Rise of the Red Harbinger
The Drowned Realm Series
Publisher: Open Door Publications
Date of Publication: June 6, 2016
Number of pages: Around 400
Word Count: 180,000
Cover Artist: Genevieve LaVo Cosdon, LaVo Design
Thousands of years ago, the realm of Ashur was drowned by Darian, Harbinger of the god Orijin, to save it from the evil Red Harbinger, Jahmash. But the prophecies say Jahmash will return—and only Darian’s chosen Descendants, those who bear a black line on their face, can save mankind.
Baltaszar: An untried lad from a hidden village. He must find the House of Darian to learn how to use his mysterious powers.
Marshall: The last of a race of warriors slaughtered by Jahmash’s army. Will the other Descendants help him avenge his family and his race?
Prince Garrison: He spent years following his father, the king’s orders to kill all who bear the mark of Darian—even though he bears it himself. Can the other Descendants accept him? Or will they kill him?
Time is running short for the Descendants. Hunted by the people they are supposed to protect, can they save Ashur from its greatest threat: The Red Harbinger?
About the Author:
Khalid Uddin’s credits his creative beginnings to comic books, specifically “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “X-Men”. Throughout middle school and high school, his predominant hobby was drawing his favorite characters, original characters, and just about everything that was put in front of him. Once his college roommate introduced Khalid to Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” book series (later completed by Brandon Sanderson), his imagination evolved. He had already been familiar with Tolkien’s vivid world, but Jordan’s was something new and far grander. Khalid saw the beginnings of his own fantasy world coming to life, thanks to these authors and to many of his own coming of age experiences.
When his head is not stuck in the fantasy world, Khalid spends his free time with his wife Jen and adorable one year-old daughter, Emme, who have both been incredibly generous with giving him time to write and finish his novel. He makes a living with literature, being a high school English teacher in New Jersey.
Khalid regularly posts updates and news about his novel and the writing process on his website, www.khaliduddin.com
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in New Jersey, and have lived here all of my life.
Tell us your latest news?
My first novel, Rise of the Red Harbinger, just came out this week. It’s a project I’ve been working on for about six years now and I’m thrilled to share it with the world. So much of me went into this story that it feels cathartic to have finished it. It’s a fantasy adventure novel and the first of four books in the series.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing during college mostly as a way to dump my emotions. I really only wrote poetry at the time and it was usually pretty cliché stuff, with overused metaphors and basic rhymes. It was usually about girls and relationship problems. It served its purpose at the time, though, so I suppose that’s what matters. One thing that has been consistent since I’ve started writing is that it’s always been a way to decompress. I tend to bottle up stress and emotions and it always comes out through writing, whether it’s poetry, a journal entry, a rant, or a part of the book.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t think I really thought of myself as a writer until my second Creative Writing course in college. I had a professor, Dr. Rich, who helped me develop my writing skills exponentially. I gained new insight on writing poetry and she even helped me hone skills in writing short plays and nonfiction. She was so great that I took her again for Poetry Writing and I audited her Creative Writing course as a model for the course I wanted to teach in high school.
What inspired you to write your first book?
It was a combination of reading great writers and the strong friendships I maintained through college. I read Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series throughout college and the Lord of the Rings films came out around that time. Between imagining Jordan’s world and seeing Tolkein’s come to life, I knew that I wanted to do the same thing.
Along with that, my closest friends were the ones who were always pushing me forward in college every time I stumbled, and boy did I stumble often. They’ve always believed in me, while being brutally honest, and they were the inspiration for most of the main characters. My real world and my fictional world wouldn’t be possible without them.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Well, I used to. When I strictly wrote poetry, I always focused on the metaphor and trying to sound melodic, while also being concise. However, that doesn’t necessarily work when writing a novel, because you need to be more straightforward in telling a long story. At least I need to be, anyway.
To be honest, I think my writing style changed throughout the novel, depending on which point of view I was using. In this novel, there are about eight or nine points of view, and my goal was to make each distinct. I’m a very visual person and I love watching movies, so I think much of the time, I write in a way that makes it easy to picture what I’m describing.
How did you come up with the title?
There were a few iterations, but I finally decided on Rise of the Red Harbinger because it had more power and action behind it. The “Red Harbinger” is the main villain throughout this series, and that’s the biggest conflict driving this story, so it made sense to let him be the focus.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The main theme is that there’s no real black and white in real life. Villains can be sympathetic and heroes can have their dark moments. I wanted to reflect that in my story so that at times, readers might even be rooting for the bad guy and denouncing the good guy. I love when stories are brave enough to let the bad guy win at the end. I haven’t actually decided if that will happen at the end of this series, but I haven’t ruled it out.
How much of the book is realistic?
The story itself is not. Since it’s a fantasy novel, there’s magic involved and I created the world as well. However, the personalities are quite real and so are some of the situations. I also based much of the world on real ideas. Religion in the book is compilation of real religions, ideologies, myths, and some original ideas. The geography and culture were also inspired by this world and our history. So while some ideas will seem familiar, much of it will be fresh and original.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of the experiences are based on real events, but I didn’t want to put too much of my life into it. It sounds weird, but I felt that it would be too contrived and unfair to my characters to do that. There are a lot of times while you’re writing and you just let your characters’ personalities dictate where the story is headed. I worked certain things in so I could build off of them, but I didn’t want the story to be all me.
What books have most influenced your life most?
The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time were big, because they introduced me to fantasy, as I said before. But it was actually Harry Potter that had the biggest influence. Magic aside, that series spoke to the outcast, dork, nerd, and underdog in all of us. More than just with writing, the Harry Potter series empowered me to feel more confident in being different. I was so addicted to it that I used to read the books everywhere, even at red lights on my way to college classes. I've never been more proud to be a fan of something than with Harry Potter.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would say Brandon Sanderson. He writes quite a few fantasy series, but I learned the most from him when he took over the Wheel of Time series after Jordan passed away. It was a thirteen book series and I think Jordan wrote about nine or ten. But Jordan’s last one or two had started to drag and it was Sanderson that revived it with his writing style.
I read that he’d carried out Jordan’s vision pretty much entirely, but he admitted to creating a few original characters of his own. Those characters of his were some of my favorite to read; there was a richness to them that made it so much fun to read. Having been exposed to his style, I wanted to be able to do what Sanderson does. He’s also an awesome guy and very personable. I spoke to him briefly once and follow him on Twitter. He randomly signs his books at airport book stores and puts them back on the shelves. I find that to be such a cool thing to do.
What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading Morning Star, by Pierce Brown. It’s the third of a sci-fi trilogy that so well written, that I can’t fathom how much time it must have taken him to create his world (well, solar system, actually). I had to take a break from it to work on my own release, but I can’t wait to pick it up again. Pierce Brown’s style is everything fiction is supposed to be.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Pierce Brown, the author I mentioned above, is relatively new on the worldwide scene. I think he’s been writing for a while, but I think he’s going to be the next big thing. I would definitely go see movies based on his books.
What are your current projects?
Now that my first book is out, I’m outlining the sequel, which is tentatively titled, The Ghosts of Ashur. I’m hoping that I can finish it by next summer if I start soon, but I anticipate it to be a bigger book than Rise of the Red Harbinger, so that might be wishful thinking.
What would you like my readers to know?
You don’t have to be a fan of fantasy to enjoy my book. Although it involves magic, the engine of the story is really my characters. Their problems and obstacles are real, relatable, and universal, no matter what world a person lives in. The magic is more of a secondary aspect for the characters to deal with. Anyone can appreciate and enjoy the story.