Updated: Apr 10
Hello everyone. Today I’m excited to introduce you to M. Doyle, author of the middle grade series, James’s Ragtag Adventures in Questworld. Mike is here to share with us the first book in the series, The Return of the Goblin Queen.
Mike, let’s start with you telling us a little about yourself.
Well, I’m 40 years old, I live in upstate NY with my wife and daughter, and I’m a cable installer by trade. I’ve been writing ever since I was in middle school, mostly short stories of the horror and sci-fi variety. At around 11 or 12 I started really getting into Dungeons and Dragons, and that’s what started my shift from writing horror to writing fantasy.
My writing slowed down a bit during high school and for a few years after graduating, but after a car accident in late 2001—which put me out of work for almost 14 years—my writing really picked up again. During that time, I was writing a lot of stuff that wasn’t necessarily fantasy, but had a lot of fantasy elements to it, and a lot of that stuff became the inspiration for the series I’m writing now.
If I had to describe my writing style, I'm definitely more of a discovery writer than an outliner. So, once I have a very rough idea in my head, I get to writing, letting the characters lead the story wherever it decides to go. Once my characters start to get flushed out more and more, the easier it is to ask, “what would they say/do next?” and then continue writing. Sometimes I even surprise myself at where the story ends up going, because it wasn't anything I had in mind until the characters got up to that point in the story.
The fact that I've started to write everything on my phone using a word app. lets me write wherever and whenever inspiration strikes. I've probably written 90% of my first book and the entirety of my second book just playing with my daughter, who refuses to leave my side when I'm not at work. Once a chapter is finished, I transfer it to the computer where I do the final editing once the whole book is done.
It might sound distracting to some, but I'm way more distracted when I'm on the computer, and if that was my only means of writing, I'd probably never finish anything. I find writing a few lines of dialogue or paragraphs here and there throughout the day is a lot more productive than setting aside a specific time to write.
Kai: Tell us about Return of the Goblin Queen.
Right now, I'm working on a middle grade series called James's Ragtag Adventures in Questworld. The series follows James and his friends Bentley, EJ, Ryry, and Brie, who wake up one morning to find that they have somehow been transported into what they believe is Questworld, an online fantasy game they all used to play after school.
The first book in the series, Return of the Goblin Queen—which was just released on April 7th—introduces James and his friends about a month or so after they were transported into Questworld.
They’ve been using their knowledge of the Questworld game to complete some easy quests and make a bit of money to keep themselves fed and sheltered. It’s not until they decide to take on a quest that's just a little harder than they're used to—which involves stopping a group of goblins from attacking a village—that the real problems begin.
During the quest, they end up accidentally releasing an ancient goblin queen named Vanika, who like any bad guy that’s been trapped for hundreds of years, wants to get her revenge by taking over the world. What makes matters worse, is that there was never a goblin queen anywhere in the Questworld game, nor was there any mention of a Vanika in the games written backstory.
This leaves James and his friends with a lot of questions. Are they really in Questworld? Can they still rely solely on their game knowledge to get by from here on out? And most importantly, how are they going to find and stop an ancient goblin queen they know nothing about?
The series as a whole focuses a lot on friendship and the interactions between James and his friends, as they each have very different ways of dealing with their current situation.
Bentley is more go with the flow, Ryry is easily aggravated, EJ relies a lot on his intellect, Brie is very shy and reserved, and James is extremely unsure about himself and his ability to keep his friends safe.
But despite their vastly different personalities, they always have each other’s backs and are always willing to go above and beyond to keep each other safe while they figure out how to get by in this new world, and ultimately, find a way back home.
You can find Return of the Goblin Queen at the links below, or almost any other bookstore website. You can also go into most bookstores and they can get a copy shipped to the store if online is not an option.
Kai: What inspired you to write this book?
The main inspiration for this series came from some stuff I had written somewhere around 2003-ish. I was out of work for a number of years and one of the things I did to kill time was write in a wrestling efed.
Now if you're unfamiliar about what an efed is, it’s basically the written form of what you’d see on a televised wrestling show, like WWE. You join up as a wrestler, and each week you would write a small story called a role-play about what your wrestler was doing to get ready for his match, and your opponent would do the same. Then, at the end of the week, the owner would write out what happened in those matches, with the winner being the person who he thought had the better role-plays that week.
Now, some people did the traditional, show their wrestler in the ring, talk some smack to their opponent, and that was it. But some of the “better” feds had people who focused a lot more on character development, getting deep into their characters life, their problems, goals, etc.
I met a ton of great writers in these feds, and writing against them each week definitely boosted my own writing skills. Eventually, I joined a tag team with someone, and instead of the more serious, character development stuff, we decided to go way outside the box.
Basically, we would take one aspect of our opponents character, whether it be his size, skills, something he said in his role-play, etc., and use that as a catalyst for having our wrestlers embark on a crazy adventure.
One of us would start the role-play, and the other would continue the story in their own role-play. So, by the end of the week, we each wrote 2 or 3 role-plays that formed one big story. We had a sword that let us travel through time, so that opened up a lot of creativity for us. (We were in a very lenient, supernatural kind of wrestling fed) So if our opponents, let's say, knew karate, we would decide to travel to feudal japan and go fight ninjas, and ultimately end up overthrowing a dynasty or something. Or maybe we'd travel into the post apocalyptic future and fight the wasteland, mad max versions of our opponents. It was just a bunch of way out there stuff that we were coming up with.
Eventually, a few other people started going along with these random adventures, and soon there was a good six or seven of us all interacting with each other, writing off the wall adventures. That basic premise of coming up with a ridiculous plan which ended up getting our wrestlers into a boat load of trouble eventually became the whole basis of the James's Adventures series.
After a few years the efed thing started to die down, but I've kept in touch with a lot of the people I met during those days, and every so often we'd get to talking and reminiscing about all the crazy things we used to write. One day, I was looking over all the half-completed stories I have floating around, and it dawned on me, why not just write something like those random adventures from back in the efed days.
So, I broke down what we did into pretty much two sentences.
1: Make up a stupid plan to accomplish something the characters needed to accomplish.
2: Have said plan go completely off the rails and in turn cause a ton of trouble for the characters.
Now, while the more adult oriented role-plays from the efeds were amusing to those of us within that community at that time, I didn't think it would work as well in a full-fledged, 300 page novel aimed at adults. Doing some more thinking on it, I realized that our wrestlers were basically just big kids, coming up with stupid ideas to amuse themselves. So, I decided that toning down the more adult oriented content, and making the main characters kids, would probably work a lot better.
So, with that in mind, I hopped on the computer and wrote out the basic scene which would set these characters on their journey. That original scene I wrote, just to get a feel for if my idea would actually work, ended up becoming the first three chapters of Return of the Goblin Queen. From there I just kept writing. I had no real direction after that initial scene with the goblins, and a lot of the story just came off the top of my head as I was writing.
About a week later, I had a completed story from start to finish that I was pretty pleased with. It took a couple months of editing, fine tuning, and some re-writes to get it up to where I wanted it to be, but in the end I'm happy with how it turned out and I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I do.
Kai: I know another author with a similar origin story. I love how gaming can inspire creativity in some.
Okay, now let’s have a little fun. We want the readers to get to know the man behind the book. Share with us your top three answers to the following:
Top 3 places you like to write
1: Walking around my yard
2: In bed after I put my daughter to sleep
3: In the car while waiting for my wife to get out of work
Kai: I have to say, I can’t imagine writing on my phone, but I do see the value in being able to write at times like this!
Top 3 foods to snack on while writing
1: Pizza Rolls
2: Potato Chips
3: Devil Dogs
Kai: What are Devil Dogs? I want some! (I hope everybody read that in Elf’s voice)
Top 3 leisure activities
1: Collecting toys and comic books
2: Playing guitar
3: Producing and recording bands in my home studio
Kai: And finally, where can readers connect with you?
At the moment, the only place to connect with me is through Facebook.
I know, I know, I should have a website up and ready by now, but it's in the works and should be ready soon. Until then, feel free to follow me on facebook. I try to make some kind of writing related posts every week or so, and I'm always up for chatting with anyone interested in what I'm doing.
I also have a twitter that I never use but I'm hoping to get around to using that someday, so I'll leave a link for that below as well.
Kai: Thank you for visiting with us today, Mike, and sharing your series with us. Happy writing!