Hunterdon County author Stephen Johnston offers a new adventure in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, starring a fierce, colorful, and somewhat unexpected hero. “VR Nana – Volume 1” is the first book in a series of light novels. The book begins the story of Anna Ruth “Nana” Joyce, an assertive Irish Catholic grandmother who is invited by her entrepreneur grandson to try out her new virtual reality game world, FAILT. Assisted by her grandson Sean, adult daughter Anna and Sean’s office assistant Christine, Nana Joyce dives into the virtual world and reappears as a visibly younger warrior named Rita Marie, with long red hair. and a breastplate bearing the coat of arms of Claddagh.
The adventure begins innocently enough, with Rita acquiring a mysterious ax that improves her stats and gives her super powerful elemental abilities. She ends up putting on an adventure game consisting of herself and an eclectic group of characters. They travel to a border town, only to find that the actors who make up the town’s population have been compromised. As Rita and her group battle the enslaved townspeople, Sean, Anna, and Christine discover in the real world that Nana’s game and life is threatened by someone who seeks to sabotage Sean’s business.
The story is structured like a light novel; a type of novel originating in Japan. They are basically novels with scattered illustrations that depict the characters from the story in a manga / anime style. Furthermore, this story is a genre interpretation specific to the light novel, isekai. This genre usually involves the main character (s) ending up in another world, either in another dimension or, in this case, in virtual reality. Stephen drew on his own light novel reading and was inspired to write his own and draw the illustrations.
The protagonist is inspired by the real life of Stephen Nana, the late Anna Johnston. According to Stephen, “A lot of Anna Ruth / Rita’s quirks and sayings came directly from her. She has always supported my creativity and my passion.
“VR Nana – Volume 1” is printed by BookBaby in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and is available here.
Stephen, a graduate of Rider University, is co-owner of Irish Setter Book Publishing, Tabhair Records and Music Publishing LLC, and SonDad Studios. He co-produced five music albums with his father, a local musician Thomas johnston, including “Travel Companions” soon to be published. Stephen has also written a soon-to-be-released graphic novel based on a cartoon series he’s in the process of creating.