Through a Field of Stars
Brian John Skillen, is a professional filmmaker, author, and international dance instructor. His many adventures around the world have strongly influenced his life, but nothing has affected him more than his pilgrimages along the Camino de Santiago. He was first inspired to write the Through a Field of Stars trilogy on his pilgrimage in 2017, where he was told about the clues the Knights Templar left behind on the Camino de Santiago.
Since 2017 he has walked over 1,000 miles across Spain doing research for the trilogy. He has walked the miles his characters have walked and learned the lessons they have learned. All of the characters in the novel that aren’t based on historical people are based on pilgrims Brian met on his Camino. Brian’s goal with the trilogy is to inspire one million people to take a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.
He tells us more about in this guest post. Over to Brian!
Have you ever seen something so amazing it changed your life in an instant?
In 2017, I took an epic pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. I saw many amazing things, but when I first saw the Arc of San Anton, I knew my life would never be the same. To me, it looked like something that could only exist in a movie or a novel. Stepping through the Arc was like stepping into another world. Something about me and my life changed as I emerged on the other side.
I didn’t know it then, but that was a defining moment for me as a person. I didn’t know that after stepping through the Arc of San Anton, I would hang up my dance shoes and trade them in for a story. I didn’t know that I would face one of my biggest fears and achieve something that I thought was impossible…
Just past the Arc of San Anton is the city of Castrojeriz—a hilled city with the ruins of a castle on top. Once again my breath was taken away. When I first saw the city, I thought, My God, someone has to write a book about this place! Little did I know I was going to be that someone.
Every Camino is like a lifetime—you begin as one person and end up leaving as someone completely different.
The Knights Templar
At the albergue (pilgrims Shelter), I looked at my credencial (pilgrims passport) and noticed that the stamp for the city was the cross of Jerusalem. After seeing some Knights Templar symbology at the Arc of San Anton and in the city, I made a comment about the Templars. The hospitalero (person who runs the hostel) raised an eyebrow and asked, “What do you know about the Knights Templar?”
This question led to a long discussion about the importance of the Templars on the Camino de Santiago and in Castrojeriz. The hospitalero told me that there used to be several Templar commanderies in the city, and that the entire hill was hollowed out with tunnels that the Templars had used for rituals and to store their treasure. As we were finishing, he lowered his voice and told me to look for the clues that the Templars had left behind on the Camino.
The next morning I woke up with the hospitalero’s stories still in my head. As I was leaving the town, I did something significant that has changed my life. I took my most valuable possession—my dance shoes—from my backpack and left them at a second-hand store. I said to the world, “I will trade these in for a story.” This may not seem like such a big deal, but for someone who has been a professional dancer for the past twenty years, it was huge. This was my symbolic gesture of stepping into a new time in my life.
Every day after I made that declaration, the people I met and the experiences I had, all came together to form The Way: Through a Field of Stars.
There was only one problem though, I grew up with dyslexia and a third-grade reading and spelling level in highschool—who was I to write a book?
Writing the story
However, once it has been unleashed, nothing can stop inspiration. On the Camino, I woke up every morning before the sun and walked under the stars. As I hiked, The Way: Through Field of Stars played like a movie in my head, and I dictated exactly what I was seeing into my phone.
By the end of my Camino, I had the entire story outlined in an audio format. Now, I had to face my biggest fear, actually writing the book down on paper.
I mix up letters in words, and I didn’t learn the rules of grammar—so writing a book was something I never thought I would do. As I returned home, I committed to writing 2,000 words a day no matter what. At first it was incredibly hard and took a very long time—as I had to teach myself the rules of grammar. But, I stayed committed—and within three months, I had finished the first draft of my novel. I thought it was perfect, however as most of you know, the Camino doesn’t always provide what you want, but exactly what you need to fulfill your life’s purpose.
When I showed the book to my girlfriend (who is now my wife), she answered honestly and said it needed some work. After learning more about editing and publishing, we reached out to fifty agents and all we got in return were two rejection letters and forty-eight other agents that didn’t even bother to write back.
In 2020, we realized the book was as far as we could take it ourselves so we ran a Kickstarter to hire professional editors, formatters, designers, etc. We raised $10,000 in presells on Kickstarter and since publishing The Way: Through a Field of Stars, it has won an Eric Hoffer Award in the Spiritual Fiction category and has also reached the #1 Amazon Bestseller spot in several categories.
My wife and I are currently launching the second book in the series Back: Through a Field of Stars on Kickstarter until July 9, 2021. Follow our Kickstarter link to get both books and support the creation of a new novel. Also, if you are interested in how we launch books on Kickstarter, you can join our free group on Facebook—Kickstarter to Amazon Best Seller. We believe in a life of contribution and are happy to share some of the things we have learned along the way.
My wife and I returned to the Camino in 2019 and my favorite phrase to say was Soy escritor. I declared that “I am a writer” in Spanish, long before I did in English. I hope your Caminos bring you as much growth, inspiration, and love as mine did—Buen Camino!
Some of our favorite Spanish words and phrases we use on the Camino
Zumo de naranja – Fresh squeezed orange juice
Tortilla – an egg dish they serve at breakfast
Leche de soja – Soy milk
¿Dónde está el albergue municipal? – Where is the state run hostel (these are usually the most cost efficient)
¿Cuándo es la misa? When is the Mass?
Zumo de naranja
Leche de soja
¿Dónde está el albergue municipal?
¿Cuándo es la misa?
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