When Kristopher Jerome started trying to get his first fantasy novel in stores, people didn’t take him seriously because “Wrath of the Fallen” was self-published.
The Oregon State University graduate considered finding an agent and a publisher, but wanted to retain complete creative control over his work.
So Jerome started his own independent publishing house, Dark Tidings Press, and released the book.
The Albany resident now has three other writers in the Dark Tidings stable, and so far, his boutique press has released fantasy and science fiction novels and comic books.
Not bad for a part-time gig.
Jerome works as a sales manager for Albany Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Hyundai on the Santiam Highway. But his brain is always churning out story ideas.
“I carry around a notebook, because I got tired of coming up with good ideas and forgetting them by the time I got home,” Jerome said.
Eventually, he’d love to make Dark Tidings his full-time job.
For now, he carves out time as much as he can during the work week. And nearly every Monday, after taking his toddler to day care, he spends six to eight hours or more writing or completing other tasks for Dark Tidings. Much of that writing is accomplished at Margin Coffee in downtown Albany.
“I really love telling stories. When I was younger, I was coming up with fan fiction or coming up with my own stories,” Jerome said.
He started writing early, back when he was 6 or 7 and growing up in Pendleton.
His mother deemed him too young to use the family computer, so Jerome would dictate stories about the video games he was playing to his grandmother. She would type up his tall tales of Mario and Link from “The Legend of Zelda.”
Jerome became a big fan of Terry Brooks, best known as the author of the “Shannara” series. “He’s still my favorite author. I have all of his books” and almost all of them are signed, Jerome said.
“In middle school, I tried to write a fantasy novel. I got about halfway through. I lost the notebook at a summer camp. That was one of the great regrets of my life,” Jerome said.
He didn’t think that the writing from that lost tome would be anything great, or that he’d mine it for golden ideas, but he still wishes he had the notebook for nostalgic purposes, to see one of his initial sustained bursts of creativity.
While attending Oregon State, Jerome got into movies, and began writing screenplays and doing short films.
A college job as a dishwasher — the mindless scrub, spray and sanitizer grind — led him back into fiction. “How I got through that was creating this fantasy world in my head. I worked through that every single night,” Jerome said.
He worried that he’d never actually follow through with getting the words on the page, though.
To force himself to complete his fantasy work, Jerome took a summer class on pulp fiction novel writing at OSU with instructor Finn John, where participants had to finish a book in four weeks.
“That’s where the first draft of ‘Wrath of the Fallen’ came from,” Jerome said.
He spent the next year editing the book, rewriting it from the ground up.
The novel, about the war between the Gods of Light and the Gods of Darkness, and featuring a paladin on a quest to track down a horde of demons, eventually led to Dark Tidings Press.
Dark Tidings’ logo includes a raven — Jerome also has the bird tattooed on his arm, which includes other writing-based symbols in an inked sleeve.
“Ravens symbolize the quest for knowledge for me,” he said, noting that ravens allowed the Norse god Odin to see all over the world and gather information. Plus, there’s something very Shakespearean about ravens, Jerome added.
Jerome’s favorite part about writing is the first draft.
“That’s the creation. I’m discovering it one word at a time. It feels like I’m reading it for myself,” he said. Characters can surprise him and take an unplanned detour that changes his plot outlines.
“Sometimes, it goes right off the rails,” Jerome said.
Jerome said highlights of being an author were having a booth at Wizard World Comic Con in Portland and doing talks to students in eastern Oregon. He loved the ability of adolescents to dream big.
“They think, ‘I can do this, too,’” Jerome said.
He’s hoping to inspire adults to complete their scribbling plots and sketches, as well.
Jerome plans to recruit other writers and artists to Dark Tidings, so the company can grow.
“I want to have as many people as I can handle,” Jerome said.