Completing his first fiction book, Dave Polsz
has turned self-doubt intoself-fulfillment.

By Fred Durso Jr., Review Contributor

     Amid the many milestones in his life, Dave Polsz has fervently attempted to reach one more: Pen a fantasy novel. He would have never guessed it would take 10 years to achieve.

     Then again, the old Polsz would have never thought such a feat was possible.

     “I didn’t have the confidence to say, ‘This is something that other people might like,’” the resident of 67th Street and Buist Avenue said.

     Evidently, he was wrong. Not only did Polsz complete his first book - “Whisperers of Lore - Dack’s Way” - in 2005 with much praise from family and friends, but received the astonishing news two years later a publishing company is taking it nationwide this May.

     While meticulously detailing the characters and places on the fictitious island of Storality, the newbie author has defined his own sense of self here on earth.

     “The hardest thing about writing is you can’t take yourself 100 percent out of it,” the 40-year old said. “Your opinions, your feelings are in there, whether you like it or not.”

     Having a technical - not literary - background, it was only natural Polsz’s book idea was spurred by playing video games inside Drexel University’s computer lab in the 1990s. He was a fan of multiuser dungeons (also known as MUDs), a text-driven game where players create characters, settings and scenarios minus the eye-appealing graphics.

     While the former gamer admits this entertainment pales in comparison to today’s otherworldly graphics games, it had its strengths.

     “Back then, it was very cool,” he said of MUDs. “You had to be a really good writer to make these worlds come alive because all you had was [words].”

     Admitting he was one of those “geeky, nerdy kids playing in computer terminals,” Polsz began concocting characters - one of which he dubbed TheTerm (named after Drexel’s schooling cycle), an older, cloaked fellow wise beyond his years.

     “When you talk to individual people in the game, you can pretend [to be] who you wanted to be,” he said. “Because of the characters I created, I was trying to make myself sound much better than I actually was.”

     Opting to forego learning all the coding needed to obtain a computer science degree, Polsz switched gears and majored in literature. He thought his online creations might be useful in other outlets. So in ‘95, after the birth of son Darren, Polsz decided to maximize his degree and outline a three-book trilogy starring some of his characters, including TheTerm.

     He envisioned the fictitious island of Storality, where a war broke out 20 years before the first novel begins. Kings ruled five sections of the island and Lucan, a resident possessed with power, murdered each one. Though the war ended and Lucan was stopped, the island’s inhabitants became divided. Dack, the book’s main character, has agreed to help the families of the deceased kings bring structure back. But before that occurs, Dack learns trusting others - and himself - is not an easy task.

     In ‘95, the author submitted an outline and the first three chapters to a publisher; they sent him a rejection letter within a week.

     “If they would have said ‘yes’ to me, I don’t think I would be able to finish the book in a timely manner,” Polsz said. “I don’t think at that time I was ready to write a book. I had to go through a lot of stuff in order to feel confident to do it.”

     Discouraged, he didn’t give his novel another thought for two years, at which time daughter Deanna was born. He completed another two chapters and, again, put it away. Polsz finally realized his pet project needed completion. Coworkers who read his first few chapters commented on the story’s allure and craved more.

     “They were holding me accountable,” Polsz said. “It was frustrating and exhilarating at the same time.”

     Still unsure he could complete this task, he told wife Dottie he was going to Wildwood, N.J., for a few days in the fall to gather his thoughts. The ghost town was just the head-clearing Polsz needed. He began penning a chapter a day, a turning point in his writing process.

     “It’s almost like there was a movie in my head,” he said. “I could see the situation happening and I could hear the dialogue. I had all this stuff in my head and I just sat down and got it all out.”

     In ‘05, the novel was completed, but Polsz still was scared to make the news public, especially to his family. “I sort of wanted them to read it, but didn’t push them to do it because I didn’t want to hear, ‘This really isn’t good.’”

     However, many reviews from confidants were glowing. Giving him just the boost he needed, Polsz submitted the finished product to Oklahoma-based Tate Publishing in ‘07. About three weeks later, he received an e-mail stating the company wanted to offer him a contract.

     “I was at work at the time so I had to contain myself,” he said with a laugh.

     Through this experience, Polsz realized the subjective nature of writing, considering his father “couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs. My book isn’t going to be liked by every single person. That’s something that I have to realize. I’m giving my best effort. I’m very optimistic that it’ll do well, but I’m being realistic enough that if people don’t like it, I’m not going to cry in my bedroom.”

     Polsz is working on the second book in his trilogy - this time setting deadlines for himself but writing in a less-structured manner. He still flexes his technical muscle, working as an MIS specialist for Fernley & Fernley, a Center City-based trade association management company.

     He plans to finish the next novel by April, at which point the author will ask Tate if they can keep his dream going. Whether or not the book gets green-lighted, Polsz - a father, husband and son - now has one more title he can throw into the mix: author.

     “Now realizing I can do this, [the book deal] has definitely boosted my confidence level,” he said.

Reprinted with permission.

Living the fantasy

After a decade-long process,
Dave Polsz has penned - and sold - his first
sci-fi work of what he hopes is a trilogy.

Photo by Samantha Munsch

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