BY JOSEPH TROCHEZ Staff Writer
It starts with a young man, Dayraven, exiled from his home, and it concludes with him becoming something new and unexpected. He finds himself in lands rampant with turmoil where he meets people who reshape his outlook.
Dr. Philip Chase, an associate professor at County College of Morris, has completed the first two books of his epic fantasy trilogy. He said his agent Simon Lipskar who works at Writer’s House is currently shipping “The New Way of Edan” and “The Prophet of Edan” to publishers.
The English professor teaches Composition 1, Composition 2 and English Classics. He shares an office with associate professor of philosophy Dr. Kenneth Shouler.
“He is an outstanding professor,” Shouler stated in an email. “I often see him talking about writing assignments with students, providing excellent advice for them.”
In spring 2015, Chase will teach a new fantasy novel course that will include “Game of Thrones,” “The Hobbit” and “American Gods.”
Chase said his new class will cover several fantasy sub-genres, but his true passion for fantasy lies within epic fantasy.
He said he loves how fantasy takes the reader on a journey. War is usually involved with loyalties up for grabs, but what makes any kind of literature worth reading is human conflict.
“[William] Faulkner is famous for saying ‘The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself,’” Chase said.
Chase said he believes fantasy shows the internal struggle of its characters in a realistic way more than other “realistic” genres.
He said the best fantasy novels provoke thought and self-reflection. He wanted to write an entertaining book, but also one that says something about this world.
The writer said he had some views on religion that he wanted to share, including how people use it, resist it and its function. “It makes you think about what you are reading,” liberal arts major Timothy Oswald Richards said about epic fantasy. “It stays with you when it has other layers to it.”
Richards said he is looking forward to having his thoughts provoked by “The New Way of Edan.”
“I definitely love me some epic fan- tasy,” Richards said.
The third book, “Return to Edan,” working title, has already been outlined and the novelist knows how his trilogy ends.
“I’m the architect type of writer,”
Chase said. “As opposed to the gardener who just throws a bunch of seeds out, lets them grow and sees what happens.”
The fantasy buff is methodical about his writing. The first objective he completed was to draw a map of Eormenlond, the fictional kingdom in his book, in order to get the geography down. Then he fleshed out his world.
He said he wrote out a history of Eormenlond thousands of years ago; prior to the story transpiring in his books. He wrote down notes about Eormenlond’s different religions, politics and cultures. For the writer, world building is essential to fantasy novels.
“One reason why people read fantasy is to be immersed in the world,” Chase said.
“In order for it to be convincing, you have to do some real thorough building.” Chase said aspiring writers should write from the heart; writers shouldn’t be opposed to taking classes about writing or reading books that help them with writing. He is reading “Writing Fiction – a Guide to Narrative Craft” by Janet Burroway and said he has learned quite a bit from the book.
Chase has a simple, but thoughtful approach to what it takes to finish a novel. He said getting that first word on the page is like trying to start a rusted engine.
“You have to go back and revise and revise,” Chase said. “You have to be humble because at some point you’ll get an agent. He’s going to read your stuff, and he’s going to tell you to change this and that.”
The stubborn writer said he revised “The New Way of Edan” at least 20 times with plans to revise it again over the summer. His office buddy can attest to this.
“Professor Chase persists in his writing as few have,” Shouler stated. “He has written and rewritten his fantasy manuscript many times.”
He said revising is his favorite part of the writing process. The hardest part for him is getting that first draft done. He compared writing with sculpting a human figure out of clay.
“You are going to slap big wads of clay until you have something that roughly resembles the human figure,” Chase said. “You start chiseling in finer features, and you start craving away a little piece here, a little bit there, until you form it. You make the nose just right; you put a little wrinkle under the eye; you keep adding these details.”
Chase said when writing, a writer should strive to get the basic plot on paper. Then later the writer can tinker away at fleshing out the world and its characters.