Class of 2024 scholar Daniel Cano recently published his debut novel, Mercenaries of Destiny. We spoke with Daniel about the writing and publishing process, his inspiration, and his plans for more books in our Scholar Spotlight.
Tell us a little about your writing process. When and where did you write?
I usually like to write when I have all my work done and I have nothing planned for the day ahead. For me, writing can be done anywhere and in any environment, but the best place to write is wherever no one is looking over your shoulder and getting a sneak peek of your work. Most of my work is on a Google Doc which makes it extremely easy to work on my countless revisions.
How long did it take you to write Mercenaries of Destiny, and where did you draw your inspiration?
The book took about six months to write. I started it when I was finishing my freshman year at BVP and I wanted to do something to occupy my time. When I first started the book, I really didn’t have an inspiration since the book was really only a pastime for me. However, as I kept writing, I was influenced mostly by Dungeons and Dragons. The tabletop role-playing game captivated me when I was younger due to its capability to make numerous kinds of stories. Since I am a big fan of fantasy and stories, it was a wonderful thing to come across. I was also influenced by the podcast Critical Role, where a group of voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons. Matt Mercer, the leader of the podcast, was my first introduction to what a professional Dungeons and Dragons game looks like. With his wonderful storytelling and with the help of everyone else on the podcast, I was hooked on writing my own games and playing them with my friends.
It’s a tremendous accomplishment to write a novel, let alone have one published. Describe the publishing processes. What steps did you have to go through to get your book printed and available on Amazon?
The process itself is quite straightforward, contrary to popular belief. My mother helped me find a local publishing group that would review my book. Steven and Dawn Porter, owners of Stillwater Publications, helped me a lot with the process and guided me through it. I would hand them my completed manuscript and I would pay for revisions depending on what I wanted to be checked. I chose for a basic revision to check for grammar and plot holes. After that, they handed me the manuscript back so I could check the revisions and put them into the story. After a couple of payments, my book was edited and ready to be published. That part was also very easy because I could publish with them and have two different ways of getting money. They would do the paperwork to get Amazon to sell my book or I could personally order books to sell on my own.
How did you balance writing a novel with your BVP schoolwork?
I didn’t really balance my work with my leisure since I wasn’t in a hurry to meet deadlines for publishing. I was using my book more as a pastime to relieve stress or get rid of boredom. Now that the book is published however, I’ll be juggling social events and schoolwork instead.
All-time favorite book or author?
I am a big fan of both existentialist philosophy and fantasy novels. If I had to choose from both, my favorite author for philosophy would have to be Fredich Nietzsche. I enjoy his strong use of metaphors and imagery of his ideas about becoming a much better version of oneself. As for fantasy, I haven’t read much but I plan to start The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones.
Are there more novels in your future?
I have an entire series planned out for my book which will consist of five individual books. Once I finish that, I might try to get an animated adaptation of it. I’m a big fan of visual storytelling, but I’m not a very good drawer despite my talents in making stories. Once I have all that finished, I might start a sequel to my first series of books.
Did you know…? November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Writing a novel alone can be difficult, even for seasoned writers. NaNoWriMo helps people of all ages, including students, track progress, set milestones, connect with other writers, and participate in events that are designed to make sure you finish your novel. Check it out here.