In reality, the basic premise of Espatier came to me when I was fourteen years old. Since then, one way or another, it's been percolating somewhere in the back of my mind, absorbing pertinent experiences, interesting people, new ideas. Because of that long development, mostly subconscious, there are so many people to thank. Countless individuals, directly and indirectly, have influenced me as a writer, and this project in particular. To those numberless people, I extend a warm thanks.

My parents, I'd say, deserve the greatest gratitude. I began writing in a serious capacity at age thirteen, and ever since both my mother and father have been nothing but encouraging. Due to their help and confidence, and the help of my family in general, I was able to publish my first novel in 2012 (Apocalypse, book one of the King of Eden trilogy). My family has shaped me into the writer I am now by starting me on a path that I didn't have to walk alone.

A number of close friends also contributed to this project in crucial ways. Among the many who made this project possible, I'd like to extend my gratitude to LaTreace Giles, who put great effort and time into editing the manuscript, and who gave me some thought-provoking suggestions that made this book far better than it otherwise would have been. I would also like to thank Alexander Mathew Mendoza for helping me with the first three chapters, adding critical insights of his own which also benefited this project immensely. There are many others I could thank for their input and encouragement, too many to list here; nevertheless, they have my deepest gratitude.

There are also a number of individuals who contributed to this project indirectly, to whom I owe much. They include great women and men who put their thoughts and feelings into written form, who shared parts of their souls with the world around them through books and papers, articles and poems, stories and philosophy. Many of them are simply the meek the mild, humble men and women I found in the unlikeliest corners, people who shared their own stories and minds with me. Of this enormous group, though I have met so few of them, I still wish to thank them all.

This book, and the story it has begun, belongs in part to the people who contributed to it—family, friends, other writers and thinkers, and the reader. I hope this is to their liking.

(Cover art by Marina Hunt)