Tyrell Johnson grew up reading his older brother’s fantasy novels.
But when trying to write a fantasy novel of his own, the format didn’t quite fit.
“When I was getting my master’s of fine arts degree in creative writing I was attempting to write these fantasy novels and it wasn’t quite working out,” said the 30-year-old Kelowna resident.
Johnson’s first novel, The Wolves of Winter, is set in a post-apocalyptic world. A young woman and her family survive in the Yukon, wondering if they are the only humans left on earth.
The novel was released Jan. 2 with a signing scheduled for Jan 6. from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Mosaic Books downtown.
After turning to the post-apocalyptic genre, Johnson found he could create his own worlds while keeping his voice in the present tense.
“Maybe there’s something romantic about not having (materials) and finding each other again outside of all the technology,” he said.
Moving around B.C. and the US could have had an influence on his draw to the genre.
“Maybe it’s every time we moved so often, I look at the stuff and say ‘just get rid of it all, I don’t want to lift it again,'” he laughed. Johnson lived in Kelowna before, then moved back to Washington and then to Langley before settling in Kelowna again.
He immersed himself in the genre for his book by reading Station Eleven, the works of Margaret Atwood and Dog Stars.
He compiled the first draft for the book in four months, working at his mother-in-law’s office in a horse barn as he juggled freelancing, writing the novel and family life with his wife and two children.
“I sort of write obsessively and I have to get it all down on paper. If I’m excited about an idea I want to write about it and use that excitement and momentum,” said Johnson.
Ideas for characters came from his own mind.
“It’s sort of a conglomeration of people I know and people I’ve read, I wasn’t too worried about what came before, I didn’t want to get bogged down about what came before,” he said. “But there are definitely elements of my novel that people compare to the Hunger Games which I’m fine with.”
Writing in the barn also allowed for peace and quiet “unless the donkey starts acting up, then it gets kind of loud,” he said. “If I’m in the house and the kids know I’m in the house it gets chaotic for everyone.”
While the draft only took a number of months, preparing for publication was a two-year process. Johnson’s goal was to write the best book he could.
The author hails from Bellingham, Washington and has a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California.
The novel can possibly be turned into a series, he said, but also works well as a stand-alone.