January 23, 2009

“A World Away”: adventure with a lesson

By John Gleason *

Book written by: T.J. Smith

Characters named Frodo, Indy and Harry better be on the lookout. There’s a new hero in town and he is embarking on a quest that began 900 years ago.

"A World Away," book one in the Quest of Dan Clay trilogy is out and promises all the fast-paced action that the avid reader would expect in an adventure. But this story has more. It has a lesson.

"A World Away" is the first book for author T.J. Smith, but he has been honing his craft for many years.

"Throughout my career, I’ve done a lot of writing for the Catholic Church," said Smith, who works for the Denver Archdiocese. "About three years ago, I had an idea for a story. That idea mushroomed and today, book one of the Dan Clay series is a reality."

Smith said he was partially inspired by old serials, the kind once shown weekly on television. He said seeing the next installment was part of what made the story special. That said, Smith sat back with a sly grin on his face and set the scene for "A World Away"—the ultimate in cliffhangers.

The novel begins when 50 men are punished for committing unspeakable acts. They are banished to a parallel world where they take on an ugly transformation, morphing into creatures that are half-man, half-serpent. Nine centuries later a child named William Clay disappears without a trace.  Ultimately, William’s younger brother Dan takes up the challenge of finding his sibling. Discovering the portal to the parallel world, Dan and his companions set out to a place where nothing is as it seems and the unimaginable becomes reality.

The story is steeped with tension Smith describes as "creepy and crawly." But where some novels of this genre often include gratuitous violence or have profanity scattered about in generous amounts, the World Away reader will find that Dan Clay’s journey is one of goodness and doing the right thing. The book features characters with virtue.

"This is a series that has moral lessons intermingled in the text," Smith said. "It’s what we basically hope to teach the younger generation about not lying and being honest. Adventure, yes, but I also want people to know they have a good wholesome story."

Although the book is geared toward the young reader, Smith said it’s the sort of novel that adults will enjoy, too. And parents won’t have to worry about whether there are any inappropriate scenes.

"They won’t have to screen it," he said.

There’s no ring or bullwhip or magic wand involved. Instead, "A World Away" promises to be the beginning of a whole new adventure for the imaginations of young readers.

"A World Away" can be purchased through the publisher’s Web site, www.tatepublishing.com (1-888-361-9473) or online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million and Target.


"A World Away," by T.J. Smith. Tate Publishing (2007) 328 pp., $23.99

Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register.

John Gleason writes for the Denver Catholic Register.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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