By Valerie Ipson
Certainly, a first-time-ever backpacking trip and the duties as a brand new deacon cause every Latter-day Saint boy a bit of angst.
These important milestones are at the foundation of a middle-grade novel, titled Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero by Arizona author, Matt Peterson. The middle-grade novel, published under the Bonneville Books imprint, views life through the eyes of 12-year-old Andrew. He fails at Capture the Flag and pretty much everything else, but, in the end, must prove not only physical strength, but spiritual strength as well.
Matt says the lack of fun books for LDS boys is what inspired Matt to fill that void.
“I remember thinking that Deseret Book had lots of fun books for girls but very few geared toward boys,” he says. “There wasn’t anything that spoke to the whole process of growing up in the Church for a young man, and I thought that wasn’t right.”
That’s when Andrew’s journey began to take shape, then soon became Matt’s first finished novel.
Matt says, “I loved Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Matt Christopher, and pretty much anything I could get my hands on [as a young reader]. In my mind, Henry and the Clubhouse is still one of the best novels ever written, and I can trace my love of reading back to that book.”
He hopes his novel is a means to a much bigger end.
“I want readers to know that they can do great things and that they are stronger than they think,” he says. “The book is about a group of kids who, by all standards, are weak and simple, but not in the eyes of Heavenly Father. Kids need to know there are things they can and will do to change the world if they can just understand who they really are.”
As a training manager at a software company in Chandler, Matt has been writing papers and other expository works for a long time. He’s only been writing fiction for the past few years and still feels pretty new to it. Even so, his first novel earned recognition this past spring when selected as a finalist for the Whitney Awards, an awards program for novels written by LDS authors. The Whitney awards are presented each May in a ceremony held in Provo, Utah.
With a busy Church calling, a family of five kids, and a “day job,” Matt finds it challenging to fit in writing time, but plans to continue the Epic Tales series.
A member of the Meridian Pointe Ward, Mesa Desert Ridge Stake, Matt has worked with Scouts and young men for over 10 years.
He says, “Legally, I guess I have to say that any similarities [in my novel] to real people are purely coincidental, but, in reality, these characters are a conglomeration of kids I’ve known as a youth leader in the Church or in my own childhood. There’s a little bit of me in them, too, I guess. The experiences are pretty much all fictional, but based on things that did or could have happened on any given Scout trip.”
He believes, young men, as well as their parents and leaders, will relate to this funny, engaging, sometimes tender coming of age story.
Tales of a Misfit Hero is available on Amazon.com.