Beyond the walls of reality for West Linn teacher
West Linn High School science teacher Steve Davala tends to stray away from logic and fact when he puts pen to paper in his free time. Instead, he enters the creative realm of fantasy and magic.
"I'm a science teacher so I'm grounded in fact but I also have, you know, that part of my mind that's like 'Let's go out there in imagination land,'" Davala said.
Davala recently released his third book in his Young Adult fantasy series, The Soulkind Series.
His trilogy, which is now complete, includes "The Soulkind Awakening," "The Shadow of the Soulkind" and "The Soulkind Master."
"So many authors I've read, they just kind of go on and the stories dilute," Davala said. "They get too many characters and you lose track of them and ... sometimes the author dies, and they can't finish (the book). I'm not thinking about death yet but I just wanted to finish it and work on something new too."
The trilogy centers around the main character, Jace, an ex-thief who adventures in a land where magic returns after being locked away for 1,000 years. The people in the land are learning how to deal with the changes that magic brings. The second book focuses on Jace returning from his adventures. Book three wraps up the trilogy and reveals how characters are learning to deal with magic, the evil that awoke with it and how they can challenge it.
Prior to the fantasy series — the first book was published in 2013 — Davala had never written or published a novel before.
As a child, Davala's said he always wrote in notebooks, kept diaries and created mini graphic novels on index cards. In college, he remembers his friends taking creative writing classes and was intrigued.
But the initial idea for the series struck Davala while he was on a trip with his friend in Prague in the winter of 1995.
Davala and his friend had taken separate ways one day and Davala recalls sitting under a tree near Charles Bridge — a historic bridge crossing the Vltava river.
"Just taking it in, in all its frozen glory," he said. "There was a rock there and I didn't think anything except, 'Hey, this is a rock,' and I put it in my pocket and then when I came back to the states a month or two later I picked it up and I was there, just back at that tree."
When he decided it was time to write a book, he gave Jace the ability to pick up a rock and when he touches it, see the memory attached to the stone.
Davala's genre of choice was inspired by his love for Star Wars, Lord of the Rings series and "The Hobbit." His main character, Jace, also is the name of his 12-year-old son.
"His name came from the book, so the book came first," Davala said. "We had just really liked the name Jace. So my (older) daughter was born, couldn't name her Jace."
Davala's next book project will be a science fiction novel, which is currently mapped out with plot lines and character traits on sticky notes covering his wall.
"I love the creativity and imagination I can use. Star Wars started off the creativity and pretending process. So I guess I've never grown up in that respect. It's a nice break from reality sometimes," he said. "I'm kind of excited to say goodbye to the story but then again I really like the characters so I'm still holding on to the 'I could come back to it someday,' and revisit the lands and see what they're doing with their magic again."
Davala will sell his books at the Rose City Comic Con at the Portland Convention Center Sept. 14 and 15. He will also give a book talk at the West Linn Public Library Dec. 14 at noon or 2 p.m. The exact time has not been finalized. His series is available on Amazon, at the Bridgeport Barnes and Noble and it's available in paperback, Kindle or Audiobook format — though the third book won't be out on audio until October.
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