HINSDALE, N.H. -- James Stevens' fantasy novel is getting rave reviews on Amazon right now. So, it seems almost silly that the story once spent about eight years on a thumb drive ... in his lunch box.
Stevens, a Hinsdale resident, told the Reformer he wrote "Hatch: The Dragons of Laton" about 10 years ago to entertain his young daughters, Nicole and Ashley. After years of convincing, he recently decided to have it published and downloaded it on Amazon.com, through the site's independent publishing services. Stevens said his novel became a hit virtually overnight.
"I wrote the book for my daughters when they were kids. They like to read fantasy-type stories and it's hard to find stories like that that don't have a lot sex and stuff like that. So I said, ‘Fine, if I can't find one, I'll write one myself,'" he said. "I wrote this for my kids. I never thought about getting it published. I'm just stunned."
Stevens said "Hatch," which is about 400 pages in length, was selling an average of 150 e-books a day as of a couple of weeks ago and has sold in India, Australia and the United Kingdom. Physical copies of the novel can be purchased at Barnes & Noble bookstores (the nearest locations are in Hadley, Mass., and Manchester). Stevens said he was even ranked 70th on Amazon's list of favorite authors for action/adventure/fantasy books and "Hatch" was once No. 10 on the genre's best-sellers list.
Stevens, a respiratory therapist at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, told the Reformer his novel is about a young orphaned boy named Ammon, who gets a job watching over some dragon eggs. Stevens said one of the eggs hatches and he embarks on a terrific adventure.
One of his daughters, Nicole, now 25, said she marvels over the success of a story her father wrote for her and her sister.
"It just kind of occurred to him. I've always been a very avid reader and he was always telling me about stories he read that he thought I would like," she said. "It's really, really exciting to see it take off like it has."
Nicole said her favorite aspect of "Hatch," the beginning of a series, is definitely the characters.
"A lot of them are people you would love to meet in real life," she said. "You think, ‘If this person was a real person, I would love to just go have coffee with him.'"
Stevens, 49, told the Reformer it took him about three months to crank out the book and it was a year before it was polished and ready for print. The hard work has paid off, as "Hatch" is averaging a 5-star rating on Amazon.
One of the reviews reads, "For all the fantasy and dragon lovers out there, highly recommended. I love the story line. I can't wait for the next book." Another reads, "I absolutely loved this dragon tale. It is now 3 a.m. and I have to get up at 7:30, but there was no putting this book down."
Stevens said he is still amazed by the reception his novel has received and he can't believe the praise he has gotten.
"The best word I have been able to come up with is 'dumbfounded.' I'm very thankful to God," he said. "I have no idea how this is happening, but I'm very grateful. It's a wonderful thing."
He said he is currently working on the second novel of the series.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.