Independent Author Jon Auerbach talks about his ‘A-ha’ moment involving Craig’s List and quests.
“Never interrupt a librarian mid-thought!” Ms. Bakadet had said. “She could be on the verge of locating a long-lost book that the next Nobel Prize winner needs to complete their master work!”
Guild of Tokens – Initiate by Jon Auerbach
“So there are things like a sword which fits in any bag, or gum that when chewed sobers a drunk
person instantaneously, or an ink that compels the reader to follow the written instructions.“
I was minding my own business one morning at work several years ago, when out of nowhere, a premise for a story hit me square in the face.
What if, buried somewhere in the too-numerous-to-count categories of Craigslist, there was a section called Quests?
To be honest, the idea wasn’t entirely out of nowhere. It was really out of Neverwhere. I’d first read Neil Gaiman’s classic about 10 years ago on the recommendation of a friend, and was immediately drawn into the world of London Below with its fantastical floating markets and murderous night bridges.
The idea of a hidden world just out of sight from our ordinary existence has always intrigued me and so with this Craiglist Quest premise in hand, I set to work. It was one of those rare writer moments where the words just started flowing out of my brain and onto the page almost effortlessly, and in the span of an hour, I had a fully-formed piece of flash fiction in which our as-yet unnamed protagonist traverses New York City completing odd Quests in exchange for wooden tokens.
But then what?
The character’s name in the flash fiction piece was never identified, no tidbits of their life revealed, other than a boring job and the giddiness that they felt when completing the quests.
And the quests themselves, what was their purpose? Did everyone know about them or just a select few? What could you buy with the tokens?
So I set to work with these questions and Neverwhere in the back of my mind. One of my favorite elements of that book is how Gaiman brought to life the various Tube stations as places and people. I wanted to do something similar for the New York of Guild of Tokens, except one thing our city is not known for is creative subway station names.
But after some digging, I uncovered a fair bit of history hiding in the city’s streets. And I wanted to tie that history and its reverberations into the events that Jen Jacobs, the now-named mid-20’s computer programmer protagonist would have to deal with by taking on the Quests.
I did so by borrowing something from another favorite series of mine, the epigraphs in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books. The epigraphs in Guild of Tokens tell the story of Rita van Asch, a member of the eponymous Guild in the late 1700s as she manipulates events in the Revolutionary War and beyond behind the scenes using some very powerful magical items that our heroine Jen will encounter 300 years later.
Which brings me to the final piece of the puzzle – the magic.
So there are things like a sword which fits in any bag, or gum that when chewed sobers a drunk person instantaneously, or an ink that compels the reader to follow the written instructions.
But there’s a rational explanation for all this. Magic is a natural resource. Like oil and gas and minerals. It’s found in nature and the earth. And like those things, it needs to be extracted and refined. And also like robber barons or industrialists with other natural resources, the people who discovered magic are the ones who kept it a secret and monopolized it and gotten rich off it by using it for their own profit.
And they spawned these families who have passed down the secret and who still control it.
But, there’s a problem. Just like every other natural resource, magic is being depleted.
This is the present state of affairs that Jen finds herself caught up in. There’s Quests to be completed, tokens to be earned, magic to be mastered, and a shadowy centuries-old organization that may or may not be evil but definitely has a Craigslist presence. I hope you’ll join Jen on her adventure.
Guild Of Tokens
“Off to the Mines of Moria with you then, foul email.”
Guild of Tokens – Initiate by Jon Auerbach
She wants to level up her humdrum existence. But her next quest could spell life or death.
All Jen Jacobs has achieved in life is loneliness. So when she stumbles across a real-life game of epic quests on the streets of New York, she jumps at the chance for some excitement and gold tokens. Little does she know that the items she strives to collect hold a darker purpose…
After a particularly harrowing quest pairs her up with Beatrice Taylor, a no-nonsense and ambitious mentor, Jen hopes she’s on the path to becoming a big-time player. But as she dives deeper into the game’s hidden agenda, she realizes Beatrice has her sights set on the Guild, the centuries-old organization that runs the Questing game. And the quests Jen loves are about to put both of them in grave danger.
Will Jen survive the game before powerful forces cut her real life short?
Guild of Tokens is a thrilling urban fantasy twist on conventional LitRPG. If you like determined heroines, gritty cityscapes, and vampire-free adventures, then you’ll love Jon Auerbach’s rollercoaster tale. Coming June 25!
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07STPH2F5/
Rest of world: https://www.books2read.com/guildoftokens
Read chapter 1 of Guild of Tokens
About the Author
Jon Auerbach’s love of fantasy began at the tender age of six, when his parents bought him the classic 1977 animated version of The Hobbit (the less said about the recent trilogy, the better). His passion for sci-fi developed from nights watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and from his dad’s old paperback copies of Foundation and I, Robot.
Jon writes in both genres and hopes to pass on his stories to the next generation, including his kids, who have their own copy of The Hobbit that they lovingly call “the Bilbo book.”
Sign up for Jon’s newsletter at www.jonauerbach.com/newsletter to get two free short stories!
Where to find Him
You can find Jon on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jaauerbach), Twitter (www.twitter.com/jaauerbach, and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9828848.Jon_Auerbach)
Great review, I’ll have to check this one out. Do you have any other summer book recommendations?