I have been a fantasy fan since I was born. I've been writing fantasy since fourth grade and cut my teeth on authors like Brian Jacques and Stephen R. Donaldson. In high school I found a more unusual muse: role playing games. Crack open the handbook to Dungeons and Dragons and they have whole chapters on how to build your own world and create conflict with interesting antagonists.
Then in college fortune struck another unorthodox blow. I was afflicted with a particularly debilitating case of respiratory flu and was unable to speak for ten days straight. I couldn't go to class, couldn't see my friends, and was largely confined to quarters, quarantined for the good of others. Under these oppressive conditions I received the inspiration to write a novel. I had the characters floating around in my head, many with corresponding character sheets. So I drew up an outline of the first four chapters and set to work, uncertain if I would even have the will to finish, or if the phase would pass with the disease.
Low and behold, this was the start of Apprentice of the Rain. I finished the first draft in 2000, figuring at best I'd print out ten copies to give to my friends. Fortunately I got enough positive feedback from professors and other writers to convince me that this indeed was worthy of publishing. Eventually I restarted the whole project, from scratch, this time with much higher goals in mind.
Along the way I wrote a short story called “The Necromancer's Deception” and put it on Smashwords for free: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/348825