Student author publishes fantasy novel for children

Nathan Warner used a system known as print-on-demand publishing and paid $1,000 to have his first book published.

Sitting in his physics lecture, University student Nathan Warner envisioned a black knight riding two birds, flying in a dark sky. After sketching the scene, he set the drawing aside and continued taking notes.

“I can’t wait until the summer when I can start writing again,” he said.

Warner, an engineering first-year student, began writing “The Knight Before Christmas” about two years ago as a home-schooled high school student. The fictional novel has sold approximately 12 copies since being published last February.

“The Knight Before Christmas” is a Christmas fantasy, he said, targeted at children 8 to 15 years old.

The book follows two young girls who are kidnapped by evil knights and taken to Glamorgan, a world where Santa Claus and evil villains reside. The knights plot to end Christmas in the girls’ world and to destroy Santa in Glamorgan. After discovering this, the girls launch an adventure to save Christmas.

“I thought I could get it published by December of 2002,” Warner said. “The path was a lot harder than I thought.”

He said he used a system known as print-on-demand publishing, where authors pay upfront to have their work published.

Warner’s father Dwight Warner said he and his wife helped their son pay $1,000 to the iUniverse publishing company.

Most of Nathan Warner’s contact with iUniverse was through e-mail, he said, and he never sent a hard copy of his manuscript to the company.

Katherine Brandenburg, author marketing manager for iUniverse, said print-on-demand publishing is beneficial for writers with all kinds of goals, including new authors.

“The author controls the whole process,” Brandenburg said.

She said marketing is the author’s responsibility, but iUniverse distributes books to bookstores such as Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com. Through these venues, customers can order the books, which are printed according to demand, Brandenburg said.

Nathan Warner said he originally planned to write a series of novels over the course of 10 years.

“I wanted to make a language for the story so there would be a deeper philosophy than with a one-year project,” he said.

His parents suggested he write something less complicated first, he said.

“I had to hold myself back to reach the market,” he said. “I brought my vocabulary level down from what I would use.”

Nathan Warner’s parents taught him and his younger brother, Ellis Warner, at home. That way, Nathan Warner was given a broad education, including many opportunities to write, Dwight Warner said.

Nathan Warner said that when he was 12 years old, J.R.R. Tolkien’s books inspired him to write.

Dwight Warner took some of his son’s short stories to work with him, and everyone thought they were good, he said.

He said his son’s creativity has never stopped.

“It’s just all natural for him,” he said.

Although Nathan Warner is studying to become an engineer, he said he dreams of becoming a writer.

“My mentality was that I didn’t need to go to college to learn to write,” he said, “but I wanted a backup in case writing didn’t work.”

“We’re not convinced he can make a full-time living writing,” Dwight Warner said. “However, if his writing takes off, we’ll encourage him with that.”

Nathan Warner began a sequel to his book in February.

He said learning about history, mythology and science inspires him to write.

“The classes I’m taking and the things I’m learning will influence the sequel,” he said.