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June 6, 2013
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9-year-old Truckee boy publishes debut novel

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Griffin Kutler Dodd is like most 9-year-old boys — he likes to camp out in his backyard, swim and play on his laptop. But there is one thing that sets him apart: The Truckee resident recently became a published author.

On May 19, Dodd’s debut novel, “Fire Dragon Academy,” was released, a story he wrote when he was 8 as a participant of the National Novel Writing Month’s Young Writers Program, an annual novel-writing project hosted throughout November.

“I always thought it would be easier to write a book, but when I wrote it, I learned that it’s really hard to write a book and it takes a really long time,” said Kutler Dodd, while sitting outside on his family’s back porch, wearing a white T-shirt bearing the slogan: “Writers Rock.”

“But it was a fun experience just to see my book come together,” he added.

It took Kutler Dodd a month to write “Fire Dragon Academy,” reaching his 10,000-word count goal for the National Novel Writing Month’s Young Writers Program, and several months afterward for editing.

“(Editing) it was really tedious, but in the end it was worth it because it feels really good having your book published,” he said. “The easy part was definitely writing it. The hard part was just sitting there for a few hours (daily) and just knocking out a chapter or two.”

Helping him throughout the editing process was Sue Welsch, a retired Sierra Nevada College professor and family friend, and Kutler Dodd’s mom, Traci Kutler.

“It’s tempting to give suggestions and hints as you’re looking at your child’s work,” Kutler said. “... It’s not my work, so it’s a bit of a humbling process. Let it be his work.”

After the novel was edited, and about 1,500 words were cut, it was sent to CreateSpace, a self-publishing company and supporter of National Novel Writing Month, so the family could receive five free paperback copies — the reward for National Novel Writing Month participants who meet their word count goal.

What happened next came as a surprise.

“When we told some people that he wrote the book, they instantly wanted it, so they said, ‘Where would we be able to get?’” Kutler said. “We said, ‘We could publish it through Amazon,’ and they said, ‘Yeah, you need to have it published.’”

CreateSpace, an Amazon company, made the novel’s availability on Amazon.com easy, Kutler said.

“Fire Dragon Academy,” which tells the tale of two best friends stumbling upon a magical portal that takes them to a school for wizards and witches where they cross paths with an evil wizard, already has a fan base among Kutler Dodd’s friends — one even posted a book review on Amazon declaring it the “best book ever.”

Kutler Dodd has already started writing the second and final installment in the “Fire Dragon Academy” series, with hopes of completing it by the end of summer.

“Everyone’s loving my book and requesting the second one, so I really have no choice but to write the second one,” he said.

Kutler Dodd’s parents couldn’t be prouder of him and his accomplishment.

“It’s something special,” said Jeff Dodd, Kutler Dodd’s dad. “(It’s) certainly something I wouldn’t have done at 9.”


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jun 7, 2013 03:09PM Published Jun 13, 2013 12:53PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.