Escaping Self Isolation for the World of Fantasy

Oliver Smuhar

Author Oliver Smuhar. Picture: Brad Thomson.

Oliver Smuhar

Firday, April 3rd 2020

How I managed to create an entire fantasy world during the global pandemic and how reading can help you escape the strange and depressing times we now live in!

At the end of 2019 I decided to look back on what I had already created and perfect it before continuing my passion for story telling. This means rereleasing my original fantasy epic, The Gifts of Life (2018) with a new cover, new typesetting and creative new ways to treat my readers. However, that's also when the 2019-20 Australian Wildfires begun!

I decided to return to the book I had released during my final year of high school and redo it as an adult. Not only did this allow me to make the best possible product I could offer it also allowed me to accomplish things I didn't have time originally.

I hand drew and painted 36 images for each chapter, remastered my glossary, painted an extra 14 crests that represented the main character's spirit animals, drew several new maps for both cities, Kelton Whide and Everbreen, floor plans for the interior of important locations like Master Othello's House and as a result, felt this sense of immersion. I was sixteen again, dreaming this world as though it were real. It was real!


Paintings, drawing and maps from The Gifts of Life: Colourful Edition.

Then the fires stopped and my family and I decided to take a vacation to celebrate my sister's wedding! It was an amazing time and we were fortunate to experience such an unforgettable trip before the outbreak of 2020. When I returned home a fear unlike anything I had ever felt loomed over Australia. I worked stably for a few weeks until one day I lost one job then the next and after I was stuck inside my home.

Stress from financial difficulties, my insane ambitions and the new online approach to university made it hard to sleep at night. I needed an escape! Australia was slowly locking down… Then I received an email. Sample covers for my new rerelease and they looked amazing.

This triggered something in my mind and I got to writing and editing my debut's sequel. I drew more pictures, drafted plot lines; asked what will the characters learn? What will each city in look like? How will they globalise and differ from one another? Who lives in them?

I remembered my passion for story telling. It was a way for me to put my perspective on things and to show another way of life, another idea, which could in return, help the people around me.

And now I sit here, preparing myself with the rerelease of "The Gifts of Life: Colourful Edition," its sequel, "The Gifts of Happiness," a script for a movie and a Australian tale about the Wildfires. And I ask myself, what was it like writing during this strange time?

I prefer, what was I like escaping the global pandemic? I read and read, edited and changed sentence after sentence. I drew one thing then another, sent email after email and not a single cough tickled my throat. I'm extremely grateful that my family is safe during this time and I would like to offer my condolences to anyone who may have been infected or has lost someone to the virus.

And even though it seems the world is still recovering, I would like to offer another perspective, just like the ones reflected in my books. We are all unique and different and we all have the ability to imagine and escape reality. And even if it is only for a moment, take a book, watch a film, a show, a video on the internet and just take a moment to wash all the craziness of 2020 away. Because in that moment, when the world stops spinning and you can see yourself smiling at something silly, at a loved one, at that calm leisure of time, that's when you'll be able to escape!


Oliver Smuhar and The Gifts of Life's (2018) One Year Anniversary.

Please stay safe, healthy and drink lots of tea. If you'd like to support me, The Gifts of Life: Colourful Edition is set for release June 1st, 2020. Its sequel, The Gifts of Happiness is set for release November 2020.