I recently met an author with a lot of the same interests in a lot of the branches of nerd culture that I was a fan of. Steven Seril has written a massively epic sci-fi fantasy called The Destroyer of Worlds: “An Answer to Every Question” that is amassing a very devoted following. Part of that is certainly due to Seril’s infectiously pleasant personality, as well as his dedication to his craft. Read on to find out more about this author and his growing popularity.
Tellest: Hi there Steven! Thank you very much for taking some time to chat with me. With all the things that you work on, from your weightlifting, to your chess matches, to your incredible storytelling, finding some free time must be a challenge all on its own! There’s a huge amount to talk about, so if you’re ready, let’s dive in.
Steven Seril: Hello, Mike! Speaking to you was so awesome the other day. We’re a lot alike—we’re both SUPER NERDS! This novel was written for super nerds! I am actually a janitor now. It’s a lot of physical work, usually during the graveyard hours. There’s something very romantic about the idea of a janitor becoming a best-selling author or championship athlete!
T: It’s very Good Will Hunting! What kind of other roles or jobs have you had in the past? Did the switch to janitorial work make life easier for you to pursue your passions, or more difficult?
SS: Being a janitor gave me a little more flexibility to have time to write. It’s not a standard 9-5 job, though the hours end up being more irregular. I can still find time to write. I am a workaholic, and many at work thought I’d never take a day off. I take “hours” off. And it was in those hours that I could write.
T: As your book continues to pick up the pace and attract new readers, do you see yourself looking for more time to write, or are you going to keep your nose to the grindstone with the day job?
SS: I know a lot of things but I can’t tell the future. I just know that I’d like to make a good income from this book if possible. I’d like it to take off and have legs and wings of its own. At the same time, I’m not afraid of work. I like working. It’s very rewarding as well.
T: The reason that you and I connected was because you’ve recently published an awesome book, The Destroyer of Worlds: “An Answer to Every Question”. Let’s start off by learning a little more about that. In your own worlds, how would you describe this book to someone who didn’t know about you or your work?
SS: In professional wrestling terms, I guess you’d say:
“Technologically advanced ALIEN DINOSAURS vs. magical SPACE DRAGONS with interference from mythological gods, goddesses, angels, and demons!”
It’s like an overbooked match! It’s like battle royal!
T: Or a royal rumble! Throughout your book, you look at a few of the mythological figures in the world that they’re a part of. We’re toeing a very thin line without spoiling anything, so you can feel free to duck this question if you want to, but were there any characters who were incapacitated earlier on who you think might have been able to make a huge difference later on in the story?
SS: Let me say this: when you’re exploring an “infinite universes” scenario, you have the opportunity to show a lot of “what if?” scenarios through divergent timelines.
T: Those what-if scenarios would make for an awesome side project or prequel material. That could be right up your alley if you’re looking for a loss leader to drive even more eyes to your projects. Just saying.
SS: I agree. I did want to emphasize that this book begins perfectly and ends perfectly. It’s a self-contained masterpiece in that regard. I don’t want to mess too much with that. That’s actually why there’s no “about the author” or “leave a review” nonsense after that last sentence. When it ends, it ends. It ends perfectly.
Although… there is one “plot-hole” that some readers may discover that I actually know the answer to. I have thought about doing a short spin-off or just adding the new section.
T: The Destroyer of Worlds has had a tumultuous journey from inception to publication. It’s been a labor of love for two decades. What were some of the challenges you found in working on it, and how did you navigate them?
SS: Wow! You really researched & read all that, Mike! Yes, it was a tough 20+ year journey to finish this book. Multiple storms, earthquakes, and floods threatened or ruined copies of the book. Drafts or chunks of drafts were lost when my university wiped the data of its alumni unexpectedly or when my computers crashed or overheated. There were parts that were on 1.44 MB floppy disks or saved on a Dell Opti-plex GX-100 with 256 MB RAM!
Above all of that was one thing: fear. The fear of what others would think. The fear of criticism. The fear of rejection. I rewrote sections over and over and over again because they weren’t “perfect”, or I feared people would hate them. In the end, I had to get over that, put my foot down, and say, “this is my novel and my story, and I’m gonna tell it the way I feel fit.”
T: How did you convince yourself to keep going on when drafts were lost, or when you had found that so much of your work had been compromised?
SS: I remember waking up one morning and finding out that the University of Hawaii had wiped all of its old data without informing me or the other alumni first. It was devastating. I had to salvage bits and pieces from flash drives and old e-mails to accounts I rarely used. It gave me an opportunity to rethink, rewrite, and rebuild. I think I made something even better because of it!
T: Your book features a great deal of mythological characters that people will no doubt be at least tangentially familiar with. How did you go about finding the right voice for these characters?
SS: Awesome question! It’s about taking myself out of me and into the shoes and minds of the characters. I want to invite viewers to check out the audiobook demo we did featuring five mythological gods/goddesses played by three award-winning actors and two influencers! One of them (MasakoX) has been heard by over 2 billion people on Dragon Ball Z Abridged & Death Battle by ScrewAttack! I hope you hear just how unique and distinct each character in this book is!
Video Link: https://www.facebook.com/100776895189945/videos/453949792296205
T: What version of your book would you recommend to readers? Is it the eBook, the paperback, or the upcoming audiobook?
SS: The eBook helps my best-seller ranking the most because I typically sell a lot more of them, but the paperback is a thing of beauty. Everyone who sees it and holds it in their hands smiles for joy talking about how big and beautiful it is! I ask that you get whichever version is convenient for you and please leave an honest review, that helps a lot! As for the audiobook, it is still a ways away, unfortunately. It would be an expensive and time-consuming project of its own!
T: You and I briefly talked about your inspirations in our introductory chat a while back. You’ve got a lot of interesting games and films that no doubt helped to shape the multiverse you’ve shaped here. When it came to wanting to write about it, what storytellers inspired you?
SS: I feel like immediately saying “George Lucas” right off the bat. That man has taken so much flack (following the prequels) and faced so much rejection to begin with, and he became one of the biggest names in the history of storytelling.
Others who inspired me are Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear), Richard Garriott (Ultima), Hironobu Sakaguchi & Yoshinori Kitase (Final Fantasy VII), Steven Moffat (modern Doctor Who), Phil Vischer (Veggie Tales), Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon); darn it, let’s add Vince McMahon and Vince Russo to that (pro wrestling)! These people were willing to create things that I bet raised a lot of eyebrows and garnered a lot of doubt, criticism, and rejection. But they stuck to their vision and made things happen!
T: In our earlier discussions, you mentioned that you even chatted with some of your heroes. Did any of them give you any good advice, or tell you anything particularly memorable?
SS: Well, I chatted with Richard Garriott a while back about feeling anxious about writing dialogue for the character Thor and about writing a story that seemed “different” in general. When Richard Garriott was in his prime, the Internet really wasn’t a thing. There were a lot less “rules.” There were a lot less people out to criticize and tear down your work, or to get it taken down for something that offended them in some way. So, he just went with the punches. He did his thing. He didn’t concern himself with those worries about what others would think. In fact, when people eventually told him that his work was too graphic and violent, it only made him feel like making it more graphic and more violent because he saw it got a strong reaction.
T: It seems like people love your book! Just doing a little bit of research online you’ve got tons of people—including those with some degree of fame—posing with your book and singing its praises. How do you think you arrived at such a positive reaction for your tale?
SS: I feel that it’s because my book is so radical, so different, and so special. People are so tired of the same old stories and the same old boring human and humanoid characters doing boring human things. Here’s a story starring ALIEN DINOSAURS and an army of SPACE DRAGONS! It’s so big, so grand, so over-the-top. People love it.
Another thing is just that my heart as an author is in the right place, and they see that. A portion of profits go to charities like the World Literacy Foundation (I’m also working to bring in the Cancer Research Institute and Lauren’s Promise). Also, the book is such a great bargain for the customer: you get 500 beautiful pages for $11.64 or just $0.99 for the eBook. It wasn’t about ripping people off or making a ton of money, it was about telling a good story to as many people as physically possible! This is why I sell so many copies.
So Amy Jo Johnson (the original Pink Power Ranger) was willing to get it as well as Trisha Hershberger (SourceFed/Smosh), MasakoX (Team Four Star), Rob Jefferson (Comics Explained), Stephanie Burton (“CutiePie” on YouTube), KrimsonRogue; both John Eric Bentley and Bennett the Sage (though both say they can’t endorse it until they read it), Justin Silverman (Cinnemassacre), Kendra Dantes (2x Sacramento’s Got Talent Winner), David Roy Banks (actor), and more!
T: With your debut book taking up so much of your life, it must be insane to think of another tale ready to start churning in your mind, but I’m sure folks will be interested to know: do you have any plans for any more stories, or are you going to take a break after Destroyer?
SS: There are so many great characters in the novel that could have their own spinoff story! What helps is that it is one of those stories with “infinite universes” or “infinite possibilities” but for now, I want to focus on this novel. It’s gold!
T: There are a lot of established characters from mythology and religion in your book, but you’ve also got characters that you have introduced from scratch. Which ones are your favorite?
AZURE is a T-Rex and possibly the most powerful character in the history of fiction! I don’t know if it gets more awesome than that!
NEELA is a pink Ceratosaurus with a spunky and fierce attitude. She is incredibly relatable.
AIN is the “Mother of All Dragons” and death itself!
DEEM is a dragon general with a conscience. He is in love with the dragon princess, Darna. People will love Deem’s story.
T: Alright, we’re here to talk about The Destroyer of Worlds, but people will also no doubt be interested to learn more about Steven Seril the person as well. You’ve led an interesting life yourself, and there’s likely a lot to talk about here. I’ll let you drive the story a little bit, since there are few different ways we could go. But we could start with anything you like, from your weightlifting or your chess matches, to the games you play that have inspired your work, to the adorable story of how you met your wife.
SS: I have to thank God for helping me be the person I am today. In 2016, I was in a terrible situation. I was alone. Completely alone. I’d been hit by a car in May and left for dead. I lost my memories for a while and couldn’t move well on the right side (the side that had struck the road). Half of my face was wrecked. 3 weeks into recovery, my girlfriend of 5 years connected with a guy in another city and ran off with him, leaving me high and dry. I was left for dead by a driver I never knew, then left for dead by the person I thought was my life partner. I rebuilt myself. I went to the gym, became a powerlifter, and won competition after competition. I even had a 1st-place finish in the IPL World Cup and set the state’s first drug-tested deadlift record in 2017!
Then, I met my wife, Diana, on one fateful day when my bus and train went on detour. I found out she lived down the street. And that was the beginning of that. She’s a gorgeous nurse from Turkmenistan. We married in 2018. Now, in 2021, I am a best-selling author and on track to be an award-winning author very soon. I believe in myself, my book, and my work. I think it should be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. It serves as an allegory for a lot of contemporary American issues like racial division, poverty, the military-industrial complex, Big Tech, and surveillance. If the judges read it from beginning to end, it should win.
T: Where can people find out more about your book and the world you’re building?
SS: Visit Facebook.com/authorstevenseril and check out all the book-related art, videos, and even music! Or, follow me at @StevenSeril on Twitter for updates! I appreciate all of you. I’ve been so blessed and honored for this opportunity to share my work with you!
I want to thank Steven for taking the time to drop by and give us more information about his world, and of course, about The Destroyer of Worlds: “An Answer to Every Question”. Over the course of the interview, the book was nominated for an International Book Award, and it was also featured by Hack the Movies, the sister channel of Cinnemassacre (run by the Angry Video Game Nerd). Tons of people are enjoying the book, so why not head out there and dig up more about it? Pick up The Destroyer of Worlds: “An Answer to Every Question” on Amazon today!