by Roger Zotti
His penname is Soda and he writes because, he said, “I’d explode and/or go crazy if I didn’t. I have tons of ideas and I want to get them down and bring them to life and not waste them.” He added, “I want my readers to get into my creations. I hope that people will enjoy my work and be inspired by it.”
Two authors who inspire Soda are R.L. Stine and Ray Bradbury. A big fan of R.L.’s “Goosebump” series, Soda pointed out “his knack for the spooky and fun is great.” As for Ray, Soda considers him “a poetic writer. ‘The Halloween Tree’ is one of my all-time favorite reads.” You’ll see their influence in Soda’s first full length novel, “The Wizard of Odd.” (Llumina Press)
Illustrated by Andrea Farr, “The Wizard of Odd” is book for all ages and involves a boy – his name is Donovan Bale – who survives a plane crash that apparently kills everyone else aboard. When Donovan awakens he finds himself in a strange land called Baziel (or Cloud City). “He’s surrounded by pink and blue people who feel his arrival is fate and he can help them in their battle against the dark side of their world that has started to reawaken,” said Soda, who’s also a musician.
Near the end of “The Wizard of Odd” Donovan explains to his parents, “…the plane crashed…and I wound up in the clouds with all these interesting people.” Some of them are the courageous Ateel and the equally courageous Lika; “a strange man known only as the Wizard of Odd” who’s held captive and must be freed; brave unicorns and some not-so-nice flying pigs; an evil witch who at one point cries out, “…my soul belongs to the demons,” and Donovan’s loyal stuffed rabbit, Toby, who comes to life in Baziel. And let’s not overlook the perilous, haunted forest through which Donovan and his friends journey to rescue the wizard. It “wasn’t evil,” Soda tells us, “but what inhabited it was” – and you’ll see it takes on a life of its own and becomes a crucial character in the narrative.
In part, the book is the story of young Donovan’s growth from someone who says early on, “I don’t know how much I can help… I have never fought before. I could hardly hurt a fly,” to someone who, as Soda writes, “…helped win a huge battle that saved a city he never knew existed.” Indeed the young man has grown. “The Wizard of Odd” is aglow with many memorable characters and an impossible-to-put-down storyline, along with plenty of excitement and suspense. Like all the best fantasy writers, Soda transports you to another world which you soon come to believe in.
For more information about the book and its author, visit www.myspace.com/thewizardofoddbook. And yes, Soda has a prequel planned: “It’ll be a spooky series of short stories and something on more of an adult level.”