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Smith likened life on Fundautum to America in the 1800s, when people rode horses and used lanterns, and engines were powered by steam. “It’s a lot easier to fly (in Fundautum),” Smith said of his make-believe world. In addition to heavier atoms that create a thickness to the air, people weigh less on his Earth-like world, he said.

The resemblance to Earth fascinated students. The notion of a thicker atmosphere made kids imagine what it would be like to jump on a trampoline in Fundautum. They also wondered what nighttime would be like with two full moons. An engineer and businessman, Smith told students that even though he studied science and math in college he was able to become an author.

He said the story of “The Dark Eagles: First Flight” about a boy named Kief had been swirling in his imagination for years. Eventually, Smith’s family insisted that he write down the stories. “It has taken five years for me to develop ‘The Dark Eagles’ series and complete the first book,” Smith said. A great idea is just the first step in writing a book, he told students, adding that extensive editing of a book is a must. The first draft of his book was 500 pages, but he whittled it down to 286 pages. Smith explained some common pitfalls that students might avoid when writing their own stories. Writers often “show a scene and then explain the scene,” he said. “Delete the explanation.” He suggested writing stories as if you’re watching a movie. “Show it so (readers) can see it in their eyes,” he said.

Smith, a Newbury Park resident, has been promoting his book in unique ways. He has hidden books in a few mountain areas and is a member of a geocaching group that uses GPS systems to discover clues that will lead to the hidden cache—a free copy of “The Dark Eagles: First Flight.” Smith’s wife, Jenelle, said the book is about freedom gained through adventure. Jenelle Smith said her husband’s creativity was a surprise. “I think for me, living with him for as long as I have, I never knew how creative his imagination was and how fun the world he created is in this book.” She hinted that other creatures will be introduced later in the series.

The library events at local middle schools were organized by school media center employees. At Lindero, Debra Byer arranged for all sixth- and seventh-grade students to attend the event to gain insight into how books are developed. “I like to expose students to as many different authors as possible,” she said. Smith will sell and sign copies of “The Dark Eagles: First Flight” at Barnes & Noble Booksellers from noon to 2 p.m. Sat., Feb. 16 at the Westlake Promenade.

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