David Harrell hasn’t entirely gotten used to the reality yet that he’s a published author.It all happened so fast.The Fort Worth resident, a ninth-grade English teacher at North Crowley High School, decided one day in February 2013, pretty much out of the blue, that he wanted to write a young adult novel.“There was no intention of publishing it at first,” Harrell says. “That wasn’t the goal. It was just something that I felt I’d like to try.”But one thing kept leading to the next.Before he knew it, he had the first 10,000 words of manuscript. Then 30,000. Then an entire book with the satisfying words “The End” on the final page. And ultimately a contract with a San Antonio-based publisher to share Confederation of Monsters: The Ambassador’s Apprentice with the world.“It’s overwhelming how much fun this has been,” Harrell says.The book is about three middle school misfits who find themselves thrust into a world where monsters from bedtime stories are real and the Bogeyman is making a grab for global domination.The book came out in May. It’s not racking up Harry Potter-caliber sales numbers. Black Rose Writing is a small publishing company, after all, and the book isn’t as slickly packaged as J.K. Rowling’s works. But sales have easily surpassed Harrell’s initial expectations.Perhaps more rewarding is the enthusiastic feedback he’s getting from young readers.“I think I signed three dozen copies on the last day of school,” he says. “I let the kids in my class, as their final book report, if they wanted, they could read my book. Some of the kids identified with the kids in the book to the point that they asked, ‘Did you write this about me?’“Well, not my intention. But the kids in the book are a lot like some of the kids I’m seeing in my classroom. They’re the ones who maybe aren’t the best in sports or the top students, so they don’t get the attention and maybe they get the idea that they’re insignificant.“What I wanted to show was that even these kids, the ‘insignificant’ ones, can be greater than what they think they are.”Harrell, a TCU alum (Class of 1998), will be signing copies at the Hulen Shopping Center Barnes & Noble (4801 Overton Ridge Blvd. in Fort Worth) from 1 to 3 p.m. July 5.That’s another adventure that he never expected to come from writing a book.“When I started writing, it was because I thought it would be cool to have something that I could read to my kids,” Harrell says. “And I thought it would be good to have something to show them and say, ‘See, you can accomplish anything, even if you’ve never done it before.“Beyond that, I didn’t have any expectations, even when I signed the book contract. But as time went on, I started letting more and more people read it. They kept saying how much they enjoyed it, how creative it was, how they liked the imagery.“My wife always says that kids are able to relate because I have the imagination of a high schooler — and sometimes the maturity of one!“But I’ve got to say, it’s really exciting to have my name on the cover of a book.”Only now is Harrell beginning to think big when it comes to Confederation of Monsters.“I’m hoping this crosses over that threshold from young readers to adults,” he says. “That’s how it happened with Harry Potter. Originally, those books were for kids. Then parents started to read it and they fell in love with it because it brought out some of their childhood memories.“I think this book could have that kind of appeal to adults.”
Confederation of Monsters: The Ambassador’s Apprentice
by David A. Harrell
Black Rose Writing, $15.95
Meet the author
Harrell will sign copies at Barnes & Noble (4801 Overton Ridge Blvd. in Fort Worth) from 1 to 3 p.m. July 5.