Meet the Newest Member of Aphotic Realm

Dustin Schyler Yoak and I [A. A. Medina] love sorting through all the submissions we get, but as writers ourselves, we were left with little-to-no time to work on our own projects. With that said, for the past few weeks, we’ve had some help when it came to reading, editing, and discussing our pile of submissions. We believe it is now the time to publicly introduce the newest member of the Aphotic Realm editorial team!


We asked him a few questions, we hope you enjoy!

AR: Let’s keep the first one simple: Where are you from and where are you now?

CM: I’m originally from Alabama. I grew up in a rural county and the majority of my formative years were spent in the small town of Gordo. I currently reside in Peoria, Arizona with my fiancée of 2 years.

AR: People who know you personally, know that you’re a Dungeons & Dragons aficionado. As a veteran Dungeon Master for over a decade, you’ve done a lot of world-building. Do you have a method for it? Macro then micro or visa-versa? What do you look for in a story when it comes to world-building?

CM: In the years I’ve been a Dungeon Master (time which has been inconsistent mind you) I have attempted to focus on a single world that I hope to reveal in novel form one day. That being said, I find myself flipping back and forth between macro then micro and back again. However, I usually start with a character idea and then things are revealed to me as I write or develop. It’s almost as if I myself begin to travel through the world I’m creating and discovering these things as I go. In terms of the game world, development is helped along by the players when they create interesting characters with back stories that I can expound on and determine how they fit into the world at large.

The story I try to create, as I’m building the world, is one that has a history. What past events shaped things as they currently are? Why is this person in power? Who is this group of people and what is their purpose? When I build I sometimes end up with more questions than answers. This is a good problem to have though as it keeps the ideas flowing.

After the story is written and the foundation is laid, the hard part comes. Drawing out landscapes and maps, creating cityscapes and roadmaps, are the parts I struggle with at times.

AR: Who is your favorite author of all time?

CM: J. R. R. Tolkien is my favorite of all time. Mr. Tolkien put a lot of thought into his creation. He created languages for the races, a mythology for the world, everything. The man even created alphabets and drew his own maps. His creation inspired Dungeon and Dragons as well as many other authors.

AR: Should have figured that… Moving on. If you could witness and/or experience any event in the past, present, or future, what would it be and why?

CM: This is a difficult question to answer. I would have to say out of the past, I would want to witness the events leading up to the American Civil War. I feel I would gain knowledge and understanding on all the points that resulted in that conflict.

AR: When reading a short story, what is the number one thing you look for?

CM: Plot. I bore easily, so the story needs to start with a good hook that draws me in.

AR: Favorite genre? If you could become a fictional character, who would it be?

CM: Favorite Genre is high fantasy. Given the choice it would either be Aragorn son of Arathorn, or Drizzt Do’Urrden.

AR: Why those characters?

CM:  These two characters represent a set of core values that I try to live by. They come across as honorable and willing to go to great lengths to help their people or their friends. They have heart.

AR: Any writing pet peeve that instantly annoys you or turns you off from reading that story?

CM: Extremely horrible grammar or stupid characters.

AR: What would classify as a stupid character? A purposeful but annoying quirk, pointless to the story or one that constantly takes you out of the narrative?

CM: Stupid in the sense that they don’t serve any purpose for driving the story. They have no qualities apart from occupying the page.

Any more questions, gentlemen?

AR: What’s your Social Security Number?

CM: *Jedi hand gesture* You don’t need my Social Security Number.


We are extremely pleased to bring Chris into the fold here at AR!
– Aphotic Realm Editors