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Man embraces parallel lives of fantasy novelist, grandfather

March 10, 2018

In this Feb. 14, 2018 photo, Charles Embrey Jr., and his wife Barbara pose with his books, "The Lost Keep" and "Beyond the Black River Styx," in Elizabethtown, Ky. Embrey Jr. exists in parallel universes. In one, he's married to Barbara Embrey, works as a pathologist assistant in Elizabethtown and is a grandpa to six. His other universe has dragons, female elf rangers, warrior princesses and Clovis, a protagonist who was chosen at 7 years old by the goddess Athena to be a holy warrior. (Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — Charles Embrey Jr. exists in parallel universes.

In one, he’s married to Barbara Embrey, works as a pathologist assistant in Elizabethtown and is a grandpa to six.

His other universe has dragons, female elf rangers, warrior princesses and Clovis, a protagonist who was chosen at 7 years old by the goddess Athena to be a holy warrior.

Charles Embrey is the author of “The Lost Keep” and “Beyond the Black River Styx.” He’s working on his third fantasy novel titled “Eternal Midnight.”

As an 18-year-old in the U.S. Air Force, he started playing Dungeons & Dragons.

“It was a great way to use your imagination,” he said.

Before long, he started writing his own Dungeons & Dragons adventures. Then, he met and married the love of his life. He worked extra jobs to support his family, and Dungeons & Dragons took a back seat.

When he left the Air Force 15 years ago, Barbara Embrey suggested he needed a hobby.

Writing seemed perfect. “He’s got a great imagination,” she said.

He wanted to write a book for his 2-year-old granddaughter, Abigail. She became a blond princess in “The Lost Keep.”

“It felt like I was 18 again, playing (Dungeons & Dragons),” he said.

Writing literary masterpieces doesn’t interest him. “I want to take my readers on an adventure. I want them to have fun.”

His books sell on Amazon. He’s heard from fans in the Middle East, Germany and England, so his novels have sold around the globe.

As a rule, he writes about an hour a day after work. His thoughts go down -- longhand -- on paper first.

“I don’t type well,” he confessed. “Once a story starts going, I don’t want to slow down.”

Next, he reads the book aloud to his wife.

“If I don’t feel it, I’m going to tell him,” Barbara Embrey said.

He then transcribes his notebooks to a Word document, and she edits it.

Sometimes, inspiration hits at odd moments. Charles Embrey has written notes to himself on napkins, old envelopes and the tail of his T-shirt. He also sends himself texts and emails so he won’t lose out on ideas.

He’s on a deadline for “Eternal Midnight.” It must be finished by Aug. 2, when Gen Con -- the world’s longest running gaming convention -- takes place in Indianapolis.

Last year, about 70,000 people attended. The Embreys dress up as characters and rent a booth for his books.

His next event will be an author’s meet-‘n’-greet at 5 p.m. March 22 at Hancock County Public Library.

Charles Embrey’s books are written for kids and young adults, but he thinks anyone will enjoy them.

“It’s all about human conflict,” he said. “Sure, it has dragons and magic, but it’s human conflict.”

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Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, http://www.messenger-inquirer.com

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