A New Chapter
At 15, area author is beginning second novel
With one book under his belt, 15-year-old author Sam Pelelo-Ray is now busily plugging away on number two.
That is, if his homework doesn't get in the way.
"My friends think it's pretty cool that I'm a published author," he said. "They don't always understand why I do it but they think it's pretty cool nevertheless."
Last year, Pelelo-Ray penned and published a science-fiction novella called "Athenrai," through PublishAmerica based in Maryland.
"It began as an assignment for my English class," he said. "The story just kept getting longer and more intricate. And before I knew, I had myself a book."
The premise of "Athenrai" came to Pelelo-Ray in a dream, when he was younger, about a deserted toy store.
"I wondered what was on the other side of the wall of that deserted toy store," Pelelo-Ray imagines. "What lurked behind that wall?"
In "Athenrai," the other side of the wall turns out to be a dark and disturbing kingdom filled with the brainwashed followers of an evil despot.
Pelelo-Ray said he's always enjoyed reading fantasy and sciene fiction, so it was natural for him to turn to the genre in his own writing.
"As I was writing," he said, "I couldn't wait to see what was gonna happen next. I thought that was a good sign, when the author gets excited about the next chapter."
Now he's working a prequel.
"In 'Athenrai,' I was deliberately vague about the origins of the underground kingdoms," he said. "In my new book, I'll really spell out where they originated."
In the book, tentatively titled "Temple Of Ivaria," Pelelo-Ray will write about two teenage protagonists who battle three resistance fighters and an evil warlord with the help of strapping young Army soldier Vince Bridger.
"This is one of the reasons why I enjoy writing fiction," Pelelo-Ray said. "You get to create a whole new society of people and you get to create scary dudes who want nothing more than to destroy the world."
The heroes in his work are average kids his own age who "get to explore the unknown" and use not only brawn, but also brains to fight villains, he added.
"My heroes get to save the world," he said, "at the end of every chapter."
Pelelo-Ray says he's greatly influenced by the satirical writing of the late Douglas Adams, who wrote "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
"When you're asking readers to suspend their beliefs and imagine underground kingdoms," he said, "you might as well do it with a light touch."
"And if your characters must do battle with evil warlords," Pelelo-Ray added, "they might as well have a good time doing it."
Although he realizes many people would like to write the "Great American Novel," few have the patience or the discipline to follow through.
"My friends like to write," he said. "They'll begin a story only to give up after a few days. If I have any advice for aspiring writers it is to stay focused. If you have a story to tell, tell it."
He hopes to have his next book out by 2009.
*Earl Horlyk writes for the Le Mars Daily Sentinel and contributes to the Assosicated Press and the Pilot-Tribune.