Epic fantasy a social commentary on absence of empathy and altruism and rediscovering faith that’s long been lost

The world was their creation until they sought to destroy it.

San Antonio, TEXAS – As long as there is light, there is hope. This sentiment and more abound in author Mark A. Alvarez’s debut novel, “Dutybound,” (June 22, Books Fluent), in which discovering faith and morality culminate in an epic fantasy where we are encouraged to destroy the beliefs that limit us and our destinies.

Readers will dive into the world Terestria and its Virtues, heirs of nobility forced to face the Sins of their forefathers and bring their world from the brink of Darkness. Among them is Lucia, High Maiden to the province of Moz and chosen of the Light Wings. This ancient relic, bestowed upon a long-forgotten civilization by the Light itself, was forged to harbor the Light’s essence if Terestria’s balance were threatened by the Darkness’ desire to corrupt its most-prized creation: Life. If successful and the long-standing covenant between the Light and its Protectors were ever to be broken, the Darkness would be free to roam Terestria and reclaim the land it had a hand in creating — bringing death and destruction to every corner of the world. With the help of the Light Wings and its power, Lucia must heed its call to assemble the Light’s Virtues and lead them into battle against the very Sins that seek to destroy their world.
“Dutybound” is a journey of self-discovery, as these heroes face conflict both from outside and within themselves. Duty, desire, envy, hope, hate, love, pride and temperance all are challenged within this bold tale that is sure to have readers pondering their own true nature.

“Dutybound: Light Wings Epic Vol. 1”
Mark A. Alvarez | June 22, 2021 | Books Fluent | Fantasy
Paperback | 978-1-953865-10-6 | $16.99 | Hardcover | 978-1-953865-12-0 | $21.99
Ebook | 978-1-953865-11-3 | $5.99

Mark A. Alvarez II is a Hispanic-American born in Houston, Texas. He’s a graduate of Texas State University, where he studied public relations and mass communication. He was an apprentice at the NEW Apprenticeship where he was certified in digital marketing. He is the CEO of Light Wings Promotions LLC, a digital marketing and creative branding agency in San Antonio, Texas, where Mark currently resides.

Follow the author on social media:
Facebook: @maalvarezii
Twitter: @maalvarezii
Instagram: @maalvarezii

In an interview, Mark A. Alvarez can discuss:

  • The inspiration behind the story and his 10+ year journey in developing the novel
  • Crafting and building a fantasy world that doesn’t rely on magic but rather virtue
  • How his passion for music and video games influenced his writing
  • Writing heavily on themes of privilege and knowledge — and their burdens — and how they correlate to our social and political constructs as a civilization
  • How readers will relate to this coming-of-age story and how its themes have laid the groundwork for a sequel

An interview with Mark A. Alvarez

1. What inspired you to write the novel, and why is the story so personal to you?

“Dutybound,” or the Light Wings Epic more specifically, was inspired by a combination of a young boy’s imagination and a variety of personal experiences that had a profound impact on how I viewed my life and the world I lived in. I had survived a gunshot to the face when I was 4 years old, which embedded me with this powerful sense of duty, despite being permanently scarred by the marks it left behind. I was coping with issues at home and at school, where I was very active academically but never really social. I was often bullied for the scars on my face, but I never let that deter me from having faith in myself or in the purpose I believed in. Light Wings was my escape, a world I could create and be my own outside of the life of which I had no control. With my education being seen as my only true escape, I cultivated this story about knowledge and its power to manipulate, distort and limit the beliefs of others while also being the salvation one needs to escape an ill-fated destiny and find life’s true meaning.

2. What was your creative process behind writing a debut novel?

Originally, Light Wings was conceived through a series of storyboards, comic books and various ideas for what I thought would be the perfect role-playing game. Eventually, I started writing out the series by hand, while listening to scores to my favorite video games. To this day, the easiest way for me to write is by listening to instrumental music, usually classical or EDM, and imagining scenes within my head while focusing on the emotions the song provokes. With that, I use the music to fuel the words I write, placing the song’s context into the scene and borrowing the pacing from its rhythm to help me structure my writing. My focus was always more on how I told the story rather than how I wrote it, which is where I think music helped the most. It brought life to the scenes. I definitely would say “Dutybound” would not exist without music. It was and still is the ultimate muse to my craft and provides me with more inspiration than any other external or internal force could.

3. How did music and video games influence that writing process?

My taste in music evolved over the years, but when I was younger, all I listened to was video game scores and classical music. I was fearful of what people would think of my music taste so I kept it to myself mostly, but when listening to the music, I would always find myself daydreaming and imagining different scenarios. I’d say video games played a lot more into the fighting element in my novel. Each of the characters took on a certain role, used a different weapon and had a distinctive fighting style. The fight scenes in “Dutybound” are extremely focused and detailed to demonstrate each of the character’s unique abilities and are also used to help illustrate their cultural upbringing.

4. Do you find world-building difficult? How did you go about crafting a fantasy world from scratch?

Absolutely not. I definitely feel like Terestria was very much inspired by the world we live in. Growing up, I was fascinated with various world cultures and mythologies. I studied much of their art history and thought to create an alternative world, similar to our own, with provinces within different stages of cultural and societal development. I like to think that each of Terestria’s provinces exists within a different era in history when compared to that of Earth’s timeline. I drew inspiration from those eras and imagined their realms as such. However, I worked to make their cultures distinctively different from those we more commonly recognize.

5. What do you hope readers take away from the themes in the novel?

If any theme is apparent in “Dutybound,” it’s that knowledge, power and privilege are all somehow correlated. Knowledge can always be manipulated, distorted and withheld by those who have it and used to either oppress or empower others. This is how knowledge is used in Terestria to control and hold dominion over the populace of every province, but knowledge is also the source of the virtue’s power.

In “Dutybound,” the quest is about discovering the lost knowledge of Terestria’s creation and the source of each of the forces that threaten it; all so the characters can self-actualize the virtue they embody, by looking past the knowledge they had the distinct “privilege” of knowing and into the truth, which is the very key to discovering who they truly are. This makes you question the morality of the Terestrian world leaders and provides you with an allegory to how leaders in our known world have in the past distorted and manipulated the truth to either gain power or to take power from those who deserve it. Another thing to note is the the of coming-to-age or coming-to-power, where knowledge plays a factor in self-determining your identity. Sometimes, we have to look at the darkest parts of ourselves, or experience misfortunes, in order to define what’s right. What we know shapes us more than we realize, and if we don’t pay attention, we might limit ourselves by conforming into ideologies that lack sincerity, compassion, or virtue.

6. Is there going to be a follow-up, and if so, what can readers expect in a sequel?

“Bloodbound” is already in the works. Much of the epic has already been planned and written out, and the themes expand into a much more expansive world. We have yet to see the desert isles of the island nation of Gracile or tundras of the northern province of Argania. Many characters introduced in “Dutybound” will become more prominent in this sequel, and readers will be introduced to a mysterious set of deuteragonists of which the novel will revolve around outside the core trio of the first. Though Lucia will remain the series’ central character, the other virtues will hold more stake in the story, if not just as much. They’ve still got ways to develop as characters, and their individual arcs and relationships with one another will change dramatically. I would say, “Bloodbound” has a different tone, so expect the unexpected. It will be all about defying and rebelling against the expectations you’re born into, as we see the fall and rise of a noble lineage and a war for world dominance.