Monday, June 6, 2011

Guest Author: Daniel Wright

Write a Book?
Becoming an author was the last thought on my mind as I graduated college. I had just started a small plastics business, recently been married, and witnessed the birth of my first niece. At the age of 23, the roadmap for my life seemed to be pointed towards the typical American dream of finding a reliable job, settling down in a nice suburban home, and raising a family. I had no idea that my life was going to change in a very drastic way.
Remembering the Stories
I could not ignore the requests. My Dad was a master story teller. Growing up, Papa Wright would often accompany me to father/son camp. Right around the time that the lights were suppose to go out, all the campers in our cabin would gather around his bunk and wait for the next installment of his adventure stories; many of which were loosely based on his own experiences backpacking in the Alaskan wilderness. It was quite an anomaly to have 15 young boy campers stay silent for hours on end, breathlessly waiting for my father to continue his story from the night before.
The fascination with my father’s storytelling ability continued as he became a teacher. I cannot even begin to count the number of former students and parents that would come up to me and ask if “Mr. Wright” was still telling his “wild adventure” stories. My friends and I would often sit around and recount our favorite stories he had told us. One day, while enjoying lunch with a friend, the conversation again turned to my Dad’s stories. “You know, I think they would make a great plot for a book,” my friend remarked. A light bulb went off in my head. My father did not have the patience or writing ability to create a book, but I did.
I called my Dad that night. Over dinner at a local restaurant, I pitched the idea to my father. We talked wildly into the night, carefully laying the foundation for what would become The Wild Adventures of Eli Johnson and Curly Bill, the first book in our series. We were convinced that these stories had enough action and adventure to lure even the most resistant kid away from video games, and into a lifelong love of reading. The next day I went right to work on writing the book.
Tragedy Strikes
A few months into brainstorming ideas for the book, I received a knock on my door at three o’clock in the morning. There stood my father standing in the doorway, sobbing uncontrollably. Through painful words he told me that my sister had been killed in a car accident. It’s hard to describe the pure unadulterated pain that shot through my body as my mind tried to wrap around the concept of what was being told to me.
As the weeks dragged on, the book became an afterthought. I felt like a walking zombie. The creativity that had existed between my father and I was gone. The will to act like a functioning member of society had ceased, replaced by a longing for things to be as they once were.
A New Day Arises
Like the sun rising after a rainy night, hope began to filter through the cracks of our misery. Six months after the tragedy of my sister’s death, I began to sit down and write again. It must have been God’s great mercy, for the words began to flow. I finished the entire manuscript in two months. I rushed over to my parent’s house and showed my Dad the final version of the story. As he read, a smile began to appear on his face; the first smile I had seen from him in a long time!

Flash Forward
As I reflect back on the last two years, I can clearly see that The Wild Adventures of Eli Johnson and Curly Bill was the catalyst that brought our family back from the brink of despair. It gave my family something to be proud of again.  Within the first four months of the books release, I visited dozens of elementary schools in support of the book. I passionately spoke to thousands of students on the joys of reading, and the need to get up off the couch and explore the wonderful outdoors. The storytelling baton has been passed from my father to me, as I got the opportunity to watch his stories captivate a larger audience than ever before.
 The proudest moment of my life came recently, as I preformed a speaking engagement for students and parents at the Elementary School where my father teaches. The school graciously allowed my dad to deliver the introduction before I spoke. There were few dry eyes in the building as my Dad announced how proud he was to call me his son. Many of those in the audience had stood with us during our time of need. As father and son walked off the stage, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders, a feeling of peace came over both of us. Though neither one of us could have created the book by ourselves, together we were able to accomplish our goal.
The Wild Adventures of Eli Johnson and Curly Bill, is an action/adventure story written for Junior level readers between the ages of 7-12. Set in the 1800’s, the book follows Eli and Curly Bill as they try to survive wild animals, bandits, and hostile Native American’s in their quest to find gold. These days Dan remains busy touring local schools promoting the joy of reading and inspiring children to develop a love for Michigan’s great outdoors. You can obtain a copy of the book by visiting or Barnes& To learn more about Dan, or see pictures of his presentations, visit


Anonymous said...

My fifth grader and her entire class enjoyed this story and the presentation they had with the other! Can't wait for the next one!
R. Schepper - Minnestoa

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