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Rosemont teacher writes, inspires

Steve Davala is working on the second volume of his Soulkind trilogy


Even when Steve Davala is speaking as the successful novelist he is, his role as a teacher shines at the surface. The author of a young-adult fantasy novel, Davala also teaches math and science at Rosemont Ridge Middle School.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Teacher and author Steve Davala reads from his first novel, The Soulkind Awakening, at Rosemont Ridge Middle School Nov. 6.The book, "The Soulkind Awakening," is the first in a planned trilogy telling the story of a young boy who can recall memories stored in stones. The story germinated from a real-life incident from Davala’s past. In 1996, he was backpacking through Europe and spending a particularly cold day in the city of Prague.

"The coldness was biting into me,” he said. “It was a different world.”

On that chilly day, Davala picked up an interesting stone, slipped it into a pocket and soon forgot about it. When he found it again, much later, the memory of that cold day flooded him.

“There I was, right back at the castle. It sparked that memory in me,” he said.

On a more recent afternoon, Davala was in the library at Rosemont Ridge, where a group containing parents and students — both former and current — had assembled to hear him read selections from the book.

Davala was aware — and appreciative — of the middle school audience's support, calling students his built-in fan base.

“I’d really like the kids to get the writing bug,” he said. “That’s why I’m here. Hopefully we’ll get some writers out of it.”

In the audience Nov. 6 was Hannah Beth Gilbert, a 2012 West Linn High School graduate who attends University of Oregon as a sophomore. Gilbert happened to be in town the day of the reading and came to support her former teacher.

“This is something he’s been quietly passionate about for a long time,” Gilbert said. “When people ask me, ‘Who is someone in your life who has had a lasting impact?’ I would say, ‘Steve Davala.’ He pushed me to embrace what made me different from normal people.”

After reading, Davala answered students’ questions about the book and the process of writing it. He is now about halfway through the sequel, to be called “The Shadow of the Soulkind.” As he shapes that second novel, he is more confident in his ability to publish it. He tried the traditional publishing route with the first book, earning a series of rejection letters in return for his efforts. Eventually, he self-published through Amazon.com, uploading his story, creating the cover, selecting the volume’s size and price.

Davala is offering to share his experience with young writers, launching a Young Writers Club at Rosemont Ridge. Over the course of six weeks, the club will meet before school to respond to writing prompts. Its first meeting was Tuesday. Davala hopes to collect students' work, help them refine it and publish an anthology.

Eighth-grader Gabrielle Gunderson was interested in joining the club, even though she doesn’t consider herself a writer.

“Not yet, but now I really want to,” she said. “I’ve been trying to write stories since first grade.” Davala’s success, she said, “shows me that it is possible.”

Another eighth-grader, Ronan Maples, was also interested in the club.

“Mr. Davala was one of my favorite teachers,” Ronan said. “It’s kind of cool to see that one of our teachers has written a full-on book. I feel like writing a whole book is an accomplishment.”

“The Soulkind Awakening” is available through Amazon.com. Learn more at Davala’s website, thesoulkindawakening.blogspot.com.



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