Steven Novak is an illustrator, graphic designer and the author of Forts: Fathers and Sons, the first in a series of three novels.
Steven is co-founder of The Literary Underground, a co-op promotional house for some of the most exciting new indie authors in the business.
After spending his most formative of years in Chicago, Illinois, Steven moved to Columbus, Ohio and enrolled in the Columbus College of Art and Design. From there, he made his way to southern California where he married his wife, Tamara.
He has worked in the graphic arts/publishing industry for nearly ten years, illustrated a number of children’s books and provided work to direct-market sellers everywhere. When he’s not expanding on the world he’s created in Forts, Steven writes and illustrates a successful webcomic titled, The Bad Guys, designs book covers for various authors, images for web promotions, and deals with the duties associated with being a thirty-three year old step-grandfather. (It’s a long story.)
Fathers & Sons
For Tommy Jarvis, life has never been simple – quite the opposite, in fact. It is, however, about to become decidedly more difficult. Moments after stumbling through a doorway to another world, Tommy and his friends discover they are the key to ending a war in which the casualties are too great to count and their chances of survival are almost non-existent.
After stumbling through a doorway hidden at the base of their tree fort, the brothers find themselves caught in the middle of a war that has raged for years and left behind more causalities than numbers dare count. Along the way they’ll encounter creatures both bizarre and terrifying, and find friends in the most unpredictable of places.
Fathers and Sons is the first in a series that follows an unlikely group of children turned heroes and their adventures in a world that has nothing in common with their own, against an army of war mongering creatures led by a tyrant king and a young prince that will stop at nothing to see them dead.
A thousand years of peace had come to an abrupt and violent end. Off in the distance, trees that had stood eons longer than there have been inhabitants in this quiet, peaceful world collapsed to the ground. The thunderous boom resulting from the massive structures meeting their untimely demise echoed throughout the red forest. The creatures that called this very old, very simple place home felt tremors for miles in every direction. In response to the commotion, frightened groups of these thin, pale-skinned beings took to the treetops, hoping to learn the cause of the disturbance. Making use of limbs longer than the whole of their bodies, they scurried up the sides of the massive growths. One by one large, egg-shaped heads containing grotesquely large eyes parted the densely covered foliage, breaking the crest of the afternoon sky. Like a flock of birds, their heads moved in silent unison, focusing on the ruckus in the distance. Less than a mile away, patches of trees toppled to the ground as great plumes of dust and smoke rose toward the sky to take their place. The monstrous wall of debris began to spread across the forest, blocking out the light of the three sister suns.
For the very first time in its history, this place was slowly being enveloped by a darkness brought on, not by night, but something else entirely – something evil, angry, and aggressive – something that would change it forever.
Overcome with fear, most of the tiny creatures rapidly left their lofty perches, turned tail and scurried away in the opposite direction as quickly as their spindly legs would carry them. They saw what they had needed to see; it was instinct now that compelled the flock to get as far away from the situation as possible. An extraordinarily inquisitive, meek looking creature, however, ignored his primal instincts, choosing instead to do the exact opposite. While the others fled, this tiny thing moved toward the inconceivable force tearing its home to pieces. Sliding down the treetop, the awkward, lanky little creature headed toward the massive dirt cloud with curious caution. Within a matter of minutes, the wall of debris swallowed it completely. In the belly of the great dusty beast, sight beyond a few feet suddenly became impossible, forcing the little creature to rely on its oversized ears to guide it. With every step forward, the volume of the brutality rose significantly. With every step forward, the heart hidden behind the hollow bones in its chest beat faster – the thumping making its way upward into the creature’s head, pressing painfully against the folds of brain tucked safely inside its skull.
Through the haze of dust particles came something resembling a voice. Still too far off for the little creature to fully understand, it continued to stumble forward into the smoky abyss while listening carefully.
During a brief lull between the splintering of wood and the banishment of history, the tiny creature heard the voice once again.
This time it was deeper, louder, carrying with it a frighteningly stern seriousness, “Put your backs into it, you mutts! The area needs to be cleared by nightfall!”
With each step forward, the once-thick cloud of dirt began to clear; fuzzy images slowly twisted into focus. For a brief moment the terrified creature halted his forward progress in order to fully consider the logic behind its actions. Despite its choices to this point, this tiny being was not stupid. The feeling of danger coursing through its body was undeniable, thick and palpable, and very real. Since it was a child, the little thing had been much too inquisitive for its own good. A large portion of its youth was spent going to places and doing things that it had been repeatedly instructed not to do. Its parents had warned it on more than one occasion that curiosity would one day get it in trouble. It seems that on this point they were painfully correct.
Taking a deep breath in order to muster a bit of courage and just barely managing to halt the shaking of its thin hands, the creature made the decision to resume its journey toward the disaster area, now a little less than fifty or sixty feet away. When at last the debris cloud dissipated, the tiny, inquisitive thing realized for the first time that it should have heeded the warnings of its parents. A massive area where a lush, thriving forest once stood in beautiful elegance for generations had been almost obliterated. Thick trees covered in grayish-brown bark, once reaching proudly into the sky, lay scattered haphazardly across the forest floor. Upright walking, green-skinned, monsters adorned in layer upon layer of heavy coal black armor strolled defiantly among the wreckage surveying their progress, while others seated upon great snarling four-legged beasts continued the task of tearing down yet more ancient trees.
For the little creature, the sight was so unreal and resembled something plucked directly from a nightmare.
Every centimeter of its wiry body quivered with uncontrollable fear. The little creature slowly backed away from the madness, filling the full of its vision. It wanted to be somewhere else. It wanted to be anywhere but here. It wanted to run and continue running until its feet were covered in sores and it could run no more. In this single moment the tiny creature understood all too well that it should never had come to this place. It should have fled with the others. It should have sprinted home to its parents and curled up into the safety of their arms. Indeed, this was a sight the tiny thing would not soon forget. Some things, having been seen, could never be unseen.
The terrified creature’s backward movement came to an abrupt stop when it bumped into something large, was grasped tightly around the neck and lifted into the air. Now firmly in the clutches of a hulking armored figure, the creature began to flail its limbs wildly, searching for any possible means of escape, but finding none. The massive bodied, green skinned monster drew the squirming, wailing body of the pathetic little thing to within inches of his face, quizzically taking in its comically overstated features.
“Disgusting,” the monster muttered more to itself than to anyone in particular.
The dark eyes of the muscled figure focused coldly on those of the meek, squirming thing being tossed back and forth between its gloved fingers, “I am your new master, little one. Your home is now my home. Your family is now my family. Your food is my food. Most important of all, your life is now my life. Do you understand what I’m saying? Are you even capable of processing ideas such as these with your tiny brain?”
The grip around the skinny creature’s throat was slowly draining the life from its body. Its long limbs hung low and loose, flapping back and forth in the breeze created by the collapsing forest. With its throat crushed, it was unable to form anything resembling a word; the meek thing instead mumbled a sad, breathy, completely unrecognizable response; while tears streamed down the curves of its face.
“What a pity. You’re hardly worth the strength it will take to strangle you,” the green-skinned monster remarked, a slight chuckle in his deep voice.
As the thick cloud of dirt continued its ascent into the once crystal-clear mid-day sky, the sound of the collapsing trees drowned out the final pained cry of the little creature.
A thousand years of peace had been brought to a conclusion in a matter of minutes.
As had been the case since the dawn of time itself, the end of one story heralded the beginning of another.