Making their mark on the literary world

Left%3A+The+Deal+by+Cero+Mears.+Middle%3A+The+Creepy+Adventures+of+Gilly+and+Od+by+Erin+Duggins.+Right%3A+Firebug+by+Devon+Buckley+

Left: The Deal by Cero Mears. Middle: The Creepy Adventures of Gilly and Od by Erin Duggins. Right: Firebug by Devon Buckley

Sophia Tattersall, Student Writer

GNA CAMPUS- Literature can provide a much-needed escape from the mundane realities of everyday life. It can take us on a journey without ever leaving the comfort of our home. Literature is entertainment; literature is education. It reflects human nature and allows us to understand how people think and feel. It creates empathy, understanding, and perspective. 

Some writers are blessed with a gift – an ability to take readers to another time and place with their words. When they take pen to paper, their hand is guided by pure inspiration that stems from somewhere within.

Recently, a few GNA alumni, and a current student, have shared their gift of writing with the world. Devon Buckley ’07, Erin Duggins ’13, and Cero Mears ’21, all recently became published authors.

The GNA Insider had both the honor and pleasure of interviewing each author about their books.

Our first interview was with author Devon Buckley who recently published Firebug.

“It was almost a 10-year project to bring the story to its entirety and 10 years for me to find the focus to complete it.”

In his own words, Devon explained the essence of Firebug. “The plot of the story is built out of the landscape of a struggling, mid-western town that is experiencing the rippling effects of a strain from a generational face-lift. It is a change that threatens their preserved traditions and community-based synergism that has “bubbled” their way of life. As the shift in residential organization occurs, the town declines in economic value. As the chapters unfold, they reveal how each resident plays an unconscious role in the town’s deterioration through greed. As the town weathers, it finds itself threatened by an unidentifiable firebug that’s mysterious and intentions require the two generations to work together to stop the sequential blazes, But can they? Underneath the carnal exterior of the firebug smolders its own fire of greed, selfishness and entitlement.”

After graduating from high school, Buckley went on to attend LCCC for an associate’s degree in Nursing. He later obtained his master’s and is currently a Nurse Manager of a clinic at the Wilkes-barre VA Medical Center. However, Devon’s passion for writing started at the end of his high school career while he was transferring over to the college setting.

Ironically, this published author never considered himself a bookworm or avid reader. The writing only started as his creative mind pushed him to always jot down his ideas on paper. He tells explained, “Often a word or phrase someone would say would flourish branches of ideas to which I would jot down on scrap paper during class.” The hard covered paper stories that inhabit libraries and schools could never catch Devon’s attention. But then there were the decorative and explosively popular movies.

Cover art for Firebug by Devon Buckley

The glamourizing fantasies of Hollywood greatly influenced Devon’s taste in media. He admires horror films and old-fashioned ghost stories. He also embraces the classic traditions and rejects the modern green-screen effects that newer movies utilize. When he was younger, he had plans to become a film director. Writing branched off from his affinity for film and media.

With dreams of Hollywood, Devon shot high, landing at a more reachable choice as an author. He was able to compromise, satisfying his aspiration of storytelling by adapting his dreams onto a different median, paper. Writing was still an “on and off” hobby for Devon, never giving it his full attention until he wanted to write Firebug.

While cultivating ideas for his writing, he looked to everyday situations and his unique sense of imagination. He explained, “I find it is much more relatable than the thee’s and thou’s of Shakespeare.”

In his story, Devon made sure to only portray what he wanted the readers to know and left the rest for the imagination of the audience. He wanted the story to be interpreted and the suspense of the horror to be suggested or in contrast, blatantly visible. As for figurative language, he wrote about the town as if it were a person. He wanted to personify the town so his audience could better relate to its struggles and the conflict that occurs in it. To heighten readers’ personal fears, He used the threat of the firebug character to represent apparitions and the spirituality of death. The Firebug story started as a surplus pile of ideas and chapters.

The original storyline had three different endings. Once he pieced together the concepts and included his hand made artwork, designing both the cover and illustrations for the book, he was on his way to completing it. But, there was one thing left before he could deem it perfect. He allowed a friend to proofread the book, correcting the paragraph styles and grammar to make the framework of the story both look and read better. He said, “I have a friend who is a Doctorate of Higher Education who willingly agreed to finger through the chapters for evaluation of continuation of the story and an overall impression.”

“From there it was sent out to a publisher for what I thought would end with a kind letter of rejection and ended up with both the paperback and softcover arriving at my house in the style being purchased now.”

For Buckley, writing is still a hobby and he does not intend to pursue it any further. He told us, “It was a labor of love that I enjoyed but I would rather stop while I enjoy it than continue to do so and have it become a burden. It was one of the few items on my bucket list that I can now check off.”

 

The second author The GNA Insider interviewed was Erin Duggins.

In her own words, Erin gives us a brief summary of her book, The Creepy Adventures of Gilly and Od. “The story begins with Od, a young ghost, who grows anxious when he’s told he’s not scary enough for Halloween. With the help of his best friend and neighbor, a little witch named Gilly, they try every spell in the book to prove he can become the scariest ghoul in town. However, the kids quickly learn being scary isn’t for everyone. Od realizes he has the power to choose how he wants to celebrate his own spooky holiday. The Creepy Adventures of Gilly and Od is a charming short story about making your own decisions, self-discovery, and friendship, all expressed through the whimsical lens of Halloween.” 

Cover art for Erin Duggins’ The Creepy Adventures of Gilly and Od.

Luckily for Erin, she was more than qualified to write such a book. After graduating from high school in 2013, she pursued higher education at LCCC and received her associate’s degree in Computer Graphics. Not long after, she went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in film and animation at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Some highlights of her life post-graduation were: moving to New Jersey with her partner, obtaining a career with Outlook Enterprise/OVFX Studios, and representing her studio at the Kidscreen 2020 International Children’s Media Summit. She served as a guest speaker at several elementary schools to educate on the career of cartoon animation and even managed the production of a pilot episode for a potential new animated series from Outlook. Since quarantine began, she continued to work with Outlook and made new memories at home, learning how to cook, sew clothes, and, most notably, writing children’s books.

With her background in film and animation, Erin was able to form the foundation of a story. Most of her experience in storytelling had been in animation, so this artist had to adapt her skills to a different median. She was relatively familiar with children’s media and picked up skills from her experiences with other talented artists in college and in her career. She wrote scripts and plot synopsis, tapping into her imagination and creative mind. Once she added rhythm and poetry, similar to Dr. Seuss, she was well onto her way in the creation of her children’s book. Her skill set couldn’t have been better suited for this task.

Erin’s favorite part of creating her book was experimenting with characters and visual expressions. She is an illustrator and animator at her core, and it greatly helped her while designing the characters’ looks and personalities. 

Erin Duggins, the author and illustrator of The Creepy Adventures of Gilly and Od.

Like many other artists, her passion for the arts started at a young age when she would create small comics and doodles in her notebooks. For Erin, inspiration was drawn from Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series, being credited as her favorite stories to read. She found inspiration in Dav’s signature “flip-o-rama” books, using elements of their illustrations to curate her own artistic style. For her passion for everything Halloween, she credits Natasha Wings’ “The Nightmare before Halloween” and the classic horror elements such as ghouls, monsters, and trick-or-treating. All of those nostalgic memories and books greatly inspired the creation of Gilly & Od. She explained, “The Creepy Adventures of Gilly and Od is the first of many new Halloween adventures to come!”

Erin wrote the book to offer an alternative celebration for Halloween, the most contact centered holiday, during the pandemic. She envisioned families celebrating the holiday with festivities and with the reading of lovely books while staying indoors.

After reconnecting with a college friend, Erin started to think of writing a children’s book. Her friend mentioned an upcoming publishing company and Erin, with no publishing experience, was delighted when she discovered Transfigure Publishing LLC. Their company offers services in editing, illustration, formatting, and graphic design for any aspiring authors. If anyone was interested in following in her footsteps, Erin recommends Transfigure Publishing. 

The cat, Bugsy, lounges by a copy of The Creepy Adventures of Gilly and Od.

She dedicated many weeks to the creation of the book. Occupying the months of July through September. She illustrated over 40 pages by hand on her digital tablet. “I promised myself that my next book will be started much earlier to prevent a second wave of Halloween Crunch Time.”

For now, Erin considers writing to be a hobby, only publishing her book alongside her existing career. She admits that she has a lot of learning to do in the realm of writing since the creation of her book. Through practice and working with her studio manager, Trevor Pryce, she has greatly improved her storytelling skills and writing abilities. After working with scripts for children’s television for so long, writing for children’s written word has almost become second nature. However, she seems open to the idea of publishing in the future saying, “who knows what the future holds?”

 

Our last author is Cero Mears who is currently a senior at GNA. Known around campus for positivity and kindness, Cero has taken the first dip into the writing realm with a dark and twisted story, “The Deal” 

Cover art for the physical copy of The Deal, by Cero Mears

To give a brief summary of the book, Ceo explains, “The story follows Cameron, a photography major in college. While taking photos for his current project, he stumbled upon the hide-out of a gang. The leader then gives him a choice: Join us or die. Cameron is then forced to go through three trials required to join the gang.”

“My favorite part of the book had to be the ending. I have always taken great joy in taking what people know about the world or characters I create and then flipping it on its head. I’m not completely happy with it and may republish it after editing or rewriting it, but I’m still proud to say that I am a published author.” 

Cero’s background in writing came from the classroom as early as middle school, receiving education and inspiration from English teachers “Mr. Budnick, Mr. Carey, Mrs. Jeffries, and Ms. Hyder, who have all made a tremendous impact on me,” Cero stated.

Cero has been thinking of concepts for characters and developing stories ever since middle school. Now as a senior with years of practice, Cero was able to fine-tune writing abilities and style that would help to create the foundation of storytelling. “I have learned to create suspense better and how to create unexpected endings,” Cero explained.

The process of constructing a storyline to publishing took Ceo several months. Once completed, Cero published on Amazon through “Kindle Direct Publishing,” which creates both physical and digital copies of books. “At first, I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to publish, and then I found KDP. I was able to quickly and easily self-publish my work and earn money for it.”

At the moment, writing is merely a hobby for this young artist, but as for a career, Cero plans to pursue an education in child care after graduating this upcoming May.

 

Please support these published authors by purchasing their books today.