Mention Joe Evener and students at Big Walnut Intermediate School will tell you he’s a fifth-grade social studies and language arts teacher.
High school students will tell you he’s the head coach of the girls indoor and outdoor track and field teams.
But in the literary world, Joe Evener is a published fiction author, and he’s on a roll.
Evener’s first book, “The Heart of Seras: Journey to Seras,” published by Rogue Phoenix Press, was released in 2013. This past October, Rogue Phoenix Press published Evener’s second book, “The Heart of Seras: The Elders.”
“’The Heart of Seras’ is a six-part fantasy novel I came up with while attending The Ohio State University from 2005 to 2009,” Evener said. “My first book began the adventure of high school freshman Julie Ayers, a happy-go-lucky 15-year-old whose world is turned upside down by the revelation that she is the savior of a medieval dimension.”
Evener said his teenage protagonist must learn to balance life on Earth while she starts training for a battle against an evil she knows nothing about. Her mentor, Marcus Campbell, is a warrior from that medieval dimension disguised as her high school English teacher. It was Marcus’ job to find Julie and take her to Seras for training while, at the same time, keeping the fact that he has a deep, dark secret past of his own.
“Julie Ayers starts her journey as a high school freshman in the small town of Sunset, Ohio, based on my hometown of Sunbury,” Evener said. “Julie loves her family very much, and she’s loved by others just as equally. She has an infectious attitude that touches nearly everyone she comes into contact with; she’s very athletic, and enjoys cheerleading and playing basketball.”
Evener said that, through the six-book series, readers will watch Julie grow from a school girl into a confident young lady.
“I guess I’ve always been a dreamer,” Evener said. “I had the dream to change my surroundings, left cushy jobs at two major companies to go to college and follow my dream of becoming a teacher. While in college, I was inspired by my early love of reading the classics; and in between being a husband, father, grandfather, working part-time jobs, coaching and going to school full time, I chiseled out my own fantasy novel.”
Evener said he started writing his book series in 2005 during his first year of college at age 41. His initial inspiration came during a freshman writing class that had the first three books of Harry Potter as textbooks, and Classical Mythology 101.
“The combination of the two classes fueled the flames of a couple of stories I had locked away in my mind,” Evener said. “While I have always had a vivid imagination, I just had to put the idea I had to paper. I got inspired to the point that I could not avoid writing this story.”
Evener said he does not have any previous professional writing experience. His mother encouraged him to read books like “Robin Hood,” “Ivanhoe,” “Treasure Island,” “The Hobbit,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Robinson Crusoe,” “Gulliver’s Travels” and a little Shakespeare, all by the time he was 13.
“My best friend, Willie, my brother, David, and I were always creating some kind of story, making our own comic book superheroes and villains using our imaginations,” Evener said. “I wrote my first real story in fourth grade, a little story called ‘Super Joe’ in which I was a superhero and I was protecting the president of the United States. I got a pretty good response from my classmates and the teacher, so I wrote a sequel.”
In high school, Evener wrote a western because he loved the old Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns.
“I wish I still had a copy of that story,” Evener said. “I lost it sometime after I graduated from high school. After that, I thought a lot about writing. I even penned a movie script when I was in my 20s, but the company that was interested in it folded. I didn’t pursue it any further after that, and I usually just left the stories in my head.”
Evener, who said his literary heroes are J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Vladimir Nabokov and Joss Whedon, is currently working on book three of the series, “The Heart of Seras: Revelation.” The rest of the series are book four, “The Heart of Seras: The Dark Warrior,” followed by book five, “The Heart of Seras: Into the Abyss,” and concluding with book six, “The Heart of Seras: Journey’s End.”
“After the Seras series ends, I have several more projects in the works, including ‘Kingdom of the Rose,’ a story about a king torn between the love of his kingdom and the love of his life,” Evener said. “Then there’s ‘The Immortals,’ a fantasy novel about 12 men turned into immortals to fight demons; and another series, ‘Sam Singer: Legacy,’ about a distant relative of Professor Van Helsing destined to finish her great-great-great grandfather’s quest.”
Fans can contact Joe Evener on Twitter @joe_evener; on Facebook, search for Joe Evener, author; on Instagram, he’s jevener1982; and on Goodreads, search for Joe Evener or “Journey to Seras.” Evener’s blog is at techinanutshell.blogspot.com.
Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.