A BYU graduate with a degree in American studies, who now sells Cheerios for a living, is self-publishing the first book in a series about dragons.
Randall Seeley, a father of four who works in sales and marketing for General Mills, Inc., has released the prologue story to a fantasy series of six books he calls “The Drahiad Chronicles.” His dream of publishing fantasy novels is coming, following many attempts and despite the fact that his studies at BYU and career went in other directions.
“My first book attempt was basically straight plagiarism,” he said, laughing.
Seeley is publishing and editing books he began years ago, one of many authors taking the self-publication route. While publishing a book has been Seeley’s dream since the third grade, he found that self-publication through companies such as Amazon and iBooks can be a double-edged sword.
“You can publish an e-book pretty easy,” Seeley said. “But the downside is that the chances that you become a well-known author are pretty small because anybody can publish a book. It’s cool that people are living and accomplishing their dreams, but there’s a lot of stuff to filter through.”
His series is a take on dragon mythology. He uses the classic concept of a werewolf’s curse but replaces paws and howling with wings and fire. “The Dragonlyst” was published Feb. 24 and sets up the realm of magic and dragons Seeley has created for his readers.
“Since I was a little kid I loved reading fantasy and medieval stuff,” Seeley said. “It’s always been fascinating to me; there was this one time it got to the point where I asked my mom if I could go buy books, and she said, ‘Randy, you’ve spent too much money on books, so no.'”
Seeley explained that after conning his older brother into taking him to the bookstore, he used a check to pay for the five books he set out to purchase. Being only 11 years old and unfamiliar with writing checks, he made a mistake on his first attempt and was forced to void a check, which his father later found.
“I had to confess to my dad that I’d written a check and had bought these books and he was like, ‘So?’ And I realized I’d blown my cover with my mom, and I got busted for buying five fantasy books because I loved them so much,” Seeley said.
Seeley’s parents, Richard and Cindy, explained that he’s had a strong imagination since he was a child. The main reason they cited was that TV did not have a prominent presence in their home. Cindy Seeley admitted she does not enjoy fantasy, and her son’s storytelling abilities surprise her.
“Where did he get those ideas?” Cindy Seeley speculated. “I mean, it’s not my kind of genre, and I said, ‘Well he’s my son, I guess I have to read it,’ and I was shocked that I actually enjoyed it and he was really able to bring these characters to life.”
Due to minimal writing background and limited resources, Randall Seeley has drawn upon friends and family for editing and proofreading. “I performed minor editing and nagging for him to get it published,” said Angel Napit, a friend and former co-worker. “He does a really good job of developing his characters and portraying that the world isn’t black and white. There’s a lot of grey areas, which makes it extremely intriguing.”
Randall Seeley’s book is different from the vast array of hyper-sexualized and overly-violent novels popular today. His book’s content is appropriate for almost all ages but also has heightened suspense and an element of very real danger. “It’s interesting enough without having to be gruesome,” Napit said.
Randall Seeley is not only proving to college graduates not only that a major does not have to define dreams; he is also fulfilling a dream he has had since the third grade.
“I was looking through these old school materials and found this little five-page book I wrote from the third grade,” Randall Seeley said. “I opened it, and my teacher had written, ‘I can’t wait to read a published book from you someday,’ and that’s how long ago this dream started, and I can finally say that I did it.”
Lisa Wilson Seeley, Randall Seeley’s wife, said his biggest struggle is finding the time. Until now Seeley would help put his children to bed and then dedicate the rest of his night to writing. But with three small boys, a new baby only weeks away and a full-time job, his time will be stretched even thinner.
“There’s definite sacrifices, but it was good timing,” Lisa Seeley said. “There are always some nights where I would’ve liked to watch TV with him or spend a bit more time with him, but these are his goals that he wants to do, and in order to do it he’s got to sacrifice some things, and I’ve tried to be a supportive wife.”