A Foreshadowing of Darkness is one of those novels that you hop into on a whim based on the amazing cover art (by Thea Nicolescu) and dystopian premise, but you leave feeling like you just watched the extended version of a Peter Jackson film. T.B. Wayne‘s book is vivid, the characters are real, and the story will drag you through a range of emotions.
A Foreshadowing of Darkness: The Rise of Arawn, Book One is the inaugural book from brand new writer T.B. Wayne, who says he wrote the entire thing in about 11 weeks. And if that isn’t impressive enough, he already has a good chunk of Book Two written as well. “I started typing on August 7th, 2020, and stopped typing on October 22nd of 2020,” he told me during our interview. “I edited with my team after each chapter, but I took just over a week upon completion and redid a series of edits and published the book on November 1st of 2020.”
The novel takes place in the Pacific Northwest about 1000 years after the Fall of Humanity. The main characters are comprised of a Triad of holy angels, sent out to maintain order in a world over-run by evil. But not all is as it seems in the First Temple of St. Michael and His Holy Army. As veteran Arawn, new blood Mackai, and their Cherub Jannlin discover, the world isn’t as black-and-white as they’d been led to believe.
As with any book review, it’s difficult to stay away from spoilers while expressing thoughts on your favorite parts or the plot twists that really make the book. This is particularly hard with this one. But I thoroughly enjoyed the read and I believe T.B. Wayne did an amazing job bringing life to his characters. And by the end, you really feel like the difficult decisions made by both Arawn and Mackai are completely justifiable. This is especially important leading into Book Two.
I was so impressed with the book that I sat down with T.B. Wayne to discuss Book One and a few of his influences along the way. I was curious about his favorite post-apocalyptic books, movies, and TV shows that got him to write his first novel in the same genre.
“The first book I read, I mean an actual book with over 300 pages, was The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks,” Wayne said. “I drank in that book and the entire multi-layered series. Without giving away any *spoilers* for those who haven’t read it, Terry ties together two seemingly different book series and layers one as the time ‘Pre Apocalypse’ and one becomes ‘Post Apocalypse.’ It was a staggering revelation for me when it became apparent that those two were tied together. The TV series was trash; I hated it so much.
“I’d [also] have to say Mark Lawrence’s series beginning with The Prince Of Thorns. That book made it OK for me to write my book freely and to the level of violent darkness I needed to write it. The first post-apocalyptic movie I recall that made me think, ‘OK, I might like to live in that world’ was the movie The Road Warrior, and as a dad, I loved The Road because I could put myself in his shoes.”
But after all this time stewing over the plot in his head, this year was ripe for spilling it all onto paper. “It was a long-simmering boil, decades in the making, and the COVID pandemic seemed to be the tool that lanced it,” he said.
“I created the principal character in the early ’80s as a character I played in Dungeons & Dragons. He was a lawful evil albino Drow fighter mage who had a Yakuza-like code of honor: Respect that code and you are fine but cross it and he will kill you, your friends, your family, and likely the entire village you came from.
“This was a character created from the angst of a short, bullied kid who moved every two years and had no home or base of friends. I got bullied, but no one would ever bully Arawn. I joined the Marine Corps, and when I got out after my four years, I went to college. A creative writing professor asked me to stay after class one day and when she approached me, she told me how wonderful the assignment I’d written was and that it was so good — amazingly so — it was beyond my ability to write and demanded I tell her whom I’d stolen it from.
“I was furious after three combat tours, being in a class with kids younger than I was and had no concept of the things I’d seen and done. When she approached me with that I just walked away. I quit college; I got promoted at work; I was married, and I just committed myself to those things and stopped writing. I am good at my work — very good. I’m an interrogator and a handwriting analyst. I would put myself in the top 20 percent of my field, but I don’t love it. I’ve always loved telling stories.
“Several small things occurred over the last two years that convinced me I was not doing what I loved. On August 5th, 2020, I saw a show on Netflix talking about villains. I asked myself, ‘Does Sauron know he’s the villain?’ Then I remembered Arawn, and I asked myself, ‘Does Arawn know he is the villain?’ Absolutely not. He would never see himself that way. Right then, I decided I needed to write the origin story of Arawn Mistweaver. I chose a post-apocalyptic setting in the Pacific Northwest as an homage to Terry Brooks, I created my own magic system, and I started typing.”
I got bullied, but no one would ever bully Arawn.
After a story like that, and the remarkably short time it took Wayne to write this first novel, you’d think he’d get it out of his system. Nope! T.B. says that he ultimately plans for six books in this series, with 15 to 20 under his belt in the next five years!
“I intend for the first three books to be a trilogy titled, ‘The Rise of Arawn.’ The second three will be ‘The Fall of Arawn’ and it will take place about 60 years after the end of Book Three. Once this series is done, I have a Shaolin-style martial arts series I want to write, a superhero series I want to write, and then one more D&D-based character I want to explore. I plan on leaving room to continue the Arawn series, but I will keep the secret behind that to myself for now.”
I want the reader to question their own morality and ask themselves if they wouldn’t make the same choices.
I’ve harped on T.B’s characters a few times now, but I really can’t stress that part enough. It’s especially difficult to convince the reader to side with a main character that “turns” into the villain, but with Arawn, he did it. So how does T.B. develop his characters? What is his process?
“I actively plan out their personalities based on my interpretation of them, their age and experience, and their place in the world,” he replied. “Jannlin is a Marine Corps Corporal. She is tough and hard-nosed, but internally she is still new to leading others and is questioning herself. Mackai is a Viking youth. He is ready to fight anyone at any time, but he is young and unsure. Arawn is arrogant in his own intellect and quick to react in anger. He is narrow in focus and often cannot see the bigger picture. On top of this, he is impatient but loyal. He wants results, and he wants them now.
“I would intentionally plan out scenes to reflect these personality traits using either conversation or action scenes to reflect their interior personality and thought process. I need the reader to understand, if not completely empathize, with Arawn and the choices he makes when confronted with some of the evil he encounters. I want the reader to question their own morality and ask themselves if they wouldn’t make the same choices.”
I want to finish this interview by picking T.B.’s brain on the writing process itself. As a brand new novelist, many of his trials and tribulations are fresh, so I wanted to know what type of advice he would have for aspiring writers who may be in a similar situation as he was, stewing over a book idea or two, with no idea of how to proceed.
“My advice would be twofold: 1. Stop trying to be a writer; editors are writers. Be a storyteller and tell your story. Let the editor correct punctuation, change sentence structure, and fix errors. 2. Start now. No, you really need to start now — you will regret hesitating. I wasted 30 years after the professor accused me of plagiarism. I don’t know why I let her stop me; I don’t know why I walked away from what I truly loved doing. Don’t expect your first book to be a masterpiece; you will get better as you go but…GO!”
I want to thank T.B. Wayne for the interview and for giving me an early look at his first novel. You can check out the finished product in either Kindle format or paperback at its Amazon product page. And be sure to enter his contest at Goodreads for a chance to win a signed copy of the book!