SALT LAKE CITY — Like a lot of writers, Utah author Clark Burbidge mines his own life for his work. But for his young adult fantasy series, "StarPassage," he looked back a little farther, to the life of his father.
The third book, "Star Passage: Book 3 — Honor and Mercy" (Deep River Books, 320 pages, ages 10-14), came out last June and includes characters Tim and Martie, who in the first book have a parent who struggles with PTSD. Burbidge's own father suffered from PTSD after serving in the Korean War.
"I grew up through my teenage years in the shadow of those demons in his life," he said. "I love my dad dearly but sorrowed for him on a regular basis because he was struggling. Then he overcame (his demons) and I saw for myself the courage it takes to face that, but how if you do that you become better than you ever were."
In his newest "StarPassage" book, Burbidge introduces the character Ronnie Chen, who believes his life is over after suffering an injury from a terrible accident. With the help from characters from the previous two books, Ronnie is able to see how he can overcome obstacles in life instead of deciding to give up.
Burbidge, who currently resides in Woods Cross, wants the young people who read his books to come away knowing they can face whatever happens to them.
"It doesn't matter if it's your parents getting divorced or losing their jobs … or whether it's some physical illness or injury — it all can dramatically change your life," Burbidge said. "I think there's a path through that where you can use those, as I call them, 'monsters' the way heroes use them in literature as tools to find their greatness."
Burbidge is no stranger to challenges. Fourteen years ago, Burbidge and his then-new wife undertook the difficulty of blending her five children and his five children into one big family. Now, they just finished writing a book together about the principles they've learned from that experience.
Burbidge first came to writing between jobs in his career as an investment banker. Burned out from networking, he decided to put to paper some of the stories he had in his head. A year later, he published some of his books, by then balancing working full time while writing seven to eight hours a day.
In 2015, he decided make the switch to solely writing books for a living, which he calls "the most fun and hardest job I have ever had." He said what he loves most about his work is seeing the impact it has on his readers, especially young people.
Often, Burbidge will visit schools and write a book together with the children, so they can know what that's like.
"I want them to have the experience of working hard to achieve something that exceeds their expectations and expands their vision," he said.
He said it's magical to see the books he's written on the shelves, and he thinks every child deserves to know what it's like to to feel proud of something they've done.
Burbidge has written one other fantasy series for children, "Giants in the Land," as well as a nonfiction book about mountain biking. Several of his books have won the Gold Medal in the Mom's Choice Awards, which select several dozen products a year, including books, to help parents know what to purchase for their children. Burbidge said he is proud of this award because he wants his books to promote family values.
"It isn't enough just to be good literature," he said. "I wanted to be able to have the literature help young people move from where they are to some place better."