In Spring 2017, I was just coming out of my first year of college. The last few weeks of the semester had been particularly challenging. On top of navigating the usual end-of-year exams and papers, I was grieving the death of a close family member. The end of the school year also meant moving back to my childhood home again after nearly a year of living independently (more or less), and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that either. In other words, it was a time with many significant transitions, and I was struggling to make sense of it all.
Enter Breath of the Wild.
I was a little late to the party, given that the game had already been out for two months by the time I finished my first year of college, but I didn’t care. The Legend of Zelda series had been a favorite of mine ever since I was introduced to The Wind Waker as a young teen. This new entry in the franchise seemed to combine all of my favorite adventuring and puzzle-solving elements into one incredible package, and I was practically bouncing with excitement at the thought of exploring this new world.
It was love at first sight when I walked out onto the game’s first breathtaking vista over the Kingdom of Hyrule. I think some part of me knew from that moment that Breath of the Wild would become my new favorite.
The more I played Breath of the Wild, the more I wanted to create something that gave me the same feelings of both wonder and comfort. It started with a simple question: What would happen if we flipped the roles of the main characters, Link and Zelda? What if our Chosen Hero was a female swordswoman tasked with protecting a prince with a magical power?
My brain refused to let go of that question, and it eventually spawned a fantasy novel, the first draft of which I wrote in Fall 2017. It would be several years and many revisions before I finally wrote a version I felt fully proud of in 2021. “Project Quest,” as I began calling it, is still the story closest to my heart for many reasons, and though it looks vastly different from its original draft, Breath of the Wild still remains one of my primary inspirations. Whenever I felt stuck in writing, I would return to that game and remember how I felt playing it. And I would ask: How can I do this too?
The three main characters from Project Quest: Adrien, Myrina, and Silas.
Art commissioned from @EmilyE_Draws on Twitter
And so it is rather appropriate that today, Breath of the Wild‘s long-awaited sequel, Tears of the Kingdom, is being released after 6 years.
I have just finished drafting “Project Quest #2,” because I learned the story I wanted to tell couldn’t be contained in just one book. This sequel (Book 2 of a trilogy, most likely) clocks in at 135,000 words, which is the longest single thing I’ve ever written. I’m still baffled by it. And again, while this story has a long way to go, I feel like I have also come full circle. Today, I will get to return to the world that started this journey for me.
The past year has also brought some significant change in my life, much like how I felt in 2017. Some of these changes have been more welcome than others, but it all leaves me feeling nostalgic in a way I can’t quite define. I often find myself returning to favorite books, shows, and games for a sense of stability and comfort.
I have changed, and I know Hyrule has changed too since the last time I visited it. And still, this afternoon when I pick up the controller and turn on Tears of the Kingdom for the first time, I know it will feel like greeting an old friend.
I am ready to return home.