For Todd Weitzel, administrative assistant at Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, there’s nothing worse than reading a story and knowing exactly what will happen next. His own adventurous life story has followed suit. Todd’s new novel, The Hall of Worlds: The Beginning of the End, brings to life the ideas he’s carried with him for 10 years.
The book follows Xachary Biddle, an average 10-year-old boy, as he finds himself stranded on a planet light years from Earth surrounded by alien creatures (both friendly and deadly). Throughout the novel, Xachary realizes the fate of Earth and countless other worlds rests in his hands.
Todd’s love for science fiction stems from a moment in his childhood when he vividly remembers reading Stephen King’s The Talisman on the bus ride home from school. He always loved the type of reality-bending book that transported him into another world.
“At one point, while I was reading, a turn in the action made the hairs stand up on my arm, and I felt like I was part of the story,” Todd recalls. “I had to put the book down and look around to remind myself that it wasn’t real.”
Since then, he dreamed of writing with the same kind of energy. In 7th grade English, his teacher, Mrs. Kirby, whom he still remembers today, asked his class to write a short story that included science facts. “I think this is when I truly felt the ‘writing bug,’” Todd recalls, “because what was supposed to be a one-page assignment quickly turned into a 12-page story.” The assignment mixed his love for writing with his fascination with science. After graduating high school, Todd earned a bachelor’s degree in English.
Today, Todd keeps a journal full of ideas that could one day turn into novels. His inspiration comes from people he meets and places he sees. He has always loved books with relatable characters, so creating organic characters has become central to Todd’s writing approach. “When I place my characters in a situation, their reactions should make sense,” he says. “They should channel real emotions.” He strives to connect with his readers so vividly that the real world melts away around them.
Every book about writing addresses, in one way or another, the difficulty of putting thoughts into words. Not just the technical challenges of writing, like eliminating clutter and using the correct tenses, but the inability to start, finish or progress on a story. Todd’s journey as an author was no different.
He spent five years outlining, writing and editing the book as well as fighting writer’s block. “Occasionally, I had to step away from the book and come back to it,” he says. His pains were well worth it. “I’ve carried around the ideas in my head for a long time, so it feels good to get them out there.”
Todd is nothing if not disciplined. “I strive for perfection,” he says. “I could edit this book forever and always find things to change. However, I got to the point where I felt it was good.”
Through his characters, Todd hopes readers will discover the best of humanity and be encouraged to work toward a better world. He also hopes readers will enjoy his suspenseful ending.
For those striving to write their own book, Todd’s advice is to stick with it. “If you love to write, do it,” he says. “Find the time and make it happen. It’s both exhilarating and frightening to finally have your words out there for others to read, but it’s amazing to see your work in print.”
Much like his main character, Todd fought seemingly insurmountable odds to make his dream a reality. He hopes there will be some sequel books in his future, but doesn’t like to know exactly what will happen next.
As for the future of Xachary Biddle? Well, you’ll have to read to find that out.