OAKHURST – Branches Books and Gifts will host author Andrew J. Stillman on Wednesday, Aug. 6, from 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Stillman is a 2007 graduate of Yosemite High School who will be signing his novel, Immortality Awaits: The Objects of Inwit, Book One.
Immortality Awaits is the first in a multi-book fantasy saga “examining the modifications of the human self due to the backfired end of greed and power,” say booksellers. “The perspectives weave between the antagonist and the protagonist to examine the similarities and differences between good and evil.”
The plot goes like this: Donovan Carter is being plagued by dreams sent to him by mysterious sorceress Isabelle Hopwood. Donovan discovers he must uncover the legendary Objects of Inwit, powers promising both invincibility and immortality.
Meanwhile, in the parallel world of Ianaro, vengeful Lord Matobian attempts to gain ultimate domination by finding the Objects himself.
“Their bond begins to quake at the control of the powers, but the promise of an oncoming war still stains the horizon. The battle lines have been drawn. The armies have taken up their weapons. The Powers have chosen their victors. Immortality awaits those without mercy.”
The book’s tag-line reads, “Never forget who the enemy is.”
Stillman explained some of the origins of his work, dating back to early school days when imagination was nearly essential to existence. He was not a quiet kid.
“I was actually really hyper, really in everybody’s face, and I think for the most part I lacked a sense of self. I wasn’t always the most tactful about my desire for attention,” the author remembers of his growing years. “That was mostly my own internal damnation, but that was what influenced me a lot. I needed to understand who I was, my role in society, and accept the fact that I’m not a fleeting memory when people meet me, and the things I say and do actually have an affect on the people around me.”
Reflecting on that past helped Stillman channel his energy into writing his debut novel.
“That’s mostly where the ‘Never forget who the enemy is’ aspect of my book came from,” he explains candidly. “We are all our own worst enemies, and I certainly know I’ve been the cause of my own pain far more than anyone I’ve ever encountered.”
Stillman first began writing as a young kid, and now admits, “I wanted to be the first eight-year-old with a published novel.”
The product of local schools, the author said his teachers here proved to be a great influence. “I think I’m very fortunate to have had the educational experiences I did,” he says, with specific mention of second grade teacher at Oakhurst Elementary School, Mrs. Cher Tompkins, who retired in 2011.
“Mrs. Tompkins was the woman who taught me how to write a paragraph, and I remember that grade probably more than any from elementary school,” Stillman recounted, saying he gained some element of wisdom from each of his instructors, and most of it was positive.
“Mrs. Kellie Solomon and Mrs. Ellen Peterson from Yosemite High School taught me a lot, and to this day I still talk about their classes.”
The element of nature has played a part in Stillman’s personal story, as well. “My parents live closer to Fish Camp, so whenever I would come home, I would go out into our backyard and that was where I would write my stories. That was where I existed. That was where I wasn’t weird, or annoying, or hyperactive. We had about half an acre of just forest in our backyard, and that was my favorite place to be. Just me and the trees.”
Besides the trees, Stillman had his other constant companion: the aforementioned imagination.
“Against the advice of many, I never turned off my imagination. So many times, that was the only thing that kept me going. This world can be hard to live in. I was always devouring books, because fictional words were always so much cooler.”
His earliest reading obsessions were Animorphs, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings. Stillman read them in that order, and the challenges faced and overcome in literature hooked him from the start.
“I couldn’t get enough of those. The idea that normal, everyday people like myself were put on these heroic journeys was always so enticing to me.”
The idea for his first novel, Immortality Awaits, has been in Stillman’s mind, slowly taking shape, for as long as he can remember.
“Any time I tried to get rid of it, eviscerate it from my mind, and give up, the characters came back stronger in my dreams, in my every day life, and I came to a point where I could choose to write it to get it out of my head, or suffer. A lot of insanity came with this book, but without any of my trials and life tribulations, it wouldn’t be what it is now.”
Stillman looks forward to the signing at Branches Books & Gifts on Wednesday, Aug. 6, from 5:30 – 7 p.m.
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