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New author: ‘If you like Harry Potter, give it a try’

Todd Gallicano of Huntersville started writing “Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw” on a typewriter, helping him to focus his thoughts in the first draft.
Todd Gallicano of Huntersville started writing “Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw” on a typewriter, helping him to focus his thoughts in the first draft.

Todd Gallicano of Huntersville is a screenplay writer by nature, while his wife, Tiffany, teaches at UNC Charlotte. Gallicano was inspired to start writing his first novel by a dream that he woke up still thinking about.

“One of the things about screenplays, is that it’s a very confined medium,” said Gallicano. “This story lent itself to a bigger sort of canvas.”

The dream involved mythological creatures and a protagonist who feels out of place, an average young man, later named Sam London, who is searching for what makes him special. Gallicano started writing “Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw” on a typewriter, helping him to focus his thoughts in the first draft.

“I was very thoughtful about what I wrote, because I didn’t want to mess up, I didn’t want to have to re-type it.”

The process took about two years while he was working on other projects during that time. After he was finished with the draft, he sent out query letters to publishers.

“I sent out terrible query letters that never got a response,” Gallicano said.

He didn’t give up on the project, self-publishing it using Amazon.

“It was on Amazon for a few weeks as a paperback,” he said. He was contacted by a literary agent who expressed interest in representing Gallicano and his first novel. The agent began the process to take it to publishers in November of 2015, hoping for a deal.

Gallicano, with assistance, created a proposal to give publishers a visual context for his vision with the Sam London novels. He constructed a mockup that resembled an authentic case file, complete with “classified” designations, notes and redacted elements.

They even created a website to support it as well as wanted posters for the villians in the series.

Gallicano believes that visual representation of what the series could be sealed the deal, peaking the interest of Random House, which has agreed to two books with an option on a third.

“You create this world that has the capability of expanding, so you’re not just talking about one thing, you’re talking about a new world.”

The dream that launched the idea felt like it took place in a national park, Gallicano said, which is what inspired him to include national parks as action settings in his story.

The park rangers are even cast as heroes, in on the secret of mythological creatures in the world. Recruited by park ranger zoologist Dr. Vance Vantana, Sam London is taken on an adventure where he discovers the existance of mythological creatures, and that there’s even a government agency that protects them, the department of mythological creatures.

Hence, the “classified” files.

Targeted for ages 8-13, the book explores what it’s like to be a kid transitioning from childhood into being an early teenager with added responsibilities and questions about the future.

The secrecy of the creatures is in danger, and Sam London’s quest is to help them, all the while helping himself to feel like he does have a place in the world that’s anything but average.

“Some kids are good at math, some at music. He’s not good at those things, and he’s trying to find his one special thing.”

Gallicano said the adventure is anything but pessimistic.

“This isn’t a dark story,” he explained. “It’s a fun adventure story that sets up this world. If you like Percy Jackson, or Indiana Jones, or Harry Potter, give it a try.”

“Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw” was released in August and can be purchased on Amazon for $10.21 for the hardcover and $10.99 for the Kindle edition. The second novel is expected to be released in summer of 2018.

Cassie Fambro is a freelance writer: fambrocassie@gmail.com

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