‘I wanted my students to have something different’

Published 6:39 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Surry teacher-turned-author writes fantasy novel

When Surry County Public Schools teacher-turned-author D.W. Saur was taking courses for his library science degree, he began reading as much young adult fiction as he could – only to feel as if he were reading the same story over and over.

The titles and the characters’ names were different, but books with female protagonists, especially in the fantasy genre, tended to always have male characters and romantic interests that, in Saur’s view, overshadowed the main character and detracted from the story.

“I wanted my students to have something different in all aspects of a fantasy novel,” Saur said.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

As the adage goes, sometimes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. So, about 10 years ago, Saur took a chance and started writing.

Now, he’s the published author of three young-adult novels and a children’s book, “Metal Like Me.”

“Vinny is from a family of metalheads and like his parents, he’s one too,” states Amazon.com’s description of “Metal Like Me.” “As a child Vinny was unaware of his family’s differences, but as he got older, Vinny noticed that he was, in fact, not like other children. … Join Vinny as he shares his story of bullying, difference, coping, and perseverance.”

Saur published his debut children’s book in 2019. It received a “Story Monsters” award in 2020 in the school life category, and a “Purple Dragonfly” honorable mention in the category of school issues.

He then followed with “Dark Days,” a young-adult fantasy novel that takes place in the land of Sori, where a ghost-like figure is fomenting rebellion. The book follows Maya, a skilled hunter and master smith who has yet to undertake her clan’s right of passage. With the goddess Nantosuelta’s blessing, she begins her quest to find her powers and prevent war.

“The sects in Sori were inspired by my love for the horror genre and supernatural creatures,” Saur said. “However, since I wanted this work to be different I put my spin on what are considered vampires, werewolves, and witches in Sori.”

“Dark Days” was published by Koehler Books in October 2020.

“I hear people frequently use (Harry Potter author) J.K. Rowling’s ‘close to 100 rejections’ as an example of the number of rejections one can get,” Saur said. “I have well exceeded that number with agents and publishers combined.”

Saur believes he could have had “Dark Days” out sooner had he followed what other authors were doing with incorporating romance, but “the goal was to create an original story,” he said.

In 2019, Saur had landed a contract for “Dark Days” but the publisher ended up closing before printing the work. When that happened, Saur hired an editor and began another round of edits.

“The path to publishing has been a long journey filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” Saur said. “I never gave up because I believed in my stories , especially ‘Dark Days.’”

“Dark Days” won the 2020 Royal Dragonfly Book Award in the categories of young-adult fiction and science fiction/fantasy. It went on to win a 2021 honorable mention in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards young-adult category for action. It was also a finalist in the 2021 American Fiction Awards for the “epic/high” category and a finalist in the categories of science fiction/fantasy and teens 13-18 in the 2021 Feathered Quill Book Awards.

Saur has two other young-adult novels out: “The Last Christmas” and “Just Friends.” Later this year, he plans to debut a historical fiction novella titled “The Untold: Stories from World War II.”

At Surry County Public Schools, Saur is an instructional technology resource teacher, or ITRT. Before that, he spent nearly a decade teaching middle school social studies with Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools.