Former Creston resident Dennis Staginnus has published his first novel, The Eye of Odin, which targets a middle-grade audience of young readers.
Staginnus, who graduated from Prince Charles Secondary School in 1991, has taken a patient route to becoming an author. After graduating, he earned a bachelor of arts degree in history — “There’s not much you can do with that!” — and then went on to add a bachelor of education to his resume. More recently, he has earned a master’s degree in leadership and administration.
Staginnus is well positioned to know what books will appeal to students. He works in Kamloops as a teacher-librarian. He began writing in his early twenties “when I saw Jurassic Park and learned about Michael Crichton.”
In The Eye of Odin, the first in a planned five-book series called The Raiders of Folklore, the protagonist is a 15-year-old thief whose latest heist involves stealing an ancient Viking relic from a museum in Vancouver. Grayle Rowen teams up with classmate Sarah Finn, and learns the hard way that witches exist and that Viking goddesses are not to be trifled with.
“Together, Grayle and Sarah learn the Viking artifact is a marker describing the whereabouts of the Eye of Odin, a mystical orb that allows its owner to see into the past, present, and future,” Staginnus said on a recent visit to Creston, where is mom and dad, Kristen and Udo, still live. “Now they must find the other markers in time before Hel, the Viking goddess of death, uses the Eye to destroy mankind.”
“My primary goal is to get young males to read,” he said. “The Eye of Odin evolved over a four-year period of writing. It was originally a lot longer than this.”
He settled on a plan for a five-book series, which allows him to keep the novels to about 60,000 words “and to be affordable for nine- to fifteen-year-olds.”
Staginnus plans for each successive book in the series to have a slightly more mature style, to reflect his readers’ increasing maturity as they read the stories. He hopes to produce a book a year until the series is complete.
“The Eye of Odin has been well received in the Kamloops area,” he said. “It sold 140 copies in the Kamloops Chapters store, which made it an in-store bestseller.”
The book was also a selection in the Kamloops Battle of the Books, which targets Grade 7 readers. Interviews on Kamloops television and CBC Radio have helped to get the word out.
While the book is set in world that is at the same time real and a fantasy, and sees its characters travel to Norway, the plot covers an action-packed and tension-filled two-day period.
“I wrote the story to keep young teen readers’ interest up, focusing on action rather than description,” he said.
Readers can get some background to The Eye of Odin online by delving into Double Cross and Fated, two 10-12,000-word prequels that help set up the series. They are available only online.