Fantasy writer garners reluctant readers

Have you ever imagined a world where your artistic creations could come to life? Sophomore Doug Parks has, and he wrote and independently published a book about it.

This fantasy novel, titled Painted Red, takes place in a world whose residents have a power known as “forming,” in which they can draw basic pictures and bring them to life.

The plot follows the adventures of a teenager named Addison, whose prowess in “forming” alienates him from his peers and ultimately gets him accused of murdering his best friend. It combines magic with the struggles of any teenager searching for their place in the world, making it perfect for a young adult audience.

Painted Red was inspired by a game Parks would play with his friends when he was younger, in which they would draw pictures back and forth, creating battles on pieces of paper.

These events “inspired the idea of drawing something and being able to bring it to life,” according to Parks, which became the premise for this book.

Parks’ interest in writing came not only from his enjoyment of art but also from his love of reading.

“I just read a lot as a kid,” he said. “I think if you read a lot it creates a natural desire to create your own stories.”

Parks’ inspiration also came from his role model, his father, who consistently encouraged him to continue writing and finish his book.

“It might be a common answer, but it’s especially true with him,” Parks said, regarding who has shown him support through his journey.

In the future, Parks, a communication major and geology minor, hopes to write scientific nonfiction.

“I love geology. I love all of science actually,” Parks said. He wants to use his combined love of science and writing to write books about complex scientific topics made digestible for anyone.

He is definitely not picky about his future career, however, saying that just being an author in general would be an incredible experience. But he’s in the field for intrinsic rewards, not money, saying, “I’m just along for the ride.”

The biggest joy Painted Red has brought Parks so far is the enthusiasm it brings to teenagers reluctant to read.

“The coolest thing that happened with this book is that several parents came up to me saying that their kids who hate reading were staying up late and waking up early to read it,” he said.

One parent even approached him to say their son who generally does not read went as far as to create the book’s world on Minecraft. So far the book has received only positive reviews on Amazon, with 11 five-star and three four-star reviews.

While he appreciates support from his friends and families, he said the times when strangers read and enjoy his book mean the most to him.

Parks’ book placed 14th in the Metaphysical and Visionary category on Amazon and made the list for the Top 50 Most Popular Free Books worldwide.

While Parks continues to advertise through Facebook and hopes to expand his reading base by having popular book blogs review Painted Red, he truly enjoys and appreciates every moment of the experience.

“I’m very happy with the success it’s had so far,” he said.