Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Fantasy Books for Kids

AVAILABLE JUNE 5, 2012 | |

Enter the magical world of Alyndoria. A mythical island kingdom filled with a variety of colorful characters and unusual environments. Meet a helpful faery named Periwinkle, a seventy-five foot (give or take) dragon who collects books, an ancient wise mystic woodsmen who communes with the forest animals, a misunderstood not-so-scary bridge troll, a mysterious and beautiful unicorn, ... and three eager young protagonists. A trio of spoiled princes and princesses who think they know it all. But are about to get a lesson they'll never forget. 

Well, hopefully they'll never forget.  

For the future of Alyndoria itself may very well rest on their tiny shoulders. Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself.... that's Book 4.

The ALYNDORIA series of "fantasy" books from Robin Moyer (and me) is designed for parents looking for thought-provoking, yet non-violent chapter books for their young children. 
The moralistic fables are deliberately "old-school" in style and tone. Harking back to a simpler time. Intelligent modern "classics" with absolutely no sense of self-irony or pop culture references. Fun stories set in fantastic landscapes, featuring young characters with universal problems today's kids can identify with. So although the settings may seem fantastic, the character's emotions are completely authentic and all too real.    

Something absent you might not even realize upon your first read.... a villain. Much like real life, these magical tales do not culminate in a violent confrontation to kill anyone or destroy anything. No the modern twist, if there is one, is that they tell stories of very personal journeys that the young protagonists undertake, the obstacles they overcome and the hardships they endure. The stories culminate is self-awareness and lessons learned. For the problem is often within themselves, and the solution is often found on the road less traveled. And as a reader, one's ultimate sense of fulfillment comes from witnessing (and paralleling) their admirable achievements. Each book contains riddles the young reader helps decipher along with the main character.

On June 5th, Wynwidyn Press is proud to present the first three books in the series.
The Crystal Tear, The Golden Flame, and The Emerald Heart. They will be available through their website and wherever books are sold soon after. 
But there's an interesting back story here worth reading...   

Author Robin Moyer (then known as Robin Maglione) wrote Alyndoria in 1985. She found a suitable illustrator in a sixteen year-old high school kid named Darren Wheeling. That was me. I "got" what she was going for and she liked my visualizations of her characters and situations. Due to budgetary considerations the original book (released in 1986) was only published in black and white. It featured all three stories above (now separated and expanded into three stand-alone smaller books) and was called ALYNDORIA: TALES OF INNER MAGIC. It met with some success. We did bookstore signings and it was turned into a cute stage play by Green Hedges Elementary School in Vienna, Virginia. 

But the climate for fantasy works aimed at children was not very conducive in the 1980s. Dungeons and Dragons had many parents worried their children would turn to witchcraft. Yes, really! Now 25 years later, stories of teen wizards (Harry Potter) (and even romantic teen Vampires!) are the biggest franchises in media. Parents gather up their kids and flock to these "event" pictures. Thanks to new techniques in film-making, the fantasy genre is thriving. The culture has changed. The time has finally come for Alyndoria to be embraced, make it's mark and find it's widest audience. So Robin decided to revisit the old story. She tweaked the text a bit, and then new ideas for where the story could go next started to develop. Perhaps Alyndoria had more tales to tell. More surprises to share. 

But if she was to do a sequel she would need it illustrated. Then she wondered what ole Darren was up to. But Robin and I had not had any contact in 25 years. She did not know if I was still alive or if I would be the slightest bit interested in the project. Perhaps I was now a tax accountant somewhere. Or the manager of a miniature golf course with five kids.

Enter that neat little invention... the internet.

She Googles me. Then emails me. Then calls. After a few "how-ya-beens", and "wouldn't-it-be-neats", we realized Alyndoria was destined to be reborn. Because as it turned out, Robin was now working at a book publishing house in Michigan. And I had become a professional free-lance graphic designer (with no social life) in North Carolina. The perfect storm. What are the chances. So  I said, "Yeah, why not?"

We first discussed the sequel, and whether I would be interested in illustrating it. Then we thought we should first re-release the original three stories as they lead into the next plot line. The original book is long out of print so her publishing company would have to re-release it to prime the market for the next adventure. But we both felt that the old black-n-white artwork I did when I was a teen should be redone to match the art for the sequel. So now... I've completely re-illustrated all three stories (and created new covers) leading up to the cool sequel which is coming later this year. It'll be called Alyndoria: The Eternal Seed and is nearly the length of the first three books combined. By the way, I don't recommend to any young authors or illustrators out there to undertake and complete three (or four) books at one time. One is plenty. This boy is tired.

Plus Robin has such complete attachment and devotion to her "baby", that she quit her job at the other publishing house and has finally set up her own publishing company. Something she's wanted to do for years anyway. Now she will personally release the Alyndoria series and many other books (from her and other authors). Her new company is called Wynwidyn Press (named after a central character in The Eternal Seed). She tells her clients it stands for What You Need When I Do Your Novel. Ha ha. So then I designed her new company logo and she's going nuts with constructing this huge tree "growing" through her entire office space. Books and authors are "sprouting" like leaves and fruit all over it. I'm sure she'll post photos on the website when it's ready. 

Interestingly, we've done all the work completely remotely via the web. We still haven't seen each other since 1986. But we plan to do some book signing tours together soon and other promotion. Even this blog entry is something we could not have imagined feasible back in 1986. Marketing has changed so much in the interim years. It's been a fascinating journey for us as creators, to make something people enjoyed. Then move on to other things and let life get in the way. Then out of nowhere, decades later, that same creation returns to it's original creators for Round Two. It stirs up new ideas and wants to reach more people. To grow. I feel Alyndoria is telling Robin and I what to do. Not the other way 'round. And that joint creation has reunited it's creators for it's own purpose. We now joke that those same Green Hedges Elementary School students are now themselves parents and THEIR children are now ready to enter Alyndoria. The next generation awaits. And Robin and I are anxious to see where this journey leads us as well. I hope you enjoy the books. Welcome to ALYNDORIA. And don't be afraid... the dragon is friendly.     


  1. What a wonderful peek into the history of Alyndoria! The return to classic storytelling is great to see and the new covers are so eye catching. I'm looking forward to picking up several sets for my nieces and nephews. I wish you and Robin the best of luck!

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I hope your nieces and nephews enjoy them! ~ Darren

  2. This looks so great! Can't wait to read them all!

    1. Thanks. The very first test run of 100 books featured some spelling errors and are now "collector's items". (ha ha) Not sure if any of those remain for sale. Trying to get the fourth book out sometime in the first half of August. Enjoy!