From a young age, it seemed like everything that came out of Aleron Kong’s mouth was in the form of a question: Why is water wet? What are shadows made of? How do fish breathe underwater? These questions were most often directed at Kong’s big sister, Jill, who did her best to answer him. But even big sisters need a break sometimes.
One day, in desperate need for peace and quiet, she handed her then 5-year-old brother the first book she could find. It was a well-worn, dog-eared copy of “A Spell for Chameleon,” by Piers Anthony. It wasn’t exactly kids’ reading material, but that didn’t matter. “I started reading it and I couldn’t put it down. It opened up whole new worlds of imagination, adventure, and magic for me,” said Kong.
Fast-forward 30 years, Kong had graduated from Morehouse College, finished med school, and was working as an internal medicine physician at a hospital in Atlanta. Life was good. Yet something was missing. “I still felt like I needed something to balance out the sort of highly analytical side of myself,” he said.
Science-fiction fantasy books had long been his escape. One day as he scrolled through Amazon.com for his next book, he discovered a new genre: LitRPG or Literature Role Playing Game. The books combine Sci-Fi Fantasy with Kong’s other passion — video games. “It gives you that feeling that you are playing a video game even though you’re just reading or you’re hearing it in an audiobook,” Kong said.
He devoured every book in the genre that he could find. “And I was bemoaning the fact that there weren’t more LitRPG books and I figured I’d give it a shot.”
Taking in his backyard view of trees and wildlife, Kong turned on some 1980s rock, sat down at his computer, and started writing. “It was daytime, and when I finally looked up, it was nighttime, and I didn’t know where the last eight hours had gone,” Kong said. He wrote his first six books in 14 months. “I was exhilarated. It was an excitement that I hadn’t felt in a long time.”
Kong uploaded manuscripts for each book to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). “You make a profile and upload your stuff and boom, you’re an author.” Publishing takes less than five minutes, and books appear on Kindle stores worldwide within 24 to 48 hours. Authors also keep control of their rights and set their own list prices.
“Writing these books has completely changed the trajectory of my life.”
Beyond writing his own books, Kong continues to help grow the genre. He engages his readers through social media and encourages other LitRPG fans to write their own next chapters. “And now you’ve got countless authors publishing in the genre.”
Kong has been in the top 100 by author rank on Amazon, and named on Audible’s best of 2018 list. His book, "The Land: Raiders," earned the “Customer Favorite” title of the year.
“Writing these books has completely changed the trajectory of my life,” Kong said. “It’s letting me live a real-world fantasy where I’m doing what I dreamed of doing when I was a child, that I always felt was completely beyond reach. I am confident in saying that I’m the only doctor who has become a LitRPG author.”