Local author hopes to inspire creativity with new reads
Less than a month apart, West Linn High School teacher and author Steve Davala has published not one but two new books.
His first children's book, "Books are for Reading, Not Eating," was released May 18, while his new sci-fi novel, "Skywatch," will be available June 10.
Though he's taught science and math at Rosemont Ridge Middle School and WLHS for over 20 years, Davala is no stranger to writing.
For years, he contributed science articles and short stories to magazines, but eventually began his first novel in 2000. That novel, "The Soulkind Awakening," published in 2013 and evolved into an epic fantasy series. The final book of the trilogy came out in 2019.
After spending so much time in the fantasy realm, Davala said he was ready to branch out. That's partially what motivated him to write "Books are for Reading, Not Eating."
"The best books I remember reading to my kids were quick and witty and had good patterns; they were memorable and had bizarre pictures," Davala said. That's what he had in mind for this book.
The story centers on Liz McKeeting, a young girl with a strange ability: Whenever she eats a book, she is transported into the world of the book.
Davala said the book was not based on his own kids or any kids he knows actually eating books.
"It's just from my crazy mind," he said.
The author said he likes to encourage people to use their imaginations. Children naturally have creative imaginations, he explained, but they tend to lose it as they grow into adults focused on jobs and responsibilities.
Davala hopes "Books are for Reading, Not Eating" helps kids see the world a little differently.
Davala wrote the book in only one weekend, but his wife, Laurie Davala, helped with the difficult part: editing the story and creating limerick-like rhythm.
Laurie Davala is also a teacher, working in special education in the Tigard-Tualatin School District. The couple live in Tigard with their family.
Davala worked on "Skywatch" for about two years. The sci-fi novel depicts a futuristic life on the planet of Magla, where technology is embedded in everyone. Davala said the book is partly inspired by seeing kids walking the hallways at WLHS with their eyes glued to their phones.
The book's protagonist, Daj, is partially based on kids who seek Internet fame, Davala said.
Daj earns his living live-streaming stunts for a behemoth tech company. Despite the money, fame and followers, Daj knows there's something missing in his life.
Davala said much of his inspiration comes from the stories he loved as a kid and still appreciates today. For instance, he loved Star Wars and dreamed of creating a story of his own in that universe.
He was also a fan of the Lord of the Rings series and "choose your own adventure" fantasy books. While Davala's inspiration for his books comes partially from these cultural staples, he said he's worked hard to make his fantasy and sci-fi worlds original.
"It's really tough to be original in a not-quite-original world," he said. "There are so many recycled stories."
Davala said he took care to make sure the magic and setting of the Soulkind series didn't resemble other popular series like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.
Both of Davala's new publications will be available online to purchase as hard copies or as e-books. Readers can also find them at the West Linn Public Library.
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