The Stone Tablet

Author John Gilstrap Comes to Stone for a Visit!

Nathan%E2%80%99s+Run%2C+is+the+book+that+made+it+big+for+John+Gilstrap.
Nathan’s Run, is the book that made it big for John Gilstrap.

Nathan’s Run, is the book that made it big for John Gilstrap.

Nathan’s Run, is the book that made it big for John Gilstrap.

Tiya M., Staff Writer

Not everyone gets the chance to have a best-selling author visit their school to guest teach a creative writing class but here at Stone, author John Gilstrap, came to visit. Author of the best-selling, Jonathan Grave series and with a few novels, he must be pretty satisfied, right? He is now, but it wasn’t always like this.

According to his website, John Gilstrap was always a shy writer. He worked with his high school newspaper, but quit over an article about the First Amendment, which seemed oddly important at the time. He later graduated from College of William and Mary with a degree in history, but unfortunately was unable to find a job and thus ended up serving the construction industry; he absolutely despised this job. It was also around this time that he joined the Burke Volunteer Fire Department in Fairfax County; this soon became an important part of his life. Later, he went back to college and earned a master’s degree in science for safety engineering. He got a career in engineering a short while after. Throughout all this, Gilstrap continued to write, and in 1996, his fourth novel, Nathan’s Run, came out and it sold big. This converted him to a full-time writer, but he didn’t enjoy it much and converted back to his day job of an engineer. After ten and a half years, Gilstrap converted back to full-time writing and began to write the Jonathan Grave series.

Many authors have one select book that gives them their popularity. For Gilstrap, it was the book, Nathan’s Run. As said by a review written by Juli Monroe, “Gilstrap does an excellent job at getting into the head of a 12-year old boy,” There is good character development and plot is well-thought out. Unfortunately, there is a mild sense of graphic/design violence along with some pretty strong language. Funny thing is, that it was actually among America’s top 100 banned books at one point in time. Now, some editions have been revised to remove most of the language, but there are still a few surprises among the pages. Overall, this book is good, being mindful of the slight violence and the strong language.

Being an author is definitely harder than you think. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but instead, a lot of staring at a computer and reading. If you want to be an author, don’t expect to write a two-hundred page book in one night and be done. It takes months of editing and revising. Many authors start with writing blogs, or reviews, to build their audience and get some practice. Once you are ready to begin writing, it would be helpful to create a schedule (and stick to it), plan, outline the main plot, and research. Researching is especially important, even if you are writing a fictional book. Then, once you’ve written your book, try to score a publishing deal, or try to self-publish. There are dozens of sites and blogs that are purely dedicated to the craft of writing, like Jerry Jenkins’ Complete Guide to Become an Author, so check those out as well!

Publishing a book is no easier than writing it. There are two types of publishing, self and traditional. Self-publishing is where you’d put yourself out there, and sell to anyone who is willing to buy. Traditional is the old-school way, where a publishing company offers you a contract; they’d basically buy all rights to reproduce your book. Self-publishing is a tad bit more complicated and would require more work for you’d to do. When publishing the traditional way, the way for the company to see the writing, it would depend on what category you’re writing for. Certain criteria must be met in order for the company to even look at your works. Writing a book is tough, but publishing a book is tougher and you would need to decide what is right for you.

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