As families were starting to gather for Author’s Night, the anticipation was building. “I can’t WAIT to get this book!” one excited boy said under his breath but too excited to fully restrain himself. And he wasn’t alone. The Pinewood Media Center was packed last week as about 50 parents and students gathered to hear from popular Jenison Junior High teacher, Joe Roper, who is a new published author!
Mr. Roper’s book, The Hunter Awakens, was published in July and is a contemporary fantasy adventure about a thirteen year old boy who goes to live with his grandparents only to discover secrets about his family and himself. It is the first book in a trilogy and readers will only need to wait until May of 2015 to read book two!
Pinewood Principal, Rachael Postle-Brown invited Mr. Roper to speak at their annual Author’s Night event as part of their current initiative for students to be more active and have alternatives to watching TV that they can be excited about. She also wanted to bring the idea of becoming a writer a little closer to home, “They know an author. Someone who they see and know actually had a book published….to help with that inspiration of knowing that anything is possible, if they really want to be a writer, they can”.
JR began the writing process for this book back in 2007, finishing the first draft in 2008. Since that time the book has been through many edits and Mr Roper says that 95% of the book is different than that first draft, mostly in the area of dialogue. “It’s been a labor of love for seven years.”
After submitting a short story to Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing and hearing from so many in the short story community how happy they were with their small publishers he decided to give them a try. Now, he’s happy with his choice saying, “it’s more like a literary family” where he enjoys more control than the average author in regards to cover design, editing and even online promotions.
For his first event with students Mr Roper shared his journey to getting published, did a couple readings from the book, gave some great tips on being better writers and led a writing activity all before personally signing books for students. Mr Roper shared that as a young student he struggled with reading and didn’t enjoy it as he grew up. He had certainly never considered writing anything until his sister suggested it to him. It got him thinking, “That would be fun to write something and what if I could write something that would inspire or capture kids who didn’t like to read…what could I do to capture their imagination and show them the amazing stories that are out there that you can access through reading.”
He has certainly captured our students and we’re thrilled that one of our own teachers has had the opportunity to make his dream come true and we hope it inspires our students to do the same!
If you’d like to get your very own copy of The Hunter Awakens you can do so at Amazon!
What a great way to find a new favorite story and support our teachers at the same time!