The Road to Hell Release Blog

July 14th, 2023


This is the most excited I have been about fanfiction in years. Not since my early days posting Ashes of Chaos has the genre captivated my dopamine the way it does right now. That is because, at long last, The Road to Hell is here!

This story is being posted in two formats. The first is the one you are all accustomed to — with the text being posted on my website, on FanFiction.Net, and on AO3. The final version of the prologue releases on FFN/AO3 on Sunday.

What’s different about this story is that it has an audiobook! I made a couple of ill-fated attempts at audiobooks back in the day, but this one is being professionally recorded and it will be uploaded on YouTube every single Friday! This is being done by the incredibly talented Sam Gabriel. Many of you likely know her for her work on stories like A Cadmean Victory Remastered and Alexandra Quick. The prologue is available right now in audio over on my YouTube channel! I encourage all of you to go and check that out! I am very pleased with the final versions I have heard so far!

Chapters will be posted weekly on Discord, FFN/AO3, and YouTube. My Patreon page is, of course, the best way to get chapters early. They’re already in the 20s. If you don’t want to join the server or become a patron, the audio chapters being posted on Friday means that they release two days before the accompanying text.

All right, now that the housekeeping has been done, let’s get started!

It has been quite some time since I have written a proper one of these release blogs. I have done them for things like PoP books 2 and 3, but that’s just not the same. The buzz that accompanies a new story is something special and there is just so much more that needs discussing.

A lot has changed over the course of those two years. I am no longer a professional athlete, I have both gained and lost loved ones, and most relevant to this blog, I have learned to write.

I was going to give a long, droning speech about how so much time has passed since the last one of these that I’m unsure where to start, but I suppose that is the most natural place. This first section may bore many of you. If you are a part of this crowd, feel free to skip directly to the portions discussing The Road to Hell more directly.

I often rag on my early work over on the Discord server or say things like the above, ‘I learned to write’ in reference to the past couple of years. This usually evokes perplexment from people whenever I say things like that. They mention that they loved AoC, or they confess confusion at how I learned to write only after hundreds of thousands of words were posted on sites like Fanfiction.Net and AO3. When these questions arise, I answer with something short, succinct, and not all that informative. I think this blog presents me an opportunity to change that and put the entire story out there. This will circle back and become relevant to this blog’s purpose, you have my word.

I dabbled in creative writing back when I was very young, but it was never serious. I was fascinated by Marvel and DC. I read many of the old comics, I watched more animated movies and television programs than I can remember, and I often found myself unsatisfied. I can’t remember the first time I tried writing something of my own. Just that it was short, awful, and abandoned. I grew slightly more ambitious as the years progressed and played around with a number of comic-type stories, but I never took them seriously.

That, plus some acclaim during creative writing classes in elementary school, was the extent of my exploration for a handful of years. I can’t remember exactly how old I was when that changed. Ten? Eleven? Twelve? It was somewhere in that range — a lot of time has passed since then and the years leech at a man’s memories.

The important thing is that, one day, I had a question — what if Harry Potter really had been sorted into Slytherin? This notion lodged itself deep into my skull until I decided I would find out the only way I knew how.

That was how I wrote my first ever piece of fanfiction. It was actually posted in 2018, probably around a decade after it was written, and then subsequently deleted when I actually began reading some fanfiction myself and realized that my pre-teen self just wasn’t up to scratch. A handful of other musings of a similar sort were started over the next year or so. Some of these were also posted. I am proud of none of them, as you can imagine, and I regret posting them in some ways. That is why I will not name them here — though you can find them online, plagiarised and reposted following their deletion by talentless scumbags not worth the sacks of shit they crawled out of.

The funniest part is that, at the time they were penned, I had never heard of fanfiction. I never knew that what I had just done was something millions were partaking in.

That was something I learned years later, in 2017, following a serious injury that left me all but bedridden and seriously depressed. It is one of two times during my life that I have truly hit rock bottom and I needed a distraction.

I found one in a reread of the Harry Potter series. It was the first time in years I had picked up the books, and now that the years had aged and jaded me, I found many flaws that had escaped my notice back when I had been so young.

I don’t remember what it was that made me go looking for fanfiction. I only read a few stories once I went looking. Dethryl’s They Shook Hands is the first I can remember with any clarity, but given my headspace during that time, it might not actually have been the first.

These readings soon lost their luster and I found myself experimenting again. It was back to the idea of a Slytherin Harry, but of a different sort. I think I must have read some of Harry Potter and the Prince of Slytherin — even though 2019 is the first time I can actually remember reading that story — because, as has been pointed out by others ad nauseam, there are striking similarities between The Sinister Man’s work and what I eventually came up with.

This is the first of my stories that is still available on my own profile — Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos.

I don’t remember why I posted my pre-teen work instead of Ashes back in 2018. It was probably because I knew both were lacking but had a built-in excuse when it came to the quality of those older works.

I mentioned earlier that I have hit rock bottom twice during the course of my life — the second time was early in 2020. Rock bottom was not actually reached until after the outbreak of COVID-19, but I was in a tough spot near the end of 2019, and so I reopened the old files and combed through them. I still found them lacking but realized how far ahead of my adolescent attempts they were, and so several months later, they were posted.

The story took off in a way that I will never understand. I am open in saying that Ashes of Chaos is not very good. It has some interesting ideas and I always understood the execution of things like mysteries and cliffhangers, but it is bloated, clunky, flavourless word vomit throughout the first two years. I had no care for quality while depressed and bedridden and my revisions three years later could only do so much. Little had changed — I was still a professional athlete with no idea how to write.

But that soon began changing. Reviews flooded in, and the Discord server ballooned.

Encouraged and possessing more free time than I had ever had in my life, I decided to experiment again, and this time, I paid heed to quality.

The results of that experimentation were Harry Potter and the Conjoining of Paragons, and then Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity not long later.

When I say I paid heed to quality, that does not mean I succeeded in making something with any degree of skill; it just means that it was my first honest attempt.

PoP’s first year is poorly written. It was my first foray into passable dialogue and the prose were better than something like AoC, but that’s not saying much. They were bloated, flowery, and largely without purpose. The same can be said for most of CoP’s first half.

The important thing during this span of time is not the work nor its quality, but the fact it was improving. The imagery began growing more vivid, the dialogue more palatable, the characterization steadier and more engrossing. I was beginning to really grow obsessed and yearned to grow skillful. I was also, unfortunately for that wish, preparing for a hopeful bid at the Olympic Games, so I lacked the time to really make meaningful strides past some subtle improvements to poor writing here and there.

Then, something happened — I decided to try and write full-time.

I won’t get into that here because I have done so in great lengths during previous blogs — the important thing is that, finally, I had time.

Sentences grew more precise, and slowly, my style was trimmed down until purposeless passages ceased appearing. The characterization really began taking shape and the prose smoothed out more and more each passing week. This is because, all of a sudden, I had unlimited time which I could spend obsessing over these improvements with the work ethic, discipline, and mentality of a professional athlete.

The first piece of writing posted that really shows this is PoP book 3, though that was largely written during the early stages of those improvements and then refined later, so it is still jagged and somewhat shallow in places. Much of CoP’s second half falls into a similar category, written in the midst of these improvements and very hampered by my pre-established style.

And, finally, we reach the purpose for all my ramble.

The first draft of The Road to Hell’s prologue was written in early June, 2022, along with the first chapter’s original iteration. I have grown a lot since then and the final versions look very different than the ones penned thirteen-plus months ago, but that does not mean the originals were bad — and that excited me.

That is really where Road to Hell began. I had finally reached a level that I deemed acceptable. There were, and still are, plenty of things that needed refining, but I finally believed in myself in a way I never had.

I now understood completely how lacking my previous works were — particularly their early stages. So too was I aware that much of the community judged me based on those early works.

That is where Road to Hell really comes from.

I am extremely competitive and take great pleasure in proving people wrong — it is what forged me into a professional athlete and it is what drove me towards one day becoming a professional writer. A part of me could not — and still cannot — stand that so many have a perception of my ability that is so outdated, and thus, inaccurate. I sought to right that wrong and produce something that, from start to finish, I would be proud of.

That really was my motivation. Some of you might believe that’s petty, childish, arrogant, or any number of other things and think less of me for that. I don’t look at it that way, myself — but I understand how some might and I won’t waste breath arguing.

Instead, I will take some time to explain how this particular story sprang up from those motivations.

I went through a stint, back in 2018, during which I read a fair few time travel stories. I dabbled in those taking place during Riddle’s time at Hogwarts, but the ones I read the most of took place in the 1970s, a time the fandom has coined the Marauders’ Era.

You have to understand that, back then, I was like most fanfiction readers. I didn’t understand, let alone care about, quality. I wanted things I found interesting and that could hold my attention. But even back then I was tired of these stories, and in hindsight, it’s no wonder why.

One of the biggest draws attached to time travel stories is the unpredictability that should come with them. Canon rehashes are no longer an option when canon for the time period your tale takes place in hardly exists at all. There are a small handful of named characters about which we know varying degrees, but there are a whole host of blank templates that can be forged into interesting, refreshing characters that can drive the story forward. There are original plots that can be constructed, a whole world that can be discovered — endless possibilities free of preconceptions.

But that’s not what happens when someone writes a time travel story in the Harry Potter fandom — not in the vast majority of cases.

I revisited the genre in mid-2022 in the hopes of scoping out what had been done already so that I could avoid retelling stories that had already been written. Part of me was actually excited. I had scarcely read fanfiction for the past two years because it had long since grown stale, repetitive, and uninteresting to me. I hoped that, for all the reasons listed above, diving deeper into time travel stories than I had four years prior would breathe new life into the fandom for me.

Imagine my surprise when I found these stories duller, staler, less imaginative, and more repetitive than the usual affair.

I am about to tear apart this… trope, genre, archetype? I’m not entirely sure what you call it, but I want it known that there are, of course, exceptions. What I am about to say does not apply to every time travel fic that covers a portion of the Marauders’ Era. I have actually read a vast minority of what is out there and I’m sure some of them do the opposite of what I am about to lay out. If you want my opinions on specific stories, we can discuss them on the Discord server. It should also be noted that I am hyperbolizing for the sake of humour.

I dove into this batch of tales hoping to find out which stories had already been told.

It turns out that about three of them had been — these three had just been copied, pasted, tweaked, and reposted time and time again.

How often does Harry land in the past, magically stumble upon the woman he will end up with within two chapters because of a poorly presented reason that feels cheap and hollow? How often does he then stumble onto the doorstep of the Blacks, become best friends with Arcturus, and learn secret arcane magic that Voldemort knows not? How often does he meet… oh no, I have to talk about the Marauders now.

James usually turns out to be a hilarious, fun-loving paragon of virtue who is all too willing to take in a random stranger, and within twenty chapters, is over the moon to accept his elaborate tale of time travel and welcome him into the family with open arms. And then, of course, there is Charlus — Arcturus’s old friend who tearfully embraces his grandson and teaches him what it means to be a Potter.

And Sirius… oh dear, should I even get into Sirius?

I have often been accused of hating Sirius. This probably stems from two places — my treatment of him in PoP, and my rants about him that can be heard in several podcasts.

I want to make one thing clear — not only do I not hate Sirius, but he is among my favourite characters from the books. I think he is among the most balanced and believable adult characters Rowling ever created. I often find Harry’s relationships with the adults in his life shallow, forced, and overall unnatural. Sirius is one of a few exceptions and every moment he spends with Harry feels earned in a way few things in the series do. My only real gripe with the way JKR portrays him is that it is both disingenuous and irresponsible to pretend that a dozen years of psychological torture leaves such few and shallow scars.

No one acts the way fanon Sirius so often does. Flippant disregard surrounding a loved one’s safety all because you don’t believe in rules, combined with the fact that pranking someone every time he is on the page is as essential to his existence as oxygen, on top of with bland single mindedness that spits in the face of psychology, combined with — you know what, I’m not even going to get into the dogfather thing. Let’s just say that when an overused nickname is the most unique and defining trait of a character, I feel that their potential has been wasted.

What I am saying in so many words is that Sirius is most often one of the most disgusting caricatures I have ever seen, and most of that remains true in time travel stories, just in slightly different ways.

Either he still maintains the life threatening need to be written like a caffeinated nine-year-old, or he is a Mary Sue who is Harry’s bestest friend forever the second he lands and can do no wrong. Oh, or he is a disgusting misogynist more concerned with womanizing than he is being a character.

Or he’s paired with Remus. I actually don’t have a problem with that one, in principle, and think it’s infinitely more interesting than any of the other options. It’s usually just written by people who manage to make it obnoxious to read and completely unrepresentative of a community so sorely lacking representation.

Most of these complaints can be extrapolated:

Marlene is a quidditch star, or a future auror, or has run through half the blokes at Hogwarts — no matter which one is true, she’s probably with Sirius. Narcissa is a healer, Pettigrew’s magically not that bad, and Lily is a perfect angel with more plot armour than Superman.

I am, of course, generalizing for the sake of succinctness and hopefully for the amusement of whoever’s reading. That being said, you get the idea — time travel should be original and refreshing, but it’s anything but more often than not. Characters we know nothing about are magically the same in every story, the plot is copied and pasted every time, and the world is somehow narrower than it was in the original series.

Oh, and Harry is a god who suffers no setbacks, or he magically powers up because Black family magic or some nonsense — how could I forget the most important part.

All of that is garbage. Not a shred of it is interesting and even less of it is competent writing.

I’m not saying none of it can work. I actually play with a lot of those ideas for the sake of exploring newground built on familiar foundations. For example, Harry will eventually learn some spells coveted exclusively by a given family. The difference is that these spells will serve a narrow purpose and really won’t change the grand scheme of things all that much.

I guess that’s a good enough transition into what specific ideas sparked this story.

This one is tricky. Most of my other fics sprang up from a singular idea. AoC was a Slytherin Harry working his way up through a broader world, PoP was a realistic descent into darkness, CoP was… well, that would be telling, ask me again once you have the ending 🙂.

Road to Hell wasn’t like that. I knew I wanted to write a Marauders’ Era story; I knew how much untapped potential there was there and I had interesting ideas for a handful of characters, none of which I had seen explored in the ways I hoped to.

But two other ideas had been nagging at me for even longer.

The first is decades old. My mother always used to watch shows chronicling serial killers when I was growing up. I found these fascinating from a young age, but not for the reason most children do. I wasn’t really interested in how the murderer was caught — I knew that they were and that was enough for me, knowing that the aggrieved family could rest easy.

What interested me was the psychology. Why did these people do the things they did? What could break a person so badly that they sought to break the ones around them? What were these people like, how could they hide so well in plain sight?

This interest simmered for years, until my parents purchased a kitten who was… eccentric. Not aggressive, just… chaotic.

My father named him Manson and explained to a young me that the name came from a famous serial killer who had led a cult of psychopaths.

Cue the ensuing rabbit hole I tumbled down. I actually found Charles Manson somewhat uninteresting. Oh, his ramblings were fascinating, in a way, but his story never really grabbed me.

Except for one component of it — the cult.

Since the day I decided writing was something I would take seriously, I have yearned to portray a truly villainous cult leader. This is something I will one day explore in much more depth when I publish novels of my own, but Road to Hell is my first attempt.

I will be careful not to say too much here because I don’t really give out spoilers, but suffice to say, I think Voldemort is boring and I have for a long time. My typical approach here is just to make him more like teenage Tom Riddle, because teenage Tom Riddle was interesting. Except most people who have written Voldemort in these types of stories have done that, so that would be doing the opposite of what I want to do.

But you know what I haven’t seen done well? A flawed yet terrifying Tom Riddle who has grown to embrace the more arcane aspects that come with leading a devoted group of psychopaths.

Anyone who has talked to me long enough on the Discord server can probably guess how much fun I have had with this. My Riddle is much more like Rasputin than he is Manson, but that does not change the roots from where this concept sprouted.

The final idea I referenced requires much less explaining.

I have always carried a fascination for Gellert Grindelwald. Of all the companions I wish JKR would publish, a complete version of The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbldore tops my list. Part of that is because Dumbledore is interesting, but a larger part comes from my yearning to know more about Grindelwald, his war, and his greater good.

When Fantastic Beasts largely failed to provide that for me, I turned to fanfiction. I did not find much that satisfied me, but I did find something interesting and I wish I could remember what this fic was called. I have searched for it several times to no avail. I’m not sure if it was deleted or if I just don’t remember well enough to find it, but the premise was that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had taken over the world, that Ron was the Boy-Who-Lived, and that Tom Riddle was the Hogwarts Headmaster.

The story was abandoned, but ever since, I have wanted to play with this idea. I am a reader and a writer of epic fantasy at heart. What intrigues me most about the genre is the worldbuilding, but when playing in someone else’s sandbox, the amount of world you can build is somewhat limited.

That is until you decide that a new world order conquered the planet three decades prior to your story’s beginning — then you can build a unique world that echoes the one readers know so well, but branches off in ways thus far unimagined.

It also blends perfectly with the tale I wanted to tell.

This story is titled The Road to Hell and that might sound familiar. You have probably heard it most often in reference to the quote “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

Morality has always interested me. Without getting too personal, I always try and judge people by their intentions. I, of course, weigh their actions too, but I always try and examine their underlying goals and what it is I think they wanted. I think that is the surest way to take a person’s measure and a perspective largely lacking in today’s society.

But I have, in the past, been accused of weighing intentions too heavily and overlooking the actions they are attached to. This is something I have worked hard on correcting. I realized during that process how interesting a story that would be.

What if a jaded protagonist was dropped into a world in which morality is anything but clear? What if that world changed everything the protagonist thought they knew about what was right and wrong? How would a person cope with the reality that someone they thought could do no wrong had committed genocide and conquered all? How long would they be able to excuse that person’s actions by assuming they knew what the conqueror had in mind? Trust is a fickle thing, but it can bind in ways no restraints can ever match. How far could those ropes stretch before they snapped and what would that path look like?

George R.R Martin, an author I admire and have studied extensively, often cites a quote from Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner. The full quote is vaster, but Martin most often condenses it into some version of, “The only stories worth telling are those that show the human heart in conflict with itself”. I, largely, agree and I sought to tell a deeper story of that ilk when writing The Road to Hell.

The other big thing I sought to do in this story is to tell it honestly. That seems simple, but I refer you to my above complaints about caricatures and bastardized mockeries of human psychology.

James was not a good person going into his seventh year; pretending otherwise without deliberately altering events in a way that would change that is foolish and insulting. Sirius should not act like a methed out prepubescent, and Harry should not just accept that he has fallen into a new world.

James is different in this story. His family is in a very different position than is usually portrayed in fanfiction. That being said, nothing has happened that would miraculously make him a good person. And you know what, that’s fine; characters that are typically liked are allowed to be bad people. It’s actually more interesting that way — it presents forks in the road and that character’s arc can be far wider and more complex depending on which path they decide to brave.

James is the least favourite character of a handful of patrons near the beginning of this story, and that is exactly what I wanted. My goal with James is to take the character in directions not often explored, and part of that involves me making people who would usually like James hate his guts. If I can do that, step one has been accomplished.

I have less to say about Sirius. This one is kind of just selfish — I have written Sirius the way I wish most fanfiction authors would. I hope you enjoy a character whose existence you can actually believe; anything else is a bonus. I use familiar ground to evoke familiar reactions, then I deconstruct those reactions one by one and begin altering them as the tale progresses.

Then there’s Harry’s reaction to being dropped into a new world.

This is an interesting one I can’t actually take credit for.

Last autumn, I had Matt — more commonly known as DarknessEnthroned (the author of A Cadmean Victory) or M.J Bradley — look over the story’s first handful of chapters and provide feedback. Matt’s biggest nitpick was thus — why is Harry so okay with being dropped into an unfamiliar world? Why is his top priority not returning home and fulfilling the goals he had set?

I paused when first I read that, and then I began sifting through my bank of memories.

The reason I had written Harry that way, I soon realized, was because I had NEVER seen a realistic portrayal of someone dropped into an alternate world, so I had subconsciously mirrored that.

But that was ridiculous — Matt was one hundred percent right.

Why is Harry always upset or panicked for three chapters, then just completely okay with his life in every time travel story? Why is a large portion of his time not spent trying to return from whence he had come? Why is he so willing to accept that there is no way back? How is all of that not eating him alive?

That piece of criticism is probably the most valuable one I have received regarding this story. It altered the narrative in a meaningful and long lasting way and many of you might find yourselves wondering what the story would have looked like without that grounding bit of realism.

And that just comes back to what I said above — I wanted to be honest. Harry would be an utter mess, desperate to return home and yearning to continue his war against Voldemort. Portraying him in any other way would be disingenuous.

Just like ignoring the trauma one accumulates during six years of constant war — like Harry went through prior to the prologue — would be dishonest of me. Both my grandfather and great-grandfather fought in major wars and both of them were scarred. I can vividly remember my grandfather’s battle with PTSD and I have heard numerous times about how it drove him out of the Canadian Armed Forces. I have seen what the kind of things Harry has gone through does to someone and skirting around those hard truths would do everyone who has ever struggled with them a disservice.

It’s not just about being dishonest — that’s not the only vexing thing about how many other fics approach storytelling — it’s completely ignoring facets that just ought to be there.

Things like how people should feel in otherworldly situations, or the difficult choices protagonists must make, or how they should inevitably fail when mistakes are made, or how others should realistically treat them, even if it isn’t flowers, rainbows, and perfect for clickbait.

This gives me the perfect opportunity to present an example and discuss the final loose end I want to touch on.

The pairing.

If you want this story’s pairing to remain a secret, then click off now and don’t look at the FFN/AO3 version of the fic once it has been posted. I plan on tagging the pairing in both, so I see no reason why it should be hidden here.

All right, next paragraph literally begins with the reveal — you have been warned.

This story features a pairing between Harry and Narcissa. The way I commonly see this done is nonsense.

Narcissa is a healer who treats an injured Harry the moment he lands, or she is introduced to him by her family, or he saves her from an abusive Lucius, or some horny nonsense I won’t dignify.

If alterations have been made to Narcissa’s character that null my complaints, then obviously, that is fine; it just usually is not the case.

Narcissa being a healer? I like the idea that she would want to break off from her family and do her own thing, but a healer? Do you really think proud, haughty Narcissa Black would find such pleasure in slaving over others’ problems? Particularly when most are probably minor and the fixes so formulaic?

I think not, unless aspects of the story have been catered towards explaining or justifying that aspect of her psyche. If those have been made, then of course, this is perfectly valid. It’s fanfiction — any character can be altered in any way, but more often than not, authors just pretend that their illogical directions make sense.

Narcissa being introduced to Harry via the Blacks? I guess there’s no huge problem with this one, but why does it happen in the first place? Because the author wants them together and can’t think of a creative way of doing that? Oh, and they didn’t think to explain why the family would want Narcissa marrying a halfblood or why she would be okay with that?

Harry saving Narcissa from an abusive Lucius — again, why? Sure, Harry has a saving people thing, but he was perfectly content letting Draco die or go to Azkaban in canon. Why would he go out of his way to rescue Narcissa from Lucius specifically? Why not just deal with Lucius, then be done with the situation?

I also just find the way this one is most often done kind of gross. It paints Narcissa as a helpless damsel running into the arms of Prince Charming. Let’s just shove aside how utterly uncomfortable and bumbling Harry would be here for a minute and focus on the connotations.

The way this is usually done strips Narcissa of any autonomy, devalues her character going forward, glorifies a really unhealthy situation and skims over how unhealthy that relationship would likely be, and just plays into all sorts of gender stereotypes that are best left decades in the past.

There are ways of making that one work and not falling into any of those traps — particularly if the rescue is just a thing that happens and not the catalyst of a relationship — but that’s usually not how it’s approached.

Then there is the elephant in the room — Narcissa is a snobbish, stuckup blood purist and not a good person.

This is almost always just ignored and the authors just pretend it doesn’t exist.

That’s lazy and a great example of bad writing.

And also what interested me most.

Could I take snobbish, stuckup Narcissa and forge a believable bond between her and Harry while not having either of them just miraculously forsake their values? Could I believably have these two come together in a way that felt natural, earned, and furthered the story? Could I tie all of it into the story’s wider themes and plots?

I’ll let all of you decide once you’ve read it 🙂

Any jabs I threw are intended to be lighthearted and are completely absent of malice. At the end of the day, if the work fulfills the author’s vision, that’s really all that matters. It’s really easy looking at something in hindsight and pick it apart. Me doing that is just for the purpose of explaining my process and is not meant to imply that I think I’m better than any of these people or that my stories are superior to theirs. Art is subjective and so are these gripes, though I do absolutely stand by all of them.

I have done a lot of talking about myself and my process, but that process is incomplete without the help of some truly special individuals who have provided their assistance.

Both Luq and Thanos fill primarily copy editing roles, but they also provide line edits that make a huge difference in the quality of this story.

Theo has been my primary beta reader throughout the writing of Part I. Not only did he provide detailed feedback each time I sent out a chapter, but we often spent long periods of time discussing said feedback and the chapter as a whole. Theo’s impressions played a large part in how I told the story and presented its varying threads. His insights were invaluable.

Sam Gabriel, the wonderful voice actor behind the audiobook, also has my thanks. Weekly uploads were a demand I made of Sam upfront. I understood how lofty that ask was and how much work goes into maintaining a pace like that. Sam has been a professional every step of the way and you can thank her not only for the incredibly realized audio production and the life she breathes into every character, but for the cover art as well.

Some of the most valuable feedback I received came from Matt/M.J Bradley/DarknessEnthroned. Whatever you want to call him, he is renowned for being a ruthless critic of anything he reads. His eye was the most critical and his feedback the most detail-oriented. You can thank Matt for a lot of the subtle throughlines contained in this story and for encouraging me to be as economical as I can be in the way the tale is told.

Regress and 3CP are also labelled beta readers, but of a different sort. They provide occasional feedback on chapters and the like, but primarily, they are there to help me in the construction of the story. They are who I bounced ideas off of and many of the ideas that make this story what it is came from one of them. They also help me with a lot of the nitty gritty logistics that go into each chapter — something that is often overlooked by those who read a story.

My editor might still be studying so that she can be officially called a pro, but Athena’s abilities are on a professional level. Her line edits make a profound impact on each and every chapter and her influence permeates my writing. Many of the improvements my style underwent mentioned throughout this blog can be at least partially attributed to her. If you enjoy this story’s prose or where my style has wound up, take the time to thank Athena — she plays a large part in that.

I will reiterate that the prologue of this story is now LIVE on YouTube. Audiobook chapters will release two days before the accompanying text on FFN/AO3. I make heavy edits on this story — something I don’t really do on my others — so even if you’ve read the rough text on Discord, I would recommend checking out the final versions either via audio on YouTube, or via text on FFN/AO3; you might be surprised by some of the changes.

If you want to read further ahead than the audiobook, Discord members already have the first five chapters of this fic and are receiving the sixth on Sunday. Patrons currently have through chapter 22 and will receive two more chapters next week. Sign up to my Patreon page if you want to read all those chapters now!

If you want to help me fund the audiobook, then the ACI100 PayPal account has been linked here and is in #aci100-links over on the Discord server. It’s going to be posted weekly either way, but it is NOT CHEAP.

I hope you guys enjoy the story. Like I said, I have not been so excited about fanfiction in a very long time and I am eager to see what you lot think. Follows and favourites on FFN would be GREATLY APPRECIATED once the fic is released there on Sunday. The same goes for kudos and bookmarks on AO3.

Have a wonderful day, everyone, and happy reading!



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