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From Pixels to Prose: An Interview with Daniel Varona, author of The Cycle of Eden

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Daniel Varona has been a fan of video games from a very early age and was heavily inspired by some recognizable classics. What piqued his interest in writing was the attention to detail those passionate developers pulled off at the time, no matter the technical limitations. Catching these small details impacted and elevated the storytelling experience for any consumer keen enough, making them understand and think on concepts themselves rather than being told everything point blank. This hobby, along with other creative outlets, brought to fruition Daniel’s desire to write his own story.

You can buy the book here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

For the longest time, the title of my series was simply “Eden,” which is the name of the world in which my novel takes place. A lot is going on with the characters’ backstories, the chaotic political ecosystem, and the rules that bind them, but the core aspect that brings all these unique elements together is that they all exist and make Eden what it is. As I finished the series, the main point of interest to me became the Cycle that has inevitably taken place throughout Eden’s existence. So, the most important part to understand not only for the reader, but also the lesson the heroes learn throughout their journey, is from the Cycle of Eden itself. History is a major component of the series and our own Earth; learning from and growing as a whole through our past actions is important, so understanding the Cycle of Eden allowed me to convey this message. Also, adding “The Cycle of” to the title helped make the series stand out compared to other media titles if I had just simply chosen “Eden.” In terms of The Young Revolution, the title of Book 1, that was rather easy to come up with. The Young Revolution is the main hero, Seth, accepting his denied destiny and managing to meet like-minded people to save a world deemed lost, corrupted by an immoral regime. The title for each part references the focal point of that particular book, the subject that sticks with the reader from beginning to end.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

Atmosphere’s stellar art team literally brought my vision to life after I told them of the idea I had. They did such a fantastic job that seeing the completed book cover of The Young Revolution made me feel like this series could become something even bigger, that it could enter other forms of creative media, which was always a dream of mine. After years of hard work and dedication, I truly did feel accomplished holding the book for the first time. It felt amazing to physically see and feel the number of years I put into this—it made it feel worth it.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

As stated in my author bio, my love for storytelling and character development was most heavily influenced by the video game industry. Like books or movies, video games are a way to convey stories to us that make us feel more involved through the process of controlling what is happening on the screen. In terms of fantasy/role-playing games, they put us in the shoes of heroes and/or villains, connecting us to their worlds, which makes our actions in the story feel more personal and impactful. They are a safe form of escapism, and I wanted to bring that level of immersion and thought to my writing when I started working on The Cycle of Eden.

Final Fantasy (VI, VII, and IX), Metal Gear, and the Earthbound/Mother series are a few heavy hitters that made me fall in love with storytelling. Final Fantasy has some character development masterpieces, Metal Gear makes you consider the grey areas found in our own world with intricate plot lines, and the journeys accomplished in Mother bring out true emotions from the players.

Other media such as movies, manga, and anime were highly influential for my creativity as well. The Young Revolution has been described as a space opera, a term I’ve heard used for Star Wars, which is a classic example of blending fantasy with science fiction. Star Wars blends spiritual ideologies such as “The Force” with spaceships and aliens similar to how the “Light and Darkness” influence my Cycle of Eden series. Dragon Ball’s fast-paced action sequences left quite an impression on me, along with the humorous dialogue and comfort of making bizarre rules found only in Eden’s world.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The most rewarding part of publishing my first novel was the amount of support I received from my family and friends. For so many years, I’ve kept my writing close to my chest. It was only recently, when I announced the publication of The Young Revolution, that most in my circle found out, and it was a huge relief to finally make it public.

The most meaningful part has been any words expressed by my friends or family that previously had no idea I was a writer. Feedback from my mother especially warms my soul because I’ve dedicated this series to her as a thank-you for all she’s done for me. Any moment she resonates with Eve—the moon who shows love to Eden no matter how dark it gets—is all I ever wanted.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

I actually used music as a tool to bring out many different kinds of emotions throughout my series. Using music as a strategy to get yourself in a certain headspace is a tip I’d give any writer stuck on a particular scene. There have been many times I’ve used specific tracks to push ideas further to help my readers feel scenes more accurately by putting myself in that zone emotionally/mentally.

Most of the time I used a variety of video game soundtracks for ambiance and mood, but there were also characters originally molded/inspired by songs. I related Seth to And the Hero Will Drown by Story of the Year and I related Duo to Kill the Sound by Celldweller. Both are rock songs that fit well with the action scenes in the series.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

There are many positive messages that relate to our own world that I hope my readers take away from The Cycle of Eden. In many ways, Eden is obviously a representation of our own Earth and the moral dilemmas we as humans put it through. A major lesson in The Young Revolution is “…the best way to find kindness is by sharing your own.” No matter how dark and lonely the world feels, kindness will always be what unifies us, for we all seek and deserve it. In general, the major message I discuss as the series goes on is the importance of history. As long as we learn from our past mistakes, the hope for changing for the betterment of the world will always exist.

There are a lot of vague hints I drop at the start of the series, especially in Book 1 and 2, that readers aren’t supposed to understand until they finish the series or read through it again. I love the moments in storytelling where I go back and notice/recognize an aspect I didn’t or couldn’t realize before. Those moments of “Ohhhh, that’s why this was written” or “Ohhhh, the author was referencing this the entire time!” are both rewarding for the readers and the author. Figuring out the deep lore or mysteries is part of the fun, and my perfect reader would be someone that manages to put all the puzzle pieces of Eden and its characters together.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I am constantly finding ways to improve the next three parts of The Cycle of Eden. I want the next parts of the series to feel rewarding for my readers as they continue on this journey of discovery. I will be starting the publication process of Book 2 very soon.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

Working with Atmosphere Press always felt too good to be true. They are accommodating, respectful, professional, and very good at every single part of their job. Also, they will continue to be a huge help even after your book is published! For people like me who did not have the most extensive background in writing, they truly made me feel welcomed and treated me like an equal. I would tell anyone who was on the fence about self-publishing or finding a publisher to send their work to Atmosphere immediately. You won’t regret it.

You can buy the book here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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