The air felt heavy as tension built up. We were behind an old abandoned building when it all happened. “Drag me into their world? What are you taking abo—” Eight slammed her hand on the wall, a hair’s width away from my face. I could feel my heartbeat getting faster. I didn’t understand the danger I was in, or the danger they think I was in. “I never bothered them, and they never bothered me… At least not until today.”
“Was there anything you did that might have caught this Nis’ attention?” Ten spoke softly.
“I don’t remember.” I told the small-framed redhead. Her twin was a different story. I could see her toned arms up close after her hand had rushed beside my face. Eight had brute strength and agility, but Ten was so fragile. Small little thing she was and will remain to be.
“It doesn’t matter. We just need to deal with this one like we always do.” Eight removed her hand and proceeded to walk towards a nearby forest. Hano was more forest than city, so there’s always a cluster of trees nearby. Ten just stood there, eyes hooded by her heavy set bangs. Her lips were moving but I couldn’t quite understand what she was saying. “Ten, let’s go! We’ve got work to do.”
I followed the two deeper into the forest. “What are you planning to do?” I said as I grabbed Eight by the shoulder. She hesitated for a while then slowly turned towards me.
“We’re going to hunt. You should go back now.”
“We might need her, Eight.” Ten said meekly. “The Nis is attached to her.”
“We can just lure it out. She doesn’t have to be here.” Ten leaned in closer to her sister and whispered something in her ear. Eight griped but seemed to agree with Ten, nonetheless. She headed towards me and grabbed me by the shirt, pulling me towards her. “Listen Eri. You don’t have to be here, but I know you. You’re going to force yourself to stay here, anyway. We don’t have time for that. I need you to stay still and follow what I say. If you don’t, you’re going to get us all killed. Yes, killed, you little halfwit.” I grumbled at that comment. She released her grip and pointed to the ground “Sit here while Ten and I wait for your parasite. If you start seeing white again, don’t move, don’t talk. Whatever you see after that is an illusion of the Nis. Try not to get pulled in.”
INTERVIEW(This interview was edited for clarity.)
Name: Valerie Ira C. Balmoris (VIAI)
Occupation: Civil Engineer
Favorite time of day to write: Evening
Favorite writing instrument: Laptop
Favorite snack (and/or drink) while writing: Peppermint Tea
What inspired me to write: As I tried grasping the answer to this question, a mess of thoughts entered my mind, to be honest. There were a lot of things that went into writing this story. I think one driving force is my desire to create a world of my own. I have always been intrigued by the process of creating characters, creatures, places, history, language, and race, so what better way to do that than to write in a fantasy setting? Also, being an artist, another thing I’m excited about is the opportunity to create character art for my own story.
Other than that, I also have this desire to create characters that people can get attached to. I won’t lie, I’ve asked myself a number of times what a certain fictional character would do during difficult situations. I pulled motivation from them and I was inspired by their stories. Hunter Zero has a number of characters, each having their own struggle in life. My goal is to break them from the stereotypical character molds and make them as human as possible. I want to show how complex each human being can be, and reflect that in my characters.
The challenges I faced: I had a struggle with time management. This was my first time writing 15k words for a single story. I went in with the mindset of “do a little bit everyday so you won’t get overwhelmed at the end.” Of course I wasn’t able to do that, so I spent a number of sleepless nights writing my story to compensate for the days that I wasn’t able to write. I prefer not to rush a story, but I had to work with what I got.
To me, not meeting the deadline was like admitting that I overestimated myself. I knew it was possible, and there was no good reason to fail. (I’d) already sacrificed a lot of time and sleep because of it, so I want something to show for all my efforts. I also needed my story to get out there at that time, because I might not get an opportunity like that again. Thinking about that kept me going.
On feedback: I had a number of beta readers. One valuable feedback I got was about the original ending. “I would have loved to see the emotions presented more. What about the pain? What about the painful understanding after knowing what happened? It was a great chance to engage the reader.” I revised my ending because of that. It made me realize that the characters deserved a better ending.
Another notable feedback was about a scene in my story where one of the characters is running while texting someone. “If it’s so urgent, why is she texting? She should call the other person.” I really didn’t think about that. Sometimes you overthink stuff, so simple things like that can escape you. It’s nice when someone can point that out for you.
What I’ve learned: Technical stuff aside, I learned that writing is not easy. You have to fully immerse yourself in it in order to create a story that can move other people. Transforming thoughts into words is an excruciating process because you would have to somehow make sense of the abstract ideas forming in your head. You would have to spend a lot of time with your own thoughts, and that’s not something everyone is willing to do. I kind of understand why people say writers torture themselves, because you would have to pull from your own experiences and feelings if you want to write something believable. You have to remind yourself of the pain you once felt, and transfer that to the character.
Also, writing a book involves A LOT of revisions, if you want to make it a good one. Next time, I will devote more time and effort for my story. I now accept that it’s not supposed to be an easy process, but it’s definitely worth it.
What’s next: I plan on making Hunter Zero a book series. The first one released was more of an origin story, so the next one I’m going to write would be for the main story. I already have characters, places, history, and conflicts set up. All that is left is to fill in the gaps and write the story. I also plan on doing a web comic for Hunter Zero. It would have the same characters, but with different content. Personally, I love it when I see how characters are in their normal lives, so I might do that for the web comic.
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