Today I’m thrilled to welcome back A.J. Rettger to the blog as we kickoff the Oathbreaker Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour! I’ve had the absolute honor of hosting an interview with A. J. a few months ago where he gave us deeper insight into this Dark Fantasy novel of his (you should definitely give this a read!), and I can’t wait to hear what readers have to say about this one. Stay tuned for some fantastic features from our Roadies – it’s going to be an awesome week.
Whispers & Wonder was crafted as a stage for indie authors to shout about whatever they’d like the world to hear, and it’s always special when an author takes the time to share something highly personal. A. J. stopped by to share his views on the healing nature of creativity and the importance of releasing that creativity into the world, regardless of the demons you’re battling. Keep scrolling to learn more about the book and author, read the beautiful piece A. J. has put together, and enter to win yourself a copy of Oathbreaker!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Oathbreaker. This is what we have going on, so make sure to check out each and every one throughout the week for some brilliant content, including reviews and more.
MAY 9TH – THE KICKOFF
Whispers & Wonder
Beneath A Thousand Skies
Kerri McBookNerd (IG: @kerri_mcbooknerd)
I Can Has Books? (IG: @carrieicanhasbooks)
Fantasy Book Nerd
MAY 15TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more info, visit the official tour page at Storytellers On Tour.
For thousands of years, elves and non-humans alike had lived freely until humans colonized their land and forced them into hiding and subjugation. After years of living as slaves or second-class citizens, the elves rebelled, but their uprising failed, and humans remained victorious.
Mario Deschamps, a new graduate of the Knight’s College, sets off to complete his first deed, an accomplishment that will grant him knighthood and into the ordo equestris. But he has huge boots to fill. His late father, a famous knight and considered the Scourge of Bandits, single-handedly ended the Elven Uprising. Mario’s youthful confidence, vanity, and naivety don’t get him far in the real world, and he quickly finds himself trapped in a political climate where tensions are on the rise and war is inevitable.
In a world filled with monsters, outlaws, bounty hunters, demons, and murderous bandits, Mario is forced to make tough moral decisions. In a world fuelled by violence, hate, and bigotry, things are not as clear cut as he once thought. Lines have been drawn, but to complete his task, he must cross them all. With every choice, the consequences weigh greatly on him, leaving him full of guilt and doubting his path . . . and all the while, in the darkness, someone-or something-is waiting for him to break . . .
A.J. Rettger weaves an epic tale of politics and prejudice, war and depravity, and legacy and destiny in his action-packed debut fantasy Oathbreaker….
The Importance of Creativity
by A. J. Rettger
It’s ten o’clock at night, I just finished a ten-hour shift, and I’m on my third attempt at this. If I drank alcohol or coffee, I’d surely have a cup beside my computer right now. My first attempt was rubbish, my second was meh, so I’m desperately hoping that this is the one. I’m approaching this book feature differently than I did the others. As cheesy as it sounds, I’m going to write from the heart and pour my guts out on the page. So, hold on, it’s going to get bumpy.
I’ve always been the creative type. Ever since I was a young child, I gravitated towards the arts. I loved music (I have a certificate from a private vocational college in music), I loved to draw (even though I’m shit at it), and I loved to play pretend. The act of creating was such a release for me that I felt like I could do anything I wanted and be anything I wanted. Looking back, after countless hours of therapy, I can see that it was an early form of escapism.
Being the “creative” child had its ups and downs. On the one hand, I was able to escape the reality of a hellish childhood full of bullies, exclusion, and social anxiety. Those moments that I could create my own world and grant myself some reprieve were some of the most formative times in my youth. However, creativity also came with a price. My peers always saw me as the “weird kid” growing up. I was bullied for doing well in school, I was bullied for not being good at sports, and I was bullied simply because I didn’t stand up for myself. This constant ridicule forced me to daydream more in order to escape my reality. I soon learned how comforting it was to be alone with my thoughts. Isolation can be so enticing because you have the freedom to do anything you set your mind to. However, as someone who suffers from chronic depression, being alone can also be a living hell.
I am blessed to have a supportive family. I don’t come from a broken home, nor was I impoverished. I have a loving mother and father, grandparents who were basically my second set of parents and a sister who champions me whenever she can. I used to think they just supported me because we were of blood relation, but now, after some clarity, I can say definitively that they do so because they are proud of me. Don’t get me wrong, I still get weird and uncomfortable when they praise me, but I know it comes from a place of genuine admiration. If it wasn’t for my family, I don’t think I’d be as creative as I am today. They encouraged me to chase whatever my wildest dreams were. Whether that be an NFL superstar, a heavy metal musician, a Grammy award-winning record producer, or a humble author, they never seem to run out of support for me, and I am eternally grateful.
However, there are things that even the most supportive family in the world cannot shield you from, things like rejection, vulnerability, feelings of inadequacy, and societal pressures. I’m confident that every person alive has experienced one, if not all, of these things in their lifetime. I believe that as a creative person, these negative stimuli have a more significant impact on you than your left-brain counterparts. It is important to note that the stressors I listed above can be used in one of two ways. The first is that we allow them to weigh us down until they completely erode our self-confidence away until there is nothing left. Or, we can use it as fuel to the fire. Channel those negative feelings and pour them out into your work. By using the creative portion of our brains, we can process our trauma and stressors from something harmful into something empowering and even into something that can help one another.
Let’s pause for a quick story that supports what I’m talking about. I am, by my own volition, a metalhead. I love heavy metal music, and I blare it on my drive to work every god damn day. Most people don’t know that the heavy metal community is one full of trauma and suffering. Many of the artists I listen to started out as kids with pent-up aggression who felt voiceless and powerless in their lives. So, they picked up a guitar or a microphone and poured their heart and soul into their craft, and not giving a flying fuck about what others thought of them. Soon other kids who felt just as voiceless and powerless gravitated towards their music and connected with the artist on a spiritual level because they heard someone who was feeling everything they felt. They were no longer alone. I have been to scores of concerts in my day, and if I had a dollar for every time, someone said, “[Insert band name here] saved my life. If it weren’t for them, I’d be dead.” I could easily retire by now. Art is more than just an expression of oneself. It serves as a way to release the negative feelings that people have bottled up inside in a positive and healthy way. The bonus is that if people are brave enough to share their art, it can positively impact other people’s lives.
When I wrote Oathbreaker, it was just something I was doing for fun. I had no mind to publish it, nor did I ever intend for it to see the light of day. But then, one day, I took a step and asked a stranger on Reddit to review my work. Thankfully, the person I messaged was honest, supportive, and provided constructive criticism. I can now say that the stranger and I have become friends and my life is better for it. Sharing my story with the world and the entire publishing process was scary, nerve-wracking, and exciting all at the same time. Don’t get me wrong; I know not everyone will like my book. In fact, I already have a couple of scathing reviews, but I stand by my work. I stand by it for a single reason. I wrote it for myself. Just like those metal artists I mentioned earlier, I wrote this book to purge negative feelings from my being. It began out of spite as I hated who they cast in a Netflix adaptation of my favourite book. But as I continued writing, I realized I was ridding myself of a lot more than that. I was cleansing myself from all the times I had been bullied as a child, all the times I wasn’t good enough as an adolescent and as a young adult, all the times where I felt like I didn’t belong. All of those negative experiences fuelled me and helped give my characters authenticity. Once I was done writing, I realized that I felt lighter. That I had let go of all the shit, I had been holding on to for the last twenty-four years. I am in a better place now because I decided to share my story with the world.
When I started this author feature, I didn’t know where it would go, but I knew that if I wrote from the heart and was completely transparent in my words, I’d find my way. So if you learn anything from my incoherent ramblings, let it be this. SHARE YOUR STORY! Write that novel riddled with cliché love triangles, or tell that story that is dark and dreary that doesn’t have a happy ending. We need more stories in our lives so that we can heal. Heal not only ourselves but allow others to heal by identifying with our art. Turn your suffering, pain, and trauma into something beautiful, don’t let it fester and weigh you down. What are you waiting for? Start creating.
A.J. Rettger lives on a farm near the small town of Aberdeen Saskatchewan with his dog, Zeke. He has a bachelor’s of education degree, as well as a certificate from a private vocational college. His hobbies include playing Dungeons and Dragons, listening to heavy metal, and reading and writing fantasy books. Oathbreaker is his first book.
Enter to win a copy of Oathbreaker by A. J. Rettger! Grand prize winner gets a signed paperback and three runners-up will take home an ebook!
International! • Ends 5/16
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Oathbreaker tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://www.storytellersontour.online/2021/04/12/tour-schedule-oathbreaker-by-a-j-rettger/) to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to say!