Over the last few years many friends and fans have asked me questions concerning my decision to become an author. The inquiries come in all shapes and sizes, but without doubt there is one question that I get - in one form or another - more than any other.
So how did “Dylan Murphy and the Magic Touch,” come to be?
That answer is not as straightforward as one might think. Years ago, I noticed that my middle-school children had very minimal interest in reading. I was sure this situation was absolutely normal, and that there were many other households as well where the boy would rather play video games until the wee hours of the dawn, and the girl would rather hypnotize herself watching endless television shows on Nickelodeon or Disney Channel.
I decided to take a look at what the school system was mandating as take-home reading assignments. I found books like Animal Farm, written by George Orwell, but nothing that was just pure fun and exciting. And let’s face it, if you want kids to learn to enjoy reading, you can’t make all reading assignments too deep and/or too much of a chore.
Additionally, the reading assignments were always tasked with strings attached, such as: “Explain three obstacles you feel the main character had to overcome to achieve success?” or “At the end of each Chapter write a 300 word essay summarizing the main plot?” or “Once your assignment is complete you will need to write an extensive report, with illustration, explaining why you enjoyed or disliked this story.”
To this day I have not seen a literature reading assignment that the school system provided (during the school year) that simply stated: “Enjoy this wonderful book, and we’ll verbally discuss or debate in the classroom next week.” Wow what a concept ... ask your pupils to enjoy a leisure reading assignment once in a while. After all, most folks read for leisure at home. It's a great outlet to reduce the stresses of everyday life. I’m sure you would all agree that it is in everyone’s nature to take part in activities they enjoy. Unfortunately, it seemed that every opportunity my children had to read was more or less considered a chore.
When I asked my children specifically why they weren’t reading, the answer was pretty much what I had expected: “I don’t relate to the characters, or the places, or the underlying theme Dad,” meaning that the story did not capture, nor keep their attention.
At that point I made the conscious decision to write an action-packed, fast paced, fantasy adventure novel, and Dylan Murphy was born! I then proceeded to outline my first story with some specific, self-imposed ground rules:
1) No chapter could exist merely for the purpose of character development.
2) Every chapter needed to contain action, or excitement.
3) In order to capture the interest of younger readers (middle school age) the first several chapters of book one were to be purposely written at a lower reading level. Once Chapter 5 or 6 had begun, the level of writing was systematically elevated, knowing at that point that I had gotten their full interest. They now had a vested stake in the story and a reason to complete it.
4) The tale was to revolve around relatable characters, and to take place in the present day.
5) The books would not contain any obscene language or graphically descriptive sexual adult encounters.
6) Whenever possible, I would use real world venues to further keep their attention. My thoughts were: “there is nothing better than reading a scene ... unfolding somewhere ... that one had actually visited or could visit, like a real mall or city center.”
7) Highlight Colorado venues whenever possible. Entice the reader to want to visit Vail, or the Air Force Academy, or Denver's 16th Streer Mall, or the Broadmoor Hotel, etc.
8) Lay down a groundwork that allows for a series of books. I must admit I overachieved on this last point. The third book is already underway, and a total of thirteen books are available to pursue in the future, all encompassing the Eldora Chronicles.
Once the first book was published, there was an extremely positive response from kids and parents alike. The first story had appealed to both older and younger readers. They wanted more, so work began on the second novel, “Dylan Murphy and the Harvest Moon.”
Once again the story and characters took us on an extremely fast-paced, magic carpet ride. Upon completion, the books began selling not only in the U.S., but overseas as well. Once again, they wanted more, so “Dylan Murphy and the First Power,” is now in production mode.
I sincerely hope that you too enjoy these stories, and find the time to share them with your family.