An author’s journey
Charles Wellington II talks about the fantasty world he created—and the all-too-real world of self-publishing
The fictional world of Corsana is not unlike our own. Sure, there are mythical creatures, mana-based technology and magic, but there’s also plenty of adventure, political tension and friendship. Corsana’s creator, author Charles Wellington II, refers to Corsana as a “parallel dimension” to Earth. As such, there are many similarities between Earth and Wellington’s fictional realm.
Corsana is the setting of Wellington’s epic fantasy series of the same name. The first installment, Corsana: The Phalanx Syndicate, was released in 2012. Book two, Corsana: Myths & Legends, comes out on June 1. Wellington is based in Reno, and his books have attracted a global readership.
Wellington described Corsana as having “the magical qualities of Harry Potter, meshed with the adventure styles from Lord of the Rings, wrapped in the battle prowess of the movie 300.” The series follows the story of a young man named Christopher Knight, nicknamed CK, who is a street urchin dreaming of a better life. When ships start capsizing off the coast of the continent of Corsana, CK joins a ragtag group of mercenaries to investigate and quickly learns there are larger forces at play. Meanwhile, CK has a secret—he’s a psionic. (In fantasy and science fiction, psionics are beings with psychic abilities linked to technology.)
Epic, fantastical world building isn’t new to Wellington. “I’ve been writing since I was 9 years old,” he said, although he took a long break from creative writing until adulthood. “I didn’t really remember [my writing] until someone had asked me and a memory came flooding back. I remember when I was in third grade, I had written a story that had Merlin and Hercules and Icarus and my own character in it, and they went on this adventure fighting Cerberus,” said Wellington, citing notable figures from Western mythology.
His experience in role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons also gave him a leg-up on tackling fantasy literature. Because D&D is interactive—players progress through a narrative established by the Dungeon Master, who serves as a guide—Wellington was able to learn the process of establishing interesting worlds and characters.
“I’m a longtime tabletop gamer, playing D&D and creating my own adventures, and friends and family were like, ’You need to write these stories,’” he said.
In 2005, Wellington began to craft the story that would eventually become Corsana.
“The first time I wrote it, it came out horrible,” he said. “I put it aside and wrote a textbook for myself.” The “textbook” was essentially the rules and nitty-gritty detail of Corsana—how the world worked. Although fantasy worlds are fictional, they still need to have believable limitations and rules to give characters the chance to grow and face consequences. Several years passed. “I said, ’Let’s just try this again,’ and it flew right out,” said Wellington. He wrote the book in three and a half months.
He’s kept up this momentum. Corsana: Myths & Legends took the same amount of time to write, although it’s substantially longer than the first book, exceeding 500 pages. He is already at work on book three, set for a June 2019 release.
There and back again
The process of getting Corsana out into the world has been “quite a journey,” said Wellington. He released the first edition independently, working with editors and designers to produce it. Eventually, the book was picked up by publishing house BHC Press.
“You hope and dream you’ll get with a publishing house, and I did, and it was … OK,” he said. “Eventually, we parted ways, and I went back to doing it myself. I realized during that time I knew everything they were going to do for me and was capable of doing it myself. The benefit of being with a publishing house is having that title. Many book reviewers won’t review books that are self-published.”
Reviews are huge for emerging authors, who need all the help they can get standing out in a crowded market. Wellington said that BHC Press sent Corsana to notable reviewers, bloggers and YouTubers, which helped him build a following.
He split from BHC Press amicably, and now he’s releasing Corsana: Myths & Legends independently, a process that he takes very seriously.
“There is an attitude against self-publishing, and it is fully deserved,” said Wellington. It boils down to editing.
Wellington said that self-published authors often don’t know the difference between “developmental editing,” which focuses more on making a story cohesive and engaging, and “line editing,” which refers to the grammar and sentence structure of a novel. The first edition of Corsana received some criticism because of grammatical mistakes, which Wellington thinks was fair. He addressed them in the second and third editions of the book.
“I want to give my readers perfection as much as I can,” he said. Seeking out honest feedback is crucial. “Many new writers don’t have friends and family who say, ’This sucks, you need to edit.’”
He urged new writers to invest in both types of editing, which can cost thousands of dollars, but he said it’s a worthwhile investment. Wellington also makes art a priority, including his cover art and the interior world maps. Although he holds degrees in fine arts, he works with artists around the world to craft his covers. Professional design and layout help readers take books seriously.
Now that he has a readership, he feels more confident about tackling the release of his upcoming books. Writing full-time is “the dream,” said Wellington, who currently works in human resources and spends nearly all of his spare time writing. Wellington has “five or six” books planned for Corsana, with a new installment to be released every year. He also has ideas for other books, including a thriller and a romance novel.
Regardless of the genre, Wellington said he is always “inspired by the hero’s journey.”
“Being able to see someone who is flawed and who can stand up and not be this perfect person who automatically does everything for the right reason and is truly human, that’s what inspires me,” said Wellington. “In the books, you have characters with powers, with special abilities, with spells, but even with all that, they’re flawed, they’re normal. They want love. They have passion. They read books. And that was one of those things, where I just wanted to have a fun character who many people can relate to.”