In the fall of 2010, I had a professional crisis.  I have been a middle school English teacher my entire career and each year, it seems, kids want to read less and less. I would take my class to the library every other week, and every time I felt like a pinball scoring no points as I ran from student to student asking them if they found an exciting book to read.   I felt like a complete failure when the following trip to the library produced the same students returning last week's unread book and searching for a new one.

I finally decided to change my strategy.  Instead of asking each student individually what type of book they wanted at the time, I created a survey for every student at once, listing questions about what they thought the perfect book would be like.

As you can imagine, many answers were quite diverse.  However, there were some ideas that almost every student mentioned.  Over and over I found myself reading some of the same requests.

I found myself slightly obsessed (okay, VERY obsessed) with their answers, and as I continued to pour over their surveys, a storyline began to form in my mind.  I began to think that I could write this unmade story that students this age are demanding.

For almost half a year I worked on constructing a plot that eventually became The Magi, making sure that I stuck to the requests of my students.  It's been about a year now, and I'm finally ready to share my story.  I may have initially written it for my students, but if it's good enough, I hope to be able to contribute something fun to read for kids everywhere.

Kevin M. Turner


  1. I'm interested to hear what the results of your survey are, not sure if it's something you are willing to share right now but would love to know what it is they feel some of the literature they currently are reading is lacking.

  2. I don't think it's about literature out there that is lacking. I hope that's not the impression I gave off. It's more about the fact that the kids that I teach (Jr. High) need constant stimulation and need to be hooked immediately. There's such a variety of different preferences with this age group, but there were some constants. I'll try to outline them:

    1. A book that makes them want to keep turning the page
    -Solution: Cliffhangers for every chapter (or at least most chapters)
    2. A book that's unbelievably believable
    -Solution: Create a supernatural world where the power is not
    unheard of but it's still new. Then make it so realistic
    that they want to try it in their backyard.
    3. A book that makes them feel emotions
    -Solution: Create a character that they can identify with and make
    them go through some of our most acute emotions
    (sadness, anger, worry, guilt)
    4. A book that's fun
    -Solution: Create an adventure that goes along with all the fantastic

    I'm not at all saying that my book is unique in these areas. I just wanted another option for them to satisfy this list of desires they have.

    Hope that makes sense...