Roanoke student co-authors medieval fantasy novel

Power, corruption and a destroyed society trace the pages of a new medieval fantasy novel co-written by a Roanoke College senior.

Inspired by the HBO series "Game of Thrones," Ian LeViness used his creativity to compose the page-turning novel, "Twilight of an Empire."

The novel is set in a medieval world, where 10 characters are challenged with protecting the war torn realm of Gwyneran and starting a new world order.

Writing a novel, while balancing the stresses of college and social life, was quite a challenge for LeViness. In 2011 LeViness sought out Chris Justis, a close friend and a senior at James Madison University, for help with his original draft.

With similar ideas and character plots they composed a detailed outline, and it was only a matter of time before "Twilight of an Empire" took shape.

Writing a novel with more than 105 miles separating LeViness and Justis resulted in frequent emails, text messages and phone calls.

"Our system was basically one person would start with a chapter, and then they'd email their draft to the next person and we keep going every chapter with that set in order,"  LeViness said. "It was a difficult process, but I had help from a few great Roanoke College professors."

Dr. Martha Kuchar, a professor and chair of the College's English department, was one of the instrumental professors in LeViness' editing process.

"It's wonderful to see students take initiative and turn an idea into form," said Kuchar. "Ian is driven to see the book succeed in its final form and confident in his product. His personal satisfaction in his novel will carry him through to the next project."

After about six months of compiling, editing and revising, "Twilight of an Empire" was ready for publication.

However, finding a publisher was another challenge. With more than 20 rejections, LeViness and Justis met with professional editor David Henry Sterry, a New York based author who is called "The Book Doctor." Sterry helped to find a publisher for the book.

LeViness and Justis initially signed a contract with Alphawolf Publishing Co.

"Twilight of an Empire" was for sale on Amazon for four months and more than 100 copies were sold nationwide.

With high hopes for "Twilight of an Empire," LeViness and Justis sought out Sterry again for advice on establishing a bigger market and receiving higher earnings for the book. He encouraged the pair to find a publishing company with a bigger audience and more networking possibilities, which would reduce their out- of-pocket expenses.

The two have since changed their direction and are looking for an agent who can help promote the novel to a larger publisher and audience.

The book still can be purchased through Amazon.

More than 15 different agents have showed interest in promoting "Twilight of an Empire."

LeViness is a Richmond, Va., native and English major who plans on attending graduate school to earn a master's degree in fine arts and creative writing. After the success of "Twilight of an Empire," he hopes to write more novels in the future.

"Don't let anyone say you cannot do something. You just need to have the right motivation and you can do anything you set your mind to," he said.

Published Jan. 23, 2014

About the Author

Allison Shannon '15 of Salem, Va., is a student writer in Roanoke College's public relations office. She is double majoring in English and psychology, and she is a goalie for Roanoke's Women's Lacrosse team.

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