Full-Time Student, Part-Time Author

Ian Bristow Self-published student author, Ian Bristow, released "Enlightened" on Feb. 1. Bristow wrote the book, second in his urban fantasy trilogy, while attending Clark full-time. (Photo credit: Ryan Robbins / the Independent)

Thirty-one-year-old Ian Bristow has had a busy past two years as a Clark student. He’s been juggling homework and exams, but on top of that, he managed to write a trilogy.

Thanks to his friends and instructors, Bristow self-published “Discovery” in April 2015 and “Enlightened” on Feb. 1, the first two books in the Conner’s Odyssey trilogy. The series follows a bratty teen boy who discovers a portal to another world and goes on a wild adventure, ultimately discovering the meaning of life outside of material things.

“I tried to teach the character lessons in hope that teens will learn them with [the character],” Bristow said.

Bristow plans to publish the third Conner’s Odyssey book, “Conviction,” this June.

Bristow began writing when he asked his sister to author a book that he could illustrate. When she didn’t get around to do so, it inspired him to write and illustrate for himself.

Carrie Steltz, Bristow’s mentor and English instructor, described Bristow as a role model for beginner authors because of his creativity.

“He takes his work seriously, yet he enjoys it,” Steltz said. “He’s a good person to be around, as a student and a peer, because of his maturity, abilities and positive motivational attitude.”

Bristow was walking in a forest with his best friend, Nick Bacon, when he came up with the plot for the story. Originally he started writing a children’s picture book, but as he developed the plot, violence and adult situations created his first young adult novel.

After a year of editing and rewriting six times, Bristow spent months sending his “polished” query letter to hundreds of agents. He didn’t have any luck with responses, so he self-published his first book through Amazon and CreateSpace, a company that publishes paperbacks and ebooks.

Now Bristow’s book is being distributed to elementary school libraries.

Even though self-publishing isn’t bringing profit, Bristow said it’s satisfying to know that his audience is enjoying his book.

“I was hearing back from parents [who said] ‘My kid loves your book!’ It’s like the best feeling in the world.”

Bristow is now halfway into writing a new, unrelated adult urban fantasy and mystery novel called “Hunting Darkness,” expecting to release it in winter.

He said he was scared at first to leave the Conner’s Odyssey characters.

“It was almost like cheating on someone, it was really weird!”

Depending on the response to “Hunting Darkness,” Bristow will decide if he will continue with young adult fantasy or try pure mystery writing.

Bacon said he will support Bristow in any way.

“It was very natural for him to step up to that genre, and his fans are going to be able to grow with his books,” Bacon said. “Ian has been an artist his entire life and it’s wrong to restrict an artist. I think he should do whatever the hell he wants to do. If he wants to write a kids book, cool, and even if he wanted to write a sexy, trashy romance novel, he should. People should foster their imaginations no matter what.”

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