Tyler Whitesides received the inspiration for his book while he was working as a part-time janitor at a middle school in Logan, Utah.
“It’s maybe not the most exciting of all jobs,” Whitesides said with a laugh. He added. “It would certainly be more exciting if janitors were fighting evil monsters in schools.”
And that’s exactly what happens in his book.
“Janitors” is the first installment in what is planned to be a five-book series. Its main character, 12-year-old Spencer, learns about the secret world of janitors — and it’s far more exciting than it seems.
Whitesides discussed observations he’d made about middle school students’ behavior while he worked.
“It just kind of made me wonder ‘What if it wasn’t their fault?’” he said.
Between these musings and brainstorm sessions while cleaning, the book series about janitors, magic cleaning supplies weapons and mystical school monsters was born.
Whitesides, who lives in Logan with his wife Connie, has been writing since he was very young. He actually completed a degree in percussion performance at Utah State University, but was quick to say that he’s always loved writing.
After graduation, he came to a point where he decided to buckle down and seriously give writing a shot. He explained that his endeavors have been made possible by his wife’s job as a third-grade teacher. He gets the chance to focus entirely on writing.
Whitesides turned in manuscript after manuscript to various publishing companies.
His third manuscript submitted to Shadow Mountain Publishing was accepted and put under contract last year. Whitesides believes he finally got it right after narrowing things to make a clearer audience for his book. After completing the long publishing process, his career as a writer is set to officially launch this week.
Whitesides is more than thrilled, but he still remains humble and cautious.
“I felt like I was getting closer and closer, but until it’s really official, I didn’t dare celebrate,” he said. “In the publishing world, you never know when the rug might get pulled out from under you.”
Even seeing his book in print today, he is still a bit starry-eyed about the whole thing. Considering that he just fulfilled what he said is a lifelong dream, that’s not surprising.
Whitesides will kick everything off with a book signing at Deseret Book in Logan. After that, he’s scheduled for book signings every Saturday in August and off on a national tour to visit schools.
“The focus of the presentation would be talking about how ordinary things can become extraordinary through the use of imagination,” Whitesides said of the school assemblies he’s already done and will continue doing.
He hopes to encourage reading, writing and imagination with his book.
“It’s such a school-centered book that I think kids will really, really be able to relate to it because with just a little bit of imagination, it could be happening at their school," he said.
Whitesides hopes that word about his book will travel fast.
“For younger and for older people, it’s more fun to share a book,” he said.Comment on this story
Having done a successful trial run with the book in his wife’s third-grade class, Whitesides estimates his target audience to be ages 8 and up. He said he hates to put a cap on the age limit because he still enjoys reading stories like these.
Whitesides just completed writing the second book and has already outlined the rest of them. That way, he’s been able to plant clues in his books.
“The adventure gets bigger and more exciting with every book,” he said.
The first book signing will be held at Deseret Book in Logan on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 12:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.tylerwhitesides.com.