A question I get pretty often is how do I come up with my ideas?  In a lot of cases, they come through my extensive reading habits, or from research.  In some cases, the ideas are directly related to my personal experiences.  Writing the Crystal Halls series was one of these.

When I was in my early years of high school, I was in a lot of trouble.  Most of the friends I hung around with got kicked out of my rural Catholic high school for various semi-criminal reasons.  I narrowly avoided the same fate because a few of my teachers saw that I was mostly trouble adjacent, rather than the source of it.  It probably helped that I was in honors classes, and for the teachers I liked, my grades were pretty good.  

My older brother must have seen that I was rudderless, because he asked if I wanted to join a martial arts academy with him.  Chris was ten years older and living at the home while he worked his first engineering job out of college.  My dad was financially supportive, but not really the hands-on kind of father if you know what I mean, so I think my brother saw an opportunity to step into the void.  

I joined a Tae Kwon Do academy run by Grand Master Rho in the St. Charles area of Missouri.  He was hardcore and exactly what I needed.  For a kid that always rebelled against authority, I thrived on the structure and expectations and worked my way up to Red Second belt, which was two belts below black belt before I left for college and took a long break from martial arts.  

When it came time to write these books, I knew the magical piece from the Order of Merlin about the faez crystals, but that wasn't enough to flesh out the world of the Undercity.  I wanted to imbue the clans with more structure than just being random criminals in the same way that I learned discipline from my martial arts studies when I was a troubled kid.  I also had my twenty-five years of working for Toyota and traveling to Japan on a regular basis to inform the society as well.  This is especially prevalent in the Terreno region of the Undercity.  

But back to the martial arts, I believe the study of them made me a better, more disciplined person who never would have finished engineering school, or worked hard enough to achieve my dream of becoming a full-time writer without them.  I have my brother Chris to thank for helping me through that rough time which is why the Hundred Halls books always have a focus on family that stems directly from events like that in my life.  

Oh, and I think all that experience helped me write some killer fight scenes too.  So I hope you enjoy them.  And if you're wondering if I ever reached black belt.  Yes, I did.  My wife and I had our kids join Tae Kwon Do for the same discipline reasons (though they were exceptionally good kids) and because it was buy three get one free, I went back and finished up those last few belts to achieve that original goal.  The wife and kids got black belts too!

If you want more Crystal Halls, be sure to back the Kickstarter campaign that is running right now for the cheapest and fastest way to get the books.


Thomas K. Carpenter

Thomas K. Carpenter is a full time contemporary fantasy author with over 50 independently published titles. His bestselling, multi-series universe, The Hundred Halls, has over 25 books and counting. His stories focus on fantastic families, magical academies, and epic adventures.

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