B.A., Creative Writing
Oren Ashkenazi grew up in Hawaii and has wanted to be a writer since his sixteenth birthday, when he realized that becoming an astronaut probably wasn't going to happen. He used to drive his family crazy by making up stories based on whatever television show they were watching at the time (usually Star Trek). In high school, Oren discovered he could write these stories down and show them to other people. Since then he has written a number of short stories, a play, several television scripts, a screen play, and a radio play which was performed by the Voice of Vashon on Halloween, 2010.
Oren attended the Evergreen State College from 2005-2009 and graduated with a BA in creative writing. He dreams one day of being able to support himself on writing, and swears to remain a professional starving artist until then. Oren is an avid player of role playing games and sees them as a weekly exercise in communal storytelling. Nowadays Oren mainly writes for his Web Comic, The Exiled.
Author Fiction, Comics
Latest Publication Title
The Exiled Web Comic
The Exiled is a web comic by Seattle-based writer Oren Ashkenazi and illustrator Lillian Ripley. It is a modern fantasy story set in the Hawaiian islands and follows a tale of intrigue, mystery, and struggle. The characters are a group of exiled mages in one of the few places where gods still walk and schemes from every corner of the magical world threaten on all sides. In addition to the comic itself, Oren has written a number of complementary short stories for those who are interested in learning more about the characters and universe.
The Exiled is a modern fantasy story; set in the present day, it features magic and other supernatural elements. The magical world exists alongside the mundane, its existence hidden from the eyes of mortal men. Like most modern fantasy stories, The Exiled borrows heavily from real world cultures and mythology. Hawaii is the perfect place for such a story because elements from so many cultures exist in the islands. Hawaiian Mythology by itself is an extremely rich source for storytelling. The comic starts with well known figures like Pele and Maui, but eventually moves on to more obscure deities like Lono and Namaka.
The Fey of Celtic myth also have a strong presence in the story, alongside spirits and oni from Japan, djinns from the Middle East, dragons from China and a host of others. Supernatural creatures like Vampires and Werewolves also make appearances.
However, the story is really about mages: humans with the ability to use magic. Magic can come from a variety of sources; some wizards depend on ancient rites and rituals from days long past, while others rely on inborn talent. Regardless of how their power works, all sorcerers are beholden to one of the world's magical governments and whatever laws they enact. These cabals of powerful mages purport to protect their subjects from the dangers of uncontrolled magic, but in reality the only cause they serve is their own power. Their laws are draconian and unjust, often punishing young mages who are not even aware of them.
Hawaii is one of the few places on Earth where one of these governments does not hold complete sway, and as such it is home to dissidents, criminals, and exiles. To make matters more complicated, there are many places of great power in the islands, and a number of influential figures in the magical world would love to control them. Such an unstable situation cannot last long, and therein lies the conflict.
How did Evergreen help you in your career?
At Evergreen I was able to fully explore various types of writing, and that's the only way to get better. My crowning achievement was writing, workshopping and producing a one-act play titled "Empress of the Waves." It was a terrific experience, and one of the proudest moments of my life. In particular, Jon Robbins of the Theater Department and Bill Ransom (dean at the time) really helped me: the former by holding several excellent contracts with me, and the latter by helping me out of some ugly misunderstandings. Evergreen is also where I met the illustrator for The Exiled, so that's a bonus!