I’m Astrid V.J., award-winning author, social anthropologist and transformational life coach. I would like to thank Amanda for reaching out to me and asking about my upcoming novel which is a project very close to my heart.
The Apprentice Storyteller is a fantasy/sci-fi cross-over about itinerant storyteller, Viola Alerion, and how she meets a boy who wants to become her apprentice. She is a grumpy, irascible person who doesn’t want to be saddled with any extra responsibility but the boy refuses to take no for an answer and eventually she gives in, accepting him as her apprentice and allowing him to accompany her on her travels.
Although The Apprentice Storyteller is all about a journey, it is not only the physical journey of an itinerant storyteller and her apprentice, nor is it merely a voyage of a boy learning about the universe and how it works while learning the art of storytelling. This is a story about the inner journey we are all capable of, the power we hold at the tips of our fingers and that most of us never tap into.
Viola’s journey is all about the realisation that something in the current situation, circumstance or condition causes dissatisfaction and the growing sense of longing we all feel in those times is a source of power. The novel looks at how to transform ones experience into something meaningful and, in so doing, transform the life one is living into something one loves.
When I was twelve, I wanted to become a writer. It was my most ardent dream and I worked on my novels every spare moment I had. I used to walk around with a big, hard-backed file under one arm and a pen in hand, constantly filling it up with spare sheets of paper.
In time, that dream became crowded by shadows and I gave into the thoughts that told me I’d never make it, that my books weren’t worth it and that writers are poor. I don’t know where the belief about finances came from but it was very powerful and stuck with me, leading me to even deny the many examples that belied that very thought. I dismissed J.K. Rowling, for example, by pointing out that there was no way my books could be as good as Harry Potter. At every turn, I denied myself any possibility of success and turned instead to something “reasonable” and studied Psychology, a subject I actually ended up hating and Anthropology, which I learned so much from.
The desire to write never left me and if I ignored my pen for too long, my heart strings would tug at me remorselessly. Over time, I continued to put myself down and particularly denied that my writing had any worth, even if others who read my books thought they were amazing and told me I should publish them. I don’t know exactly when the shift happened. It wasn’t some crazy “ah-ha” moment. It was more a gradual changing of perceptions and, at last, little over a year ago, I made a decision that I would reach for my dream and prove to myself that I am worthy of being an author no matter what. I’ve published three books since then and am working very hard on a whole lot more. I’ve met some amazing people on this journey as well and I am truly grateful for all the opportunities that have opened up before me.
Last year, I also found out about transformational life coaching and realised that it is my second calling. My interest in Psychology, back in the day, was based on my desire to help people overcome the difficulties of their lives, but I have no interest in telling people what is wrong with them. I’m much more interested in guiding people to find their own solutions to overcome the problems they face and to reach for the success they long for. The principles underlying human transformation are simple and can really bring about huge changes if we use them in the optimal way. Many of us start on the path of change, we make new year’s resolutions, we decide to diet and get into shape, we push for the dream job or vacation of a lifetime, but many of us try to bridge the gap in a disorganised way, without understanding how things work and how they fit together.
I came up with the idea for The Apprentice Storyteller many years ago but there was something missing and I realised during my certification training as a transformational life coach that the principles of transformation were my missing piece. As soon as the penny dropped, the story unfolded perfectly and took my breath away. It was entirely different from anything I’ve ever written before and totally challenged me to grow as a writer.
I wrote the manuscript in November during NaNoWriMo and have spent the past months trying to put together what I need to get the book to a professional editor because I take my readers as seriously as I like to be treated when I pick up a book. The original plan of using my income from my day job towards this project fell through when my husband lost his job and he’s still seeking, but I didn’t want my circumstances to stop this book from seeing the light of day, especially when it has the power to uplift and transform lives. I had to find the courage to acknowledge that the principles I’ve included in The Apprentice Storyteller can work for anyone, including me.
If you’d like to find out more about The Apprentice Storyteller, you can check out my Wattpad (where I have a few chapters available for free), or the crowdfund I set up as a pre-order for the book and an accompanying series of novellas. I recently did a live reading of the first three chapters.
Remember, no matter what it is you want to do, the power within you is far greater than any circumstance or situation you may find yourself in.
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau
Wattpad link: https://www.wattpad.com/user/AstridVJ
Live reading link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=2623332261326163
This book is in editing right now and the crowdfund has ended, so there’s no worries. It will be published at the end of August.