TurtleMe is the pen name of a former Berkeley graduate who discarded his identity as a corporate worker when he found success as a fantasy author at Tapas Studios. As a web serial author for over three years, TurtleMe mixed traditional literature with fast-paced installments into his novel The Beginning After the End, an epic fantasy about the rebirth of a king into a new life of magic and twisted fate. Both the prose and digital comics version of the series has millions of readers and fans worldwide.
We present TurtleMe's first-ever interview about his work.
What was the inspiration behind The Beginning After the End?
No inspiration really—it's not something fancy like that. If anything, writing The Beginning After the End was an outlet for me.
After graduating college and beginning my career at a stable company, I found myself more and more dreading my daily life. I was on the so-called "track for success" that my parents had me growing up to believe, but it really didn't feel like it. I was coming home from work, exhausted but always finding myself drawn to the world of whatever fantasy novel, comic, manga, or web fiction I was reading at the time. At one point, I remember driving to Starbucks on my way home from work, opening my laptop, and just writing the first few chapters of a story I wanted to get lost in. And that story turned out to be what is now called, The Beginning After the End.
What made you decide to create the comic version?
While many self-published authors dream of their indie book getting recognized and picked up by an agent or a big publisher, I didn't really think that far ahead while writing The Beginning After the End. I loved writing and releasing chapters on a weekly basis and then reading comments (both good and bad) of what my readers thought of that week's installment. So when Gabby at Tapas Media reached out and asked what I thought about adapting my story into a comic, I started remembering all of the manga's and comics that I had read that got me here in the first place and it just felt like a natural direction for me to head in.
Now that the novel series is complete, how does it feel to adapt the rest of it into a comic?
The novel actually isn't complete, while we are finally getting closer to the finish line. However, the novel is so much more ahead of the comic that it feels like I'm looking into the future every time I write a chapter of the novel, and I certainly do take advantage of that very fact. I make sure to add in details that would become important in the future and even foreshadow events that'll happen way later even though I didn't in the book. It feels like I'm cheating sometimes, but I want to show readers how much I've grown as a writer by going back into the story in the form of the comic and telling a much more cohesive narrative!
How has working on this series changed your life knowing you're a full-time creator with a huge fanbase?
To be honest, because I'm not very active on social media and I've kept my face anonymous, it didn't feel real to me at first, no matter how much TBATE grew. And to an extent, the subscriber counts just felt like a number I wanted to see grow. It was actually recently when I had a bit of a health scare and I had to tell my readers that I won't be able to write for a few months that it really dawned on me how awesome my fanbase was. Every single one of them encouraged me to take as long of a break as possible and even (jokingly) threatened me not to write while I was still healing. Rather than the raw number that made up my fanbase, it was how much each of these readers cared about me that made me stop caring about how many new subscribers I got on Tapas or how many views the new episode got. It took a while, but I really was able to appreciate the people behind the other side of the screen, tuning in to read The Beginning After the End every week.
Have you thought about what your next project will be?
Yes! I'm already piecing together a new story in a brand-new world that I'm quite excited for. Just like The Beginning After the End, I want to continue writing stories that people want to get lost in, whether it's because they're just killing time or because they're in a difficult place in their lives. Hopefully this new story will do that as well.