DJ LeJeune sends his readers on near and far future Science Fiction adventures, blended with a dash of thriller and a lot of character. Grand Prize winner for the Summer 2020 Writing Contest at Short Fiction Break, he minored in Creative Writing in college, and is finally using that forgotten degree.
Tell us about your book Path of Relics.
Sure! Path of Relics is a near-future science fiction / LitRPG Lite novel about Terry, a down-on-his-luck guy in a job-starved future. Terry loves to play video games and is shocked when he gets the chance to place the game of his dreams and get paid for it.
And this game is a real-as-life, virtual reality world, where he discovers lost civilizations, fights creatures, and solves mysteries. But as he’s playing, he realizes events in the game are causing malfunctions in real-world Manhattan, and it’s killing people.
It’s like a mash-up of Ready Player One, Lord of the Rings, and Indiana Jones.
Your website states that you’re at work on book two in the series. How far along is it? Do you have a target date for publication?
I’ve finished the first draft of book two, and currently working on revision. My target date for publication is end of 2023.
What drew to you write a LitRPG Lite / Gamelit adventure?
Two things, mainly. My love of video games, and my love of technology. From an early age, I’ve enjoyed playing video games, including RPGs like old-school Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy (I mean like… FF 1 and 2!). So the chance to create a game world, one that was as real as our own, excited me.
Also, I follow technology and science advancements daily. So things like virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and more intrigue me. Path of Relics was my opportunity to bring all of those elements together.
Most importantly, I wanted to tell a story involving a game, but with clear life and death stakes in the real world. For me, if the stakes are just… well you lose the game and that’s the worse that can happen… that’s not engaging. In Path of Relics, losing the game at first means dire repercussions for the main character, and as the story progresses, those stakes become catastrophic for millions of lives.
When you write a story, where do you start? Character, plot, setting, other?
Plot, I suppose. The big idea of the story has to be interesting to me. I love stories because they let you experience the impossible. So once I feel I have a story that takes me to interesting places (and therefore my readers too), AND that it has some good conflict and reasoning, then I’m off. I come up with characters and settings to service that idea.
How much time do you spend writing compared to marketing? Do you feel that is the right balance for you?
So far, writing has taken up more time compared to marketing, but I see that shifting. Since I only have one novel out so far (and working on the sequel), I’m still learning a lot about marketing. So for the past few months, I’ve been heavily focused on getting the word out about Path of Relics.
The thing is, marketing is an ongoing process. Even when I’m writing my third and fourth series of books, I’ll still be marketing Path of Relics and its sequels. So in that sense, I’ll always be marketing.
But I imagine once I have a better handle on promotion, I’ll have shortcuts and processes to make things more efficient. So in the end, maybe writing will take up more time. Ask me again in a couple of years, haha.
Do you have a specific place/time/routine to your writing? Do you have a strange writing quirk?
I write in the morning before work, usually from about 7:30 am to about 10 am. My “office” is a desk in our guest room. Not really a quirk, but hot, black coffee is a necessity.
What is the best advice you ever received as a writer?
Give it the time it needs. For most authors, gaining traction and a readership will take time. It’ll take several novels, not just one. I heard that advice early on, even though I didn’t want to listen. I wanted my first novel to be the one that broke that mold and catapulted me to literary superstardom.
Is that possible? Maybe, although even the stories you hear of that aren’t often what they seem. A “first-time” superstar is many times a seasoned author who started over under a pen name. Or the “natural” who knocked it out of the park first time has been writing for years on a blog or something, but never “officially” published.
Understanding that for most authors, this process will take a while, is helpful. You just know going in that’s the process. Go through the process, and you’ll very likely see success like you’re dreaming about. Having unrealistic expectations can cause would-be authors to give up too soon.
If money weren’t an issue, what would you do with the rest of your life?
Yeah, totally I’d keep writing. I mean, I get to flesh out and explore the places and situations of my dreams. How many times have you wished someone would write a story that just doesn’t exist? As an author, I get to do that for myself, and any others who might also be interested. Even if I had all the money I needed, that would still be a blast!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I hang out with family and friends, mostly. But also, I play video games. I’m a Nintendo fan-boy. Right now I’m deep into Tears of the Kingdom. Listening to live music is also fun hobby. My fiance and I try to make it out when we can.
What does success look like for you as an author?
For me, success used to be getting published. Before I finished novel one, even when I was getting close to the end, it was hard to visualize just “being a published author.” I’ve done that, so in a way, I’m already a success. I always remind myself of that.
But the goalposts move and now success looks like fully supporting myself from my writing. That will probably be a while from now, but if others have done it, so can I.
Is there anything additional you want to share with readers?
Thanks for reading. If you like stories with a sense of mystery and awe, combined with action and thrills, give Path of Relics a try. It’s an interesting blend of science fiction and fantasy, and I hope you enjoy it.
Book Locations: Amazon / Kindle Unlimited
As Terry feared, their HP only whittled away. They must be high-level. Terry yelled as he neared the scuffle, drawing attention away from Chris.
Two of the four men broke off, racing to meet him.
He whirled his Kali sticks, deflecting each of their attacks in turn. Then Terry whipped around and caught the nearest man with solid strikes to hip and neck. He leapt back as the man’s companion thrust forward with his blade.
Together, the two men pressed Terry, putting him on the defensive.
He shuffled back through the obelisks, blocking and dodging. Still, he took a couple of hits, bringing his health down by a quarter.
These NPCs were high-level. Unlike the goblins, they fought smart, pushing Terry between them. His heart thundered, straining at the collective effort of the fight and his earlier sprint up the stairs.
The killing intent in the men’s eyes chilled him. Up to this point, he’d only fought creatures in PoR. Battling human NPCs was disturbing.
He wondered briefly if they might be special, like Jade. In the heat of battle, it was impossible to tell, but it didn’t matter. He needed to turn that seal back on, no matter what. Lives in the real world were at stake—lives he knew weren’t faked by an algorithm.