Imagine a world of fear and despair controlled by warlocks and wizards — and the only one who can save it is a 14-year-old boy who must face an evil queen, a ferocious yeti, a sea monster and other magical creatures.
The self-published “Quest of the Phoenix” book series is the product of the fervid imagination of Avon resident Charleston Shi, 13.
Charleston’s first book in the series, “The Phoenix and the Yeti,” came out in September and is now sold online by major retailers, such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. His second book, “Storm of the Kraken,” has just been published and distributed. The ambitious teen plans an 11-book series.
As a teenager who speaks Vietnamese, Chinese and English, Charleston sees a little of himself in the character — a boy named Tom who must be reborn as a phoenix before he can battle myriad mythological monsters.
“When I was younger I listened to the stories from Chinese culture called the Journey to the West, and then I became interested in Norse culture, so this is just how my imagination created my own version,” he said.
Charleston is the whole package: honor roll student, athlete, pianist, vocalist, actor, and now a second-time published author. He aspires to be a lawyer, which he acknowledges will require a lot of writing, so he sees all this work as part of his plan for a successful future.
As an eighth-grader at Avon Middle School, Charleston also sees the stories through a teenager’s eyes.
“It is a search for independence and looking at the other side of life where there are obstacles to overcome,” he said.
The book series, which Charleston started two years ago, is aimed at the age 9-12 audience. When he was younger, he enjoyed reading authors such as Charles Dickens and Mark Twain, as well as books about legends and mythology.
The books have been published locally through Dog Ear Publishing on Indianapolis’ Northwestside.
Miles Nelson, one of the owners of Dog Ear Publishing, says Charleston Shi stands out not only for his age, but also because of the support his entire family has put into the publishing effort.
“When they came in — the whole family came in — to discuss self-publishing, I understood how important it was to them to maintain control over the books because they have a lot of personal interest in this. They are just so proud of Charleston,” Miles Nelson said.
Charleston’s parents, Runfa and Annie Shi, said they chose to publish the books to document this time of their son’s life. They moved to their Avon home in 2003.
“We didn’t know how well-organized he was in his writing until we saw the plan for the whole series. We knew he was writing all the time, and we didn’t want to lose these stories,” Runfa said.
It truly is a family effort. Charleston’s younger sisters, Elizabeth and Angelina, both have contributed poems that start each chapter in the books.
The series’ third book, “Rage of the Serpents,” is slated for release in April.
Interested in learning more about self publishing? Contact Dog Ear Publishing – 317-228-3656