■ BY SUE ERWIN
Island author David Sparks will be speaking at the Johann Fust Community Library at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3 in the library loggia. Sparks is the author of “Burying Pinkie Pie” and “Built to Fail.”
“Burying Pinkie Pie” is a story about a teenager who is dealing with the antics of life in a setting similar to Boca Grande. The protagonist is a 17-year-old boy named Wendell Wolf. Wendell is new to Florida’s Banyan Island, and he launches a plot to rescue the corpse of Pinkie Pie, the 350-pound pig in which resides the spirit of the dearly departed grandmother of Samantha Granger, Wendell’s first girlfriend.
Although it was written from the perspective of a 17-years old male, audiences of all ages have enjoyed the book.
“There is a certain element of adventure which I think draws a larger audience demographic,” Sparks said. “It’s a crossover between a young adult genre and adult fiction.”
As part of the research for the book, Sparks recruited several teenagers from all around the country to read the book and then have a conversation with him about the content and language, ensuring it would be written using current and modern dialect.
“After I finished about three quarters of the manuscript, I met with the kids and we talked about whether the relationship between the boy and the girl sounded reasonable,” Sparks said. “I was particularly concerned about using appropriate teenage language and lingo, which is common to authors who write for kids or about kids,” Sparks said.
His cousin is a high school English teacher, and four of her students helped out with the research for the book.
Some of the ladies who play tennis at the Boca Bay Pass Club also read the book and passed it along to kids they knew.
“So I had a lot of commentary from a variety of readers.”
The book was published in March of 2018.
Sparks is almost finished with the sequel to “Pinkie Pie,” which does not yet have a title. In the second book, the characters experience different adventures in the Everglades. The author intends to continue writing about the same characters in different settings, eventually creating a series.
Sparks said he’s always been a fan of serial young adult books, which is what inspired him to write the novel.
“I really enjoyed reading The Hardy Boys, Tom Swift and Nancy Drew – I’ve read every one of them. I also enjoy Harry Potter and the Stephenie Meyer books.”
Sparks also will speak about his first book, “Built to Fail,” which is based on events he experienced throughout his government and political career. He served as regional director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and investigated a case that never was closed. Years ago, a Massachusetts Congressman-turned-developer got away with arson and fraud on a massive scale. In the book, the character is back for more. He’s built a wind-energy project … and rigged it to fail.
The book is built out of a situation that occurred while he was working at FEMA. There was a fire in a mill complex in Massachusetts. The mill was being renovated and there was a suspicious fire that was never solved by the FBI.
“But they knew who did it, and we knew who did it, but we could never prove it was arson because there were chemicals in the floors,” Sparks said. “It turns out many people who are retired have an idea for a book in their mind that they want to write, like a chronicle of their history, and that’s what this book was for me.”
Sparks said it was a pretty complex book to compose, but since he knew the characters, setting and the plot before he wrote the book, it made the process easier.
“Built to Fail” was published in 2017.
Both books are available on Amazon.
A conversation between Sparks and interviewer Dod Fraser will be the format for the discussion, followed by a reception and book signing.
The event is free and open to all. The library is located at 1040 10th St. W. in Boca Grande.
“Island Authors” is part of a new program called “Writers of Boca Grande” sponsored by the Johann Fust Library Foundation. This will be the last event the foundation will sponsor for the season.
For more information on future events or to view this past season’s scrapbook, visit jfcl.org.