video games and anime, I’d love to visit and explore to my heart’s content. I’m sure it would be an eye-opening experience for me, to say the least, especially since I haven’t done much traveling in my life. The jump from my daily life to Japan would not only be welcome, but jarring, too!
What are you working on next?
Dawn of the Destined Hero is actually the first third or so of an overly-large book I started writing all those years ago. Over time, I broke the big book into three individual parts, the first of which became my debut novel. I have the next two books written out, but each needs the same “final editing” that the first book received before I wrapped it up in November of last year. As such, I can have the next two books in the trilogy finished and released by the end of the year. Besides the ongoing tale of Arimax Holycross, I also have plans of publishing a few short stories of various genres to help “spread my wings” as a writer.