Chatham Author Pens Sequel to Children's Book
Ann Tufariello's second fantasy book takes place in nearby Mendham and is geared toward 9-, 10- and 11-year-old readers.
Next to a side door in Ann Tufariello's Chatham Township home, several boxes are piled on top of each other.
The boxes contain copies of Tufariello's new book, "The Firestone," a fantasy tale for pre-teenage children. The book is set in nearby Mendham and is a sequel to Tufariello's first fiction book, "The Breakthrough," which was published in 2009.
Tufariello, 44, worked for about a year on "The Firestone" while her three daughters were studying at Chatham High School. Her children helped inspire the first book almost eight years ago.
"We had gone to a Labor Day carnival in Mendham," Tufariello said, and her children wanted a bedtime story when they returned home. "I just started making up a story about a hot air balloon, and every day I would add to the story."
The bedtime story turned into "The Breakthrough," a tale of 13-year-old Jack Barton who, over a Labor Day weekend, travels to a fourth dimension populated by aliens via a hot air balloon in search of a cure for his brother, who is in a coma.
In "The Firestone," Jack has returned to earth and is questioned by police about the disappearance of a young boy named Bradley. As he tries to find clues to Bradley's whereabouts, Jack boards a roller coaster which travels to Jupiter where kids are being kidnapped and forced into a deadly game.
Tufariello's ideas for her stories come to her unbidden: in dreams, while she's driving, from personal experience (after a bug flew deep into her ear at a barbeque, Tufariello included a similar scene in "The Breakthrough") or as she sits at her computer to write.
"These scifi, fantasy adventure stories just pop into my head," she said. "I start writing it, and then I get another idea and another idea."
When she wrote "The Breakthrough," Tufariello said she had next to no idea where she wanted to go. "I'd press 'delete' on stuff I'd been working on for six weeks," she said. "I tried to outline the second one a lot better, ... but still, I did not know the ending when I started it."
Each of the books took about a year to write. After "The Breakthrough," it took her another year to find a publisher. Finally she found Arctic Wolf Publishing, and was able to get "The Breakthrough" onto shelves.
When the first book was released, Tufariello did a tour of about 60 schools in her home state of Florida and in the area, including Lafayette Avenue School. She hopes to do the same thing again with "The Firestone."
"I really love going to the schools," she said. "This is my sweet spot. I just love this age, right before they go to middle school."
Tufariello thinks she understands the age group well, and before she sent her final draft of "The Firestone" to her publisher, she had several kids in the age group she writes for read it and give her feedback.
At the ages of 9, 10 and 11, Tufariello said, kids are "pretty sophisticated. They're not little kids anymore, and they can handle the vocabulary and they can handle the concepts, but they're still pretty innocent. They want adventure, they want mysteries and they want actions. They don't necessarily want long descriptions of things."
The books, she said, are a good read for boys and girls. Tufariello has all daughters and all sisters, but she enjoys writing from a boy's point of view. She calls Jack Barton her "alter ego.
There is another benefit to making her main character a boy, too. "A lot of times, boys won't read a story with a girl heroine, but girls don't really care," Tufariello said. "So if you want to appeal to a wider audience, you make the hero a boy."
Will there be a third book? Tufariello says yes, but not for a while yet. "Right now I'm going to devote the next several months to marketing the book," she said. "I just have a vague idea of what I would like the third book to be."
"The Firestone" is available now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, both as paperback books and as e-books for Kindles and Nooks. It is also available at Sages Pages in Madison.
To learn more, visit Tufariello's website.