Growing up in San Francisco, I’ve always been a little bit crazy. Growing up the daughter of two immigrants from two different conservative cultures; I was told that crazy was a bad thing.
My first memory of trying to write for myself was when I wrote a short story about a man who attempts suicide only to be found by his sister. When asked why he did it, he tells her about how his cheating ex-girlfriend broke his heart. I was 12 and, of course, my parents looked at my journal and wanted to know where I had been exposed to such ‘mature’ concepts. Suicide, drugs, and sex; these were all pretty off limits in our house. My sister and I weren’t even allowed to attend funerals (we were deemed not emotionally mature enough to handle such reality.)
But they didn’t have to look far to find the source of my emo energy: movies and video games.
My sister and I were 90s kids and grew up being forced to endure a family movie night. And by family movie night I mean ‘Mom and Dad pick the movie so the siblings don’t end up fighting.’ I was raised with fond memories of everything from ‘Romancing the Stone,’ to ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ and even ‘Robocop.’ From movies I learned the depth of storytelling; anything can be a story if you want it to.
Like most kids, I fell in love with the world of video games. I was never good at the technical aspect (combos, cheat codes, puzzles, tests of endurance, etc.,) but I loved the stories. Unlike movies, video games took storytelling to the extreme with characters and situations that do not always translate into logical scenarios.
What made videogames unique was the fact that you as the player were forced to care about the characters. After all, it was up to you if the fighter made it to the end of the tournament or the teen made it out of the haunted mall. You as the player had the choice, to put in the effort to make it to the end of the story. I bought a lot of walk-through books and begged others to help me beat levels (before the age of people posting the cinematic endings on YouTube.)
My dream was to write something that compelling, so I switched to fan-fiction. For the longest time, I assumed that crazy ideas about passionate love and soul aching pain could only be expressed through characters who already possessed those traits; characters who were already sexy, innocent, emotionally scarred or just insane. And their stories could be taken to another level, to a fantasy world of my own dreams.
In 2016, after a decade of work that can still be found on fanfiction.net, I wrote a novel. I wanted to be the next Fifty Shades of Grey; something so ridiculous, so out there you can’t help but want to know how it all ends.
Like E.L James, I wrote a book that started out as a fan-fiction. She was inspired by the teen vampires of Twilight, a story that is, itself, compelling in its depth of character and universe. Even haters have to admit, Twilight was the first-time vampires sparkled in the sun and it ushered in a new era of love for the supernatural race.
Similarly, my novel started as the story of space marines from the web series Red vs Blue by Rooster Teeth studios. Based on (and in collaboration with) the Halo game series, the long-running series is the cultural epitome of fan-fiction gone mainstream.
In the epic space war saga, Spartans are soldiers who have undergone a very difficult medical procedure to enhance their bodies and minds. Most humans do not survive. A small percentage of those who do are left with illness and deformities. I say ‘small percentage’ because, much like the actual military, no one wants to admit they are different or handicapped in any way.
As a military veteran, I was inspired to write fan stories about the characters; strong, loyal, kind people struggling through their lives. This evolved into me creating original characters such as a medical officer nurse who suffers through an abusive relationship, or a cocky former college athlete who just makes an ass of himself.
Then, as a challenge, I wanted to see if I could write about someone who lived like a soldier; take the qualities of the lead characters and make it relatable to modern life. This created Sean Foster. Inspired by the story of (Red Vs Blue’s) Agent North Dakota, someone who was skilled, talented, but with the weakness of a kind-heart that ended up getting him sacrificed like a pawn. I took the emotional premise of the character: the stress of having to struggle through life, not knowing why he was put on this earth only to suffer physically and emotionally. but through I, all his hardships make him stronger. He is willing to see the world for what it is; life isn’t fair, people change, and no one knows for sure if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s what we’re given.
Sean Foster is an old soul, in that regard. In Dakota Son, he endures and embraces friendships born of heartache. Living with cystic fibrosis his young life is a trial by fire. and the only thing keeping him going is the determination to live like there’s no tomorrow. I originally wanted to call it Possibility Days, after the Counting Crows song.
The idea of life drifting away further drove home the concept of living in the moment; the choices we make are the choices we live with. From making the choice to follow the person you care about halfway across the country, or to simply be brave and put your heart on the line.
Life is full of possibilities. Even if you’ve been dealt a rather shitty hand. Find in yourself the strength of a space marine and march to your destiny.
*Stay tuned for Dakota Son’s sequel in 2019
By Mary Ramsey
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, LGBT Fantasy Fiction
Paperback: 246 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1546233077Buy Now
About the Author
Mary Ramsey is a blogger, artist, and writer. She served in the United States Air Force and has a BA degree in Cinema. Although she was born in California, her work in the military took her all
over the world including the diverse Midwest, from the beautiful landscapes of the Dakotas to
the small towns of Wisconsin.
She has always had a fondness for unique superheroes—underrepresented minorities, LGBTQ,
abuse victims, and so on. She loves an inspiring story that will make her cry. Her favorite movie
will always be 13th Warrior.