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Gladstone resident invites readers into the magical world of 'Wapits'

Jacob Porter had a dream — he wanted to get “Wapits,” his young adult novel, published and into his children’s hands as soon as possible. In the old days, this would mean getting an agent and a publisher, and then waiting for months to get a book into production, if it was accepted.

by: PHOTO BY MERCY SHAMMAH - Chazy, portrayed by Shay Porter, one of the authors sons, meets a Wapit for the first time in Meldrum Bar Park. But this is not the old days, and nowadays there are other methods of publishing, and Porter, a Gladstone resident, decided to take advantage of a new way to raise funds and create buzz for his book at the same time.

“Crowdfunding is a new way for people to make their creative dreams a reality. I went with Kickstarter because it is the most popular and trusted by people who are familiar with crowd funding,” he said.

“For me, Kickstarter has been a great experience and is really just the first step in the life I hope this book will have,” Porter said, adding t hat he ultimately raised $3,325 to help get “Wapits” published. 

An unexpected benefit from the Kickstarter process is that it created presales and fans before the book is even published.

“When I started the campaign, the Facebook page “Have you seen a Wapit?” had 355 fans, or likes, and today the page has over 780 likes. That huge jump is because of the campaign for the book on Kickstarter.”    

Birth of ‘Wapits’

The book is told from the perspective of Chazy, a 10-year-old boy who lives with his father and four siblings in Gladstone, near Meldrum Bar Park. On the first day of summer, he wakes up excited that this will be the first summer that he doesn’t have to go to day care.

Chazy plays outside instead of spending the day on the couch, and in the forest next to his apartment he goes on a treasure hunt for bottle caps. He doesn’t find any bottle caps, but instead finds a book that belongs to the Wapits.

The discovery of this book leads him to meeting a Wapit named Shay, and the world of the Wapits is opened up to him, as their friendship grows.

Porter is a single dad with five sons, so the story of the Wapits is more autobiographical than people might think.

“In the book, the Wapit is named Shay, which is my son’s name, and Chazy is a nickname I have called my son Shay for years. I wanted the Wapit and the character Chazy to have a special connection, so that they were in a way mirrors of each other, even though they were from different worlds,” he said.

“The story started as a bedtime story I told my kids at night to get them to fall asleep. I have always been a storyteller, and I wanted to make up something that would keep the world magical around them. One night as they were going to bed I just started to tell this story about a boy like them who found a book in Meldrum Bar,” Porter said.

“The funny thing is my three little boys still really believe that Wapits are real and live in the forest next to us. When we go over to Meldrum or they just come in from playing outside they will always say they saw a Wapit. If you asked my three younger boys ‘Have you seen a Wapit?’ they would all give you a very detailed answer about when they have seen Wapits.” 

The story snowballed when the boys began telling their friends about Wapits, and soon Porter realized he should do something with this idea. 

More books in works

“Wapits” is set to be released at the end of November, and Porter said that anyone who likes books similar to the “Harry Potter” series will like “Wapits,” with adults enjoying it on a different level than young people.

Readers of the first book are going to be left with more questions than answers, since it is just an introduction to the world of the Wapits and Chazy’s family, Porter said, adding that he has at least two other Wapit books in his head.

He is working on another book that is completely different and wants to finish that before going back to the world of the Wapits. He also has written screenplays, but found it hard to get them noticed.

“Writing a book and using Kickstarter to fund the publishing really has given me the freedom to see this story come to life,” Porter said.

“From the beginning, my hope was that when I’m old and gone my kids will have this book sitting on their shelves for their kids. It’s crazy to think that someday my great-great-grandchildren will hopefully read this book and ask ‘Grandma, are Wapits real?’ and my hope is she will answer back ‘yes.’ “ 

To learn more about “Wapits,” go to Facebook and type in “Have you seen a Wapit?” Or visit wapits.com.

Porter will read from “Wapits” at a book-release party on Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. at Happyrock Coffee, 465 Portland Ave. in Gladstone.



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