Emporia Middle School Principal Steven Bazan organized a book-signing event Saturday morning for Hunter Smith, a 13-year-old middle schooler, who had just published his first book “Sky Warriors: The Missing Dragon Wand” with the help of twin sister, Harley, who provided the illustrations.
Smith began writing the novel two years ago when he was in fifth grade. Recalling the year, Smith remembered doing a project called, “did dragons really exist?”
“We were doing a lot of quizzes, a lot of grammar work in fifth grade and we also did a little bit of writing,” he said. “I just started to like writing and it grew on me.”
“Sky Warriors: The Missing Dragon Wand” is about a land called Kestrel Veil that becomes disrupted by a powerful sorcerer named Jack. The Dragon Wand and Dragon Staff are stolen and the dragons have to put aside their differences and come together to get the relics back before Jack gets them to spread evil.
Smith hopes to turn “Sky Warriors” into a series and he is already halfway through writing the second one, “Sky Warriors: Dawn of the Moon.”
“When Hunter was closer to the end of the book, getting done with it he was kind of like, ‘Well, I kind of want to have some illustrations in it,’” Harley said. “... I just started doodling at first because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet. We decided which chapters we wanted to have pictures in, I took some paragraphs out of the chapters and decided where to start.”
Following Hunter’s descriptions, Harley was able to create visuals for chapters throughout the book. Together, they decided they want all the books in the series to have a dragon’s eye for the cover.
Hunter usually tries to write a chapter at a time, then he goes back and rereads a few chapters to see where he left off before writing more. When he finishes, Hunter rereads it again to fix any grammatical errors or punctuation.
“It is really exciting, … it is crazy we are just in middle school and we already have a book published,” Harley said. “There have been a lot of people in school like, ‘Wow, this is so crazy.’”
“I am honestly kind of shocked that I actually did it,” Hunter said. “At first, I thought it was just going to be kind of short and then it just evolved along the way.”
Hunter plans to write 10 books total and hopes to become a novelist when he is older. Harley is unsure if she wants to be an illustrator when she’s older, but she knows for certain that she wants to continue helping illustrate for the rest of Hunter’s books.