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Teen author begins work on second novel

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sam Pelelo-Ray is busily plugging away at his second sci-fi novel despite the fact that he hasn't yet started his sophomore year at Le Mars Community High School. His first book, "Athenrai," is available as a special order item at local book stores.
Ever want to write the Great American Novel?

Sam Pelelo-Ray did just that, and now he's busily plugging away on book 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," says the soon-to-be Le Mars Community High School sophomore. "They don't always understand why I do it but they think it's pretty cool nevertheless."

Last year, the fifteen-year-old Pelelo-Ray penned and published a science-fiction novella called "Athenrai."

"It began as an assignment for my English class," he recalls. "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 I was younger, I had a dream about a deserted toy store," he recalls, "and for some reason, I always remembered it."

"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.

Not your typical Toys R Us, huh?

"I've always enjoyed reading about fantasy and science fiction," Pelelo-Ray explains. "I also enjoy creating mysterious new worlds. So 'Athenrai' seemed like a natural for me."

An avid reader, he admits he was a newcomer when it came to writing.

"My dad's a former English teacher," Pelelo-Ray relates, "so he always encouraged me to read. But writing? I don't think I'd ever tackle anything so ambitious if it hadn't started as a school assignment."

"But as I was writing," he smiles, "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."

Pelelo-Ray secured a publisher, PublishAmerica, who agreed to print his maiden effort.

"I thought it would be a situation where I'd give out books to friends and family members," he laughs, "and then the remainders would sit in boxes, just collecting dust."

To Pelelo-Ray's surprise, "Athenrai," available at www.amazon.com, www.bn.com, as well as a special order item locally, began selling copies.

He wasn't exactly giving J.K. Rowling a run for her money but his "toy store tome" was slowly turning a profit.

"People were actually buying my book," Pelelo-Ray says, sounding slightly astounded, "and enjoying what they read ... or at least I hope they were."

"My parents still have a box of 60 books collecting dust," he admits, "but I'm glad people have had the opportunity to read my work."

With Pelelo-Ray's first book under his belt, what's next for the aspiring young writer?

Can you say "sequel?"

"Well, actually, my next book will be a PREQUEL," he corrects. "In 'Athenrai,' I was deliberately vague about the origins of the underground kingdoms. 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.

"All of the stories and all of the characters connect and interconnect somewhere in the story," he explains. "How they do so is surprising because alliances will shift frequently."

"(My new book) is a prequel in that it tells the back story," he adds. "But the book will stand by itself. You don't have to know 'Athenrai' to understand 'Temple of Ivaria.' If you've read the original book, you might not even see the connection. But if you do, you'll be saying: 'Hey, this cool! So THAT'S how that happened!'"

"This is one of the reasons why I enjoy writing fiction," Pelelo-Ray maintains. "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."

"That's always a lotta fun," he smiles.

Another plus, Pelelo-Ray says, is that the heroes of both of his books are his own age.

"My heroes aren't super heroes," he notes. "They're just average, everyday kids who find themselves tested in ways they could never imagine."

"They get to explore the unknown," Pelelo-Ray continues, "and fight the big, important battles."

"My heroes get to save the world," he chuckles, "at the end of every chapter."

Pelelo-Ray is quick to note that his heroes fight evil warlords using not only their brawn, but their brains as well.

"That's what I hope to bring out in my new book," he suggests. "My characters are not only brave but they're also smart and funny."

Pelelo-Ray says he's greatly influenced by the satirical writing of the late Douglas Adams ("Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe").

"When you're asking readers to suspend their beliefs and imagine underground kingdoms," he explains, "you might as well do it with a light touch."

"And if your characters must do battle with evil warlords," Pelelo-Ray adds, "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 allows. "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. Stay true to your passion, stay true to your vision."

Pelelo-Ray intends to stay true to his passion for "Temple of Ivaria," at least until 2009.

"I hope to have it published during my senior year of high school," he says. "It'll take me a full year to write it and full year to make revisions."

Does Pelelo-Ray want to save the world?

"Nah," the modest novelist laughs. "But I'd love to create my own world and create my own cast of good guys and my own cast of bad guys."

"That way," Pelelo-Ray says, smiling, "I get to save the world using only my wits and my imagination."

"Athenrai," a novella written by Le Mars writer Sam Pelelo-Ray may be purchased at www.amazon.com, www.bn.com, www.publishamerica.com, and on special order at most local book stores.

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