Acclaimed author Stephen King is giving back to his home state. King is donating $6,500 to Farwell Elementary School, located in Lewiston, Maine, so that a group of students can publish their own books. King’s donation to the students in its Author Studies Program mean the students can publish the two books they’ve written.
As a group, the students — some of whom have graduated and are now in middle school — have been working on the books over the course of four years – working on the character development, plot, and overall storyline with the help of another Maine author, Gary Savage. The end result of their hard work is two books — an original and a sequel — and a 290-page manuscript. The books are ready for publication and with the help of King’s donation, they’ll be sent to a publishing company and available for purchase.
The books are about a boy’s adventures during the pandemic. Although the Author Study program has been in existence for several years, its focus shifted when the COVID-19 pandemic first reached Maine in March 2020. Savage and Martin moved the program online and tasked the students with taking Savage’s existing novel Fletcher McKenzie and the Passage to Whole and reworking it into an entirely new tale that incorporates their personal experiences in the coronavirus pandemic.
Principal Amanda Winslow said she’s proud of the students and what they’ve accomplished and praised the dedication of librarian Kathy Martin and author Gary Savage — who advised the students — towards making this happen. “I think it’s hard for kids to really understand the lesson of perseverance and patience, but they’ve been working on this book … and they’re definitely starting to reap the rewards of their hard work,” she said.
“Really incorporating their own experiences into the book, really that extra kind of feeling of this is a real book that you can really get your hands around, and once you start to read it you can’t put it down,” said Savage.
The books are expected to be printed and published in April of this year with the students in the program credited as contributing authors. “This student inspired book, ‘Fletcher McKenzie and the Passage to Whole,’ is a journey through Maine history and the wildly fantastic and healthy world of Whole. The major edits, written by elementary students, give the readers exactly what they crave at a time of Covid-19 fatigue and exhaustion — excitement, suspense, vividly funny characters, healthy eating, and subtle nutrition lessons, history lessons, respect for Native American history, and traditions, confusing and strange ventures, magical journeys, deadly danger, and closure.”
King’s donation is helping dozens of aspiring writers get one step closer to realizing their dreams. The $6,500 donation came through the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, a private nonprofit King and his wife launched in 1986 to help give back to local Maine communities. The foundation provides grants for projects in Maine that address the underlying causes and consequences of social and environmental problems. Giving priorities include health and human services, literacy, arts, and projects that will affect the most members of a community.