It seems like Colin Naughton has already found his calling in life. He is 9 years old and has already published his first children’s book, has his second on the way and has a deal to write three more.
Also, while preparing to enter the fourth grade at Immaculate Conception Catholic Regional School in Cranston, he has found the time to begin writing his first novel.
“I’m very proud of him. It’s encouraging to see him like this,” said Bill Naughton, Colin’s dad. “He sticks to it. He does it himself.”
Colin, who is the grandson of Warwick Representative Eileen Naughton, said he wrote his first book as a project for school two years ago when he was only 7.
“It all started when people in my class were writing little books for Halloween,” said Colin, about his inspiration for his first children’s book.
The book is called “Not So Spooky Halloween,” and tells the story of a young boy named Colin who walks just ahead of his parents while trick-or-treating one Halloween and encounters some spooky things, including a creepy barn (inspired by the Warwick farm Colin lives on with his family), a scarecrow and Jack O’Lanterns. Colin becomes frozen with fear until he finds a hero.
“Mom saves the day,” said Bill.
“She puts a flashlight in his pocket,” said Colin, explaining how his character is able to face his fears and enjoy Halloween.
Bill explained that Colin’s first draft of the story was written in pencil, with about two lines per page. Colin’s sister Caitlyn, who was only 4 years old at the time, drew some pictures to accompany the story.
Bill explained that Colin’s teacher was very impressed with the creativity of the story and suggested they look into having it published.
Bill, who is a doctor, had no knowledge of the publishing world but agreed to his son’s request to try and have the book published. He took to Google and searched for publishers that accept book submissions.
They put together a makeshift book and mailed copies out to a number of publishers; over a month later, Publish America called and said they were interested.
So Bill sent in Colin’s manuscript and Publish America handled the rest, including illustrating the book and advertising it.
Colin said when the book was finally released last year around Halloween in Barnes & Noble, it sold out. It is also sold on Amazon and for the Kindle.
Colin’s book deal with Publish America is for a five-book “Not So Spooky” series. His second book, which he just completed in early July, tells the story of Colin’s first night in his own room away from his brother, Billy. It is called “Not So Spooky Bedtime,” and Colin expects it to be released in early 2014.
The story brings up the typical bedtime fears, such as monsters under the bed or in the closet but also addresses a very active imagination.
Colin remembers spending the night in his room when he heard all of his toys fall down and then saw a shadow on the wall.
“I heard something on the floor scattering,” recalled Colin, who said he ended up pulling the blanket over his head to hide.
It turns out it was his puppy Bella, who then jumped on the bed with a toy in her mouth. This experience made its way into Colin’s book.
Just as in his Halloween book, Colin said Mom saves the day.
“Mommy saves the day a lot in these books,” said Bill.
Colin said his other three books will concern the doctor’s visit, a trip to the dentist and the first day of school.
“I created this book for kids to face their fears,” said Colin.
Now Colin is setting his sights even higher, beginning work on his first novel about his newly created superhero.
“He wanted to create his own superhero, so we began throwing out ideas,” said Bill, who added that he and Colin are both big fans of superheroes. “It’s pretty amazing to see.”
Bill said the new hero is different from any other out there.
Although Colin wants to keep the details of his new superhero under wraps, he said that this hero does have super powers, unlike his favorite superhero Batman, and the hero’s arch-nemesis will be his best friend.
Bill said his son still finds time for activities like playing video games or playing outside, but he also works on his book every day, discussing and writing down ideas or writing full pages and chapters. Colin said he has written five chapters of the superhero book and is planning for a total of 24 chapters. He also envisions the book becoming a series of six books.
Bill said his son is really planning ahead when it comes to his hero’s storyline, too, envisioning things such as a sidekick, outer space villains and even a baby for the hero. Colin is also already taking into account the turmoil his hero will face when it comes to fighting with his best friend.
“It’s relative to how things are today,” said Bill of the setting of Colin’s superhero story, adding that Colin often watches the news with his parents and the family has discussions about news stories around the dinner table. Having “Nana” be a state representative also helps fuel the conversations.
Colin said he is a big fan of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films starring Christian Bale and his superhero’s universe is similar to that world.
“[Batman] has really cool technology,” said Colin about his favorite hero. “And in the future, we could become him [because he doesn’t have powers].”
Although he does not have a book deal for his superhero novel, Colin, who hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps and attend Bishop Hendricken High School in a few years, is still enjoying the writing process. So is his dad.
“I want to see it on the big screen,” said Bill about the new superhero.
While Publish America does own a percentage of the rights to the “Not So Spooky” series, Colin does receive a small amount of royalties from the sale. Bill explained that since the first book was very holiday-specific, it sold well in October but not year-round. While his royalty check is small, it will be put to good use.
“That will go to his college fund,” said Bill, adding that the remaining four books in the “Not So Spooky” series will be able to be sold year-round.
For now, Colin is enjoying the experience of writing both books and creating a comic strip series with three of his friends from school.
“We do it for fun,” said Colin about the comics, which are often printed in his school’s newspaper.
Bill said the best part of this experience is the effect it has had on his family.
“It’s making Colin want to write more, his sister write more,” he said, explaining that Caitlyn also wants to write and publish her own book called “The Butterfly Adventures.”
Bill added that Caitlyn loves to see what her brother is working on and was a big fan of “Not So Spooky Halloween.” She chose it for her bedtime story for weeks and even had her mom, Heidi, read it to her kindergarten class.
“[The best part of being published is] actually reading them because it’s my book,” said Colin. “It makes me think that I can do anything.”