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Local Author Invites Readers Into World of 'Spartanica'

Powers Molinar, aka John Massa, recently released a sci-fi novel for young readers.

"Spartanica" by Powers Molinar.
"Spartanica" by Powers Molinar.
When Powers Molinar reads some of the books that his son enjoys, he often finds himself thinking, "I would have done that differently."

His son is a seventh-grader at Highland Middle School and has been passionate about reading since he was just 6 or 7 years old. He largely enjoys the sci-fi genre.

"He gets excited about it," said Molinar. "I started reading a lot of those books."
 
But when Molinar kept wanting to change elements of the books, he decided he should just start writing them himself.

"It happened often enough where I thought, well, enough of being a critic," said Molinar. "If you thought you would have done something differently, then do something differently."

Molinar, aka Libertyville resident John Massa, recently published a sci-fi novel for young adults called "Spartanica." 

The book tells the story of middle school-aged brothers who live in a suburb north of Chicago. Their aunt, an archaeologist, often brings home artifacts to study in the basement. One night, one of the brothers is awoken by a strange noise in the basement. Soon, both brothers are in the basement investigating the noise. It turns out that one of the artifacts is the gateway to a parallel planet, and they land in the ruins of a city named Spartanica. 

"What they find is that everything on the planet's been leveled," said Molinar. "There's been a big apocalypse. There's not a building standing in the place, and there are no people—just a few stragglers here and there."

What follows is the boys' quest to return home, and all of the challenges they meet along the way, Molinar said.

Molinar thought about the book for a solid year before he wrote it, then spent another year working through several drafts. He even had a small team of "beta readers"—which included his son's friends—to read the book twice and offer feedback.

"I would bounce ideas off of my son and daughter and if a chapter wasn't grabbing them, I'd change it," Molinar added. "So I had that input along the way."

Molinar also had two copy editors read through the book.

"I would have bet my car that I had that thing perfect," he said, laughing.

He was amazed at the feedback he received.

"The people that have read it said, 'I couldn't put it down.' Part of that is because the beta readers were just priceless" with their feedback, Molinar said. "I'm really confident in the story that it'll hold people's interest."

Molinar performed a lot of research into potential publishing houses and ultimately decided to seek out independent publishing, including through CreateSpace on Amazon. He was surprised to learn that when authors go through publishing houses, they typically earn just 10 to 12 percent of the sales.
 
He also decided to use a pen name that is a tribute to two family names. 

"Spartanica" is now available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. It is available both in print and as an e-book. 

"I'm really hoping that for kids, in the books that I write, that I can generate that level of interest and make them want to read more," said Molinar. 

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