Former BYU volleyball player discovers passion for writing fiction

Addie Blacker
Tanner Skabelund holds his self-made map of the fictional world where “The Dying Gods Trilogy” takes place. (Addie Blacker)

Tanner Skabelund had played volleyball at BYU for three and a half years when a serious shoulder injury interrupted his athletic career. Instead of despairing, he decided to use his newfound free time to pursue a new hobby — writing.

Skabelund, a senior majoring in business, said he has loved reading since he was a child. He figured if reading meant so much to him then he should try his hand at writing his own stories.

Skabelund said his primary project is a three-book epic fantasy entitled “The Dying Gods Trilogy.” The story follows hero Avior as he travels across five kingdoms in a quest to free humankind from enslavement. Skabelund said he draws inspiration from his favorite books, Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” as well as some lesser-known titles.

He said his first distinctly positive experience with writing was his freshman Writing 150 class. Skabelund credited his professor, Debbie Harrison, with teaching him how to incorporate his own voice in his writing. With a professor encouraging him to be creative and look beyond traditional academic parameters, Skabelund realized his talent for the first time.

“I like writing, and if I write about something that I love, I’m really good at it,” Skabelund said. “If you have a story to share and you’re passionate about it, don’t shy away from it. We live in a world where too many people get talked out of their dream, and I almost got  talked out of mine.”

Skabelund decided to minor in creative writing and has since had many opportunities to work on his fantasy series for his courses.

Skabelund said he likes the fantasy genre because it teaches lessons and relates to real life while still telling a captivating story.

“If you’ve ever read a really good book, when you finish that last page and you realize that it’s over, there’s a hurt like you’ve lost a loved one,” he said. “That hurt is what really made me want to write a story.”

Skabelund said he will graduate next April and that during his remaining time at BYU, he plans to participate in BYU’s Y Fiction club to receive feedback on his novel. He is currently researching various publishing options and said he would love to write full time.

“Writers have a unique ability to impact people beyond their own reach,” Skabelund said. “If (I) write something that’s really worth reading, then maybe a hundred years into the future, when I’m not around anymore, my book will still be able to influence people.”

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