The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 2, 2012

Writer's quest: High school freshman publishes fantasy novel

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer

PITTSBURG, Kan. — It’s probable that Mark Weaver is the only freshman at Pittsburg High School to see his name listed as the author on the cover of a book sold on Amazon. It’s possible he’s also the only freshman in Crawford County to do so.

But Weaver is very matter-of-fact about that accomplishment.

“I really like reading. I went through ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Aragon,’ ‘Percy Jackson,’” he said. “Then I just decided to write my own.”

In fourth grade at George Nettels Elementary, Weaver had written a short story and “really got into it,” he said. As his writing improved at Pittsburg Community Middle School, he decided to expand his story to a fictional fantasy. He began in seventh grade and worked on it during his free time, rewriting it a couple of times until it aligned with the story that was in his mind.

“I knew there was supposed to be a hero and a villain, and I knew I wanted four groups -- fire, darkness, ice and lightness. That’s sort of like the four elements, but I changed them a little.”

The hero of the story is Morxe Anxol, a 13-year-old who is about to discover the true extent of the tyranny of Earth’s king, a wicked being named Zarthox.

“I put some of myself into him,” Weaver said.

The young author didn’t pin down a time period for the tale, "Hearts of Fire, Souls of Ice," choosing instead a blending of time.

“Morxe’s speech is modern, but it takes place in the past,” he said. “In some parts, though, there are futuristic ideas.”

Blown away by a devastating storm, Morxe soon learns that it is his destiny to defeat Zarthox and free the world from the evil king’s reign. But in order to do that, he must first learn the arts of swordplay, archery and magic, as well as find the mystical Elemental Dursks and Dalger swords.

“The hero has to find magical objects to strengthen himself and defeat the villain,” Weaver said. Along the way, Morxe finds friends and foes, dragons and demons and lands heard of only in legend.

“I made up a new Earth, basically,” Weaver said. “It’s flat, and water surrounds it and runs off like a waterfall to realms below.”

With time running out before Zarthox’s rule becomes absolute and hope becomes nothing more than a dream, Morxe must battle his way across hazardous terrain teeming with monsters and enemies in his quest to triumph over Zarthox once and for all.

Why not write?

Weaver finished the 336-page story at the end of last summer after putting in about a year and a half of writing time.

“I decided, why not become an author?” he said. His dad, also named Mark Weaver, helped by tracking down a book printer and an artist to draw the cover.

“I’m not a reader, but I wanted to be involved,” said the elder Weaver.

He first turned to the printing services department at Pittsburg State for five copies in order to hand them out and get feedback. He then employed the services of Keith Dolney, an artist from Canada, for the cover, and selected The Book Patch, a print-on-demand service, for the book.

It was printed Feb. 5. The Weavers ordered 150 copies to begin with; within the last few weeks the supply has dwindled to 10 or 20. The book can be purchased locally at Ron’s Supermarket ($12.99), or at Amazon in print form ($14) or e-book ($2.99). It also is available for checkout at the PHS library.

But the young author isn’t done.

“I am planning to write it as a trilogy called ‘The Orethium Blades,’” Weaver said. “I am halfway done with my second one already.”

Called “Minds of Shadow, Spirits of Light,” the second book continues the hero’s story through new quests to different places.

“I would like to be a writer someday,” Weaver said of career possibilities. “Although I guess I already am one.”