Twenty-five-year-old Curtin student Robert Kooy has achieved something many people only dream about – writing his own novel – and he has done it using voice recognition software.
Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings), Raymond E. Feist (The Magician), Peter V. Brett (Demon Cycle) and Paul Hoffman (The Left Hand of God), The Master of Names follows a 16-year-old boy named Plum who is thrust into an adventure to find five keystones that have the power to protect the land of Lore from the Dark Wizards Guild.
Kooy, who has cerebral palsy, which makes it difficult for him to type, wrote the book over three years using Dragon for Mac software with help from editors Lucy Boon and Kylie Kempton. Astonishingly, Kooy says he wrote the first eight chapters in one sitting.
“I was talking non-stop for nearly eight hours,” Kooy says. “I came away still writing, because the ideas were still flowing and I was really enjoying it.”
Cover art by Julia Elms.
Kooy sent The Master of Names to a number of publishing houses, but was ultimately unsuccessful in getting it published. Eventually, he decided to self-publish to Amazon.
“The publishers thought it was a good book, but they just didn’t take to it,” Kooy says.
“Self-publishing is a bit of an effort, particularly with fantasy. You really have to market your book and I haven’t had enough time to do that because I’ve been uni-entrenched.”
Fortunately for Kooy, he is about to get a whole lot more free time after completing the final exam of his Japanese course, which he started four years ago, inspired by his love of Japanese anime series such as Digimon, Pokémon and Sailor Moon.
“My lecturers, like Asano-Cavanagh–sensei, have been accommodating and lovely. I’m also really greatful to my private tutors for their ongoing support through the course and to the Curtin Disability Services staff, particularly my disability advisor Jackie Weinman, who provided me with a native Japanese speaker who took notes for me during lectures,” he says.
“Learning Kanji [the Japanese characters] has been a constant challenge. It’s been great having such a supportive university help me achieve my dreams of learning a language.”
Kooy enjoyed his Japanese studies so much that he self-funded an exchange opportunity to Kanazawa University in Ishikawa Prefecture on Honshu island for five months.
The experience was eye opening for Kooy, who was required to speak very formally to his tutors, tested almost every single day and expected to show up to class even when sick.
“I went mainly there for the experience of being in a different culture. My classes in Japanese at Curtin were really beneficial, but nothing can prepare you for being thrown in the deep end, because that’s all part of the experience. I had to keep pinching myself to remind me where I was,” he says.
Although he admits that life can sometimes be difficult because of his disability, he says he has never thought of himself as being unique in battling against the odds.
“Everyone has their own odds, which they have to face. Everyone has their own fight, which they have to battle, whether it’s dealing with a difficult relationship at home or trying to get into university,” says Kooy.
“I don’t really think my disability defines who I am. I believe that I’ve broken beyond that and become something quite different.
“You’re at this stage in life at university where you have the freedom to travel and do things. I think if there’s something you really want to do, just go on and do it.”
The Master of Names is the first book in The World of Lore Chronicles.