By Natasha Muhametzyanova, Contributing Writer
Have you ever dreamed of publishing a book? Two WLU graduates, Alexander King and Jeremy Gordon, know how it feels. Their book, Leif’s First Fall, was released on July 8, 2016.
“Leif’s First Fall is about a young Maple Tree named Leif who experiences fall for the first time,” said King. “He is so proud of his beautiful leaves that he starts panicking when they begin to drop. He cleverly begins styling his leaves and attempts to hide the fact that they’re falling out.”
“There’s a lot of humor in the story, and at the end he learns a lesson that everyone goes through changes. Well, mostly. The evergreens are pretty lucky,” said King.
The collaboration started when King decided to write a book for children and invited Gordon to illustrate it. “Book illustrations were something I had always considered doing one day,” said Gordon. His work was inspired by famous illustrators N. C. Wyeth and Arthur Rackham.
Gordon graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design and is a freelance illustrator. He is currently working on a book about different kinds of beer and brewing process.
Leif’s First Fall is the sixth published book for King and his third collaboration with Gordon.
King has a degree in communications with an emphasis in broadcasting. He currently works as Parks and Recreation Director for the Town of Middlebourne, W.Va and as Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist for Westbrook Health Services.
King is currently in a process of writing a horror novel and a post apocalyptic novella, which he is planning to release through the Author House — a self-publishing company.
Leif’s First Fall was inspired by a very personal experience. “It’s funny how I had the idea for the book. I used to be absorbed with my hair,” said King. “Looking at other men in the family, I started facing the reality that it probably wasn’t going to last forever.”
“One autumn day, the idea hit me: How would a young tree feel if his leaves started dropping and he didn’t know about fall? What if he tried hiding it like a man going bald? In that way it’s a bit of social commentary, but still lighthearted,” said King.
It took three months to illustrate the book after the first draft was ready. Moving on from that draft to the published piece took more than a year.
“I think we had both stepped away from the draft for a while because we were waiting for the right time. I became busy with my jobs and community work, but Jeremy, despite his own schedule, kept the project in my thoughts until we both decided it was time to go for it,” said King.
The process was challenging at times. While the artist tried to make sure the illustrations will look as intended in the print edition, the writer was trying to balance a fun story with life lessons.
“I wanted to keep the book enjoyable and understandable for children without erasing the teachable moments. I think children need to learn to believe in themselves for what they have, not what they lack. Learn to see the similarities in each other and be comfortable with the differences. Hopefully, this book delivers those lessons in a fun way,” said King.
Now those challenges are in the past as Gordon and King put all their motivation and inspiration toward the project. “The only way to really achieve success is by putting in countless hours to build your skills, and remembering that persistence is the key. I don’t believe that talent is something you’re born with; I believe that hard work pays off. You have to be willing to throw yourself into your work. After that, it’s a matter of networking and learning the business side of the matter,” said Gordon.
“There is no one path to accomplish your goals. Define your own path. If you’re creative, put that to use. Always remember that this world takes notice of the bold,” said King.
So what are you reading this week? Don’t know yet? Then it’s time to join Leif in the journey through his very first fall.