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Bradford author publishes new book for young male readers

'I always wanted to write a book that I myself would have enjoyed when I was younger,' says Bradford's Jim Hepburn, whose first novel was recently published

Jim Hepburn loved to read growing up, but as a teenage boy, both he and his parents found it difficult to find novels geared toward his demographic.

That’s what first led the Bradford West Gwillimbury resident down the path toward becoming an author.

With a passion for writing, five years ago Hepburn decided he would write the kind of book he would have wanted to read as a teen. Now at 29, Hepburn’s first novel Hunted by Fire was recently published.

“I always wanted to write a book that I myself would have enjoyed when I was younger,” he says. “There seems to be a lot of books for teenage girls, but I remember always struggling to find books for myself.”

Hunted by Fire follows 15-year-old Felix Deltorei, who lives in a world ruled by dragon gods, as he uses his intelligence to overcome challenges all while seeking a feeling of belonging.

“He struggles with a sense of belonging like many young men do in their teens, and he also struggles with knowing what’s going on isn’t right but that how his world is,” said Hepburn. “I think a lot of young people struggle with that idea, especially now.

"I wanted to focus on having a young protagonist that’s not trained in combat and who isn’t necessarily charismatic like his friends, but one who has a very inventive mind.”

Hepburn always wanted to write a fantasy novel that would be entertaining and connect on a deeper level with the reader.

“I always wanted to write something that had this overwhelming presents of a threat because when you’re younger and stepping out into the world for the first time, especially in high school, the world is a big scary place and you’re not really sure how it’s going to turn out for you,” Hepburn explained. “I wanted to write a book that had the same feel and I used fantasy elements as the threat that a regular human boy would have to overcome.”

The process for Hepburn began when he had the idea for Hunted by Fire at 24 and over the last five years, he’s worked at completing his first novel.

“It’s a very crazy overwhelming experience,” he says. “It feels like I had a baby in some ways, a creative baby. In the beginning, you have all these ideas that you want to figure out how to make into something. You’re trying to harness a lot of this chaos and make it into something that’s real.

"When I started, I wrote a couple of of chapters, but I felt very overwhelmed as I struggled with huge problems like, how do I make this interesting? How do I develop these characters into people that feel real? How do I capture the reader and tell the story that I’m trying to tell?”

After putting it aside for an extended period of time as he contemplated those major questions, Hepburn picked it back up at 25.

“Then, I just tried to focus on one thing at a time and I had an overarching idea of where I wanted the story to begin and the first book to end,” he said. “That made it a lot easier because then I could take my characters, when they’re new to the reader, and figure out how I could transform them to then accomplish the end goal.”

With his first book now under his belt, Hepburn has already started writing the follow-up to Hunted by Fire.

“It’s just a hobby for me right now, but it would be a dream to do this full-time one day,” he said. “It’s something that’s gripped me in a way that nothing else has, so it’s something I plan on doing for many years to come because I think it’s fun and I think it’s awesome to write something for young boys that’s exciting.”

Right now, Hunted by Fire is available here on Amazon in paperback and e-book, but Hepburn would like to to get an audiobook done in the next year and is hopeful local bookstores will be interested in stocking a local indie author.

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Rob Paul

About the Author: Rob Paul

Rob Paul is a journalist with BradfordToday and InnisfilToday. He has a passion for sports and community feature stories.
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