by Stel Pavlou
When I was 12 or 13 years old, I visited a subterranean salt mine in Germany with my class. The weird geologic formations and strange colors lit a fire in my imagination. I remember there was a lake, and we all had to climb aboard this old wooden boat/floating pontoon contraption which ferried us across the Styxian water in complete silence.
The story of Daniel Coldstar was born that day, a boy trapped in a mine, yearning for freedom and adventure. Though he didn’t have a name yet and it would take many years and many false starts before the book would emerge fully, Daniel Coldstar has now been published, just two weeks shy of my 47th birthday. If life has taught me anything, no matter the obstacles placed in your way, no matter the trials you go through, persistence is worth it.
Never give up on a good idea.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to know what was over the next hill. The appeal of a new vista, a new experience, has always energized me. But by the same token, as someone who thinks deeply on just about everything, mulling through the permutations of consequences have often tempered my more impulsive instincts. Often, but not always.
Don’t be fooled, this wisdom, if you can call it that, has come through experience, not some innate ability to see the future. I’m the kid who tried doing “dangerous tricks” walking along the back of the sofa and banging up his ear spectacularly when he fell off.
I’m the kid who lost two front teeth riding too fast down a hill and a week later landing upside down on his head when he tried to launch his bike off a ramp with a flat tire. I’m the kid who poked jelly fish with a stick at the river’s edge and stole apples from someone’s yard, angry cries and stones whizzing past my ear chasing me back out fast.
I’m the kid who got caught doing a balancing act on a neighbor’s fence and having that same neighbor grab me by the ear and marching me back to my parents demanding I be punished. I’m the kid who would roll under the heavy iron gates of a nearby metal working factory, and run to the guard hut, hit the window and run back out, just to see if I could it without getting spotted.
My parents knew that all of these antics were caused by insatiable curiosity, and that this curiosity had to be channeled. Hence the trip to the mine. And the trip to the middle of the Sahara desert in southern Algeria the year before, and the trip to the Parthenon in Athens the year before that. In future years I would visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem on Christmas Day, I would visit the pyramids of Egypt.
And the thirst for adventure would continue, until as an adult I would voluntarily enlist in the Greek army without being able to speak a word of Greek, rather like Daniel surrounded by kids in the mines speaking Jarabic, a language he too does not understand.
But I’m also the boy who was bullied. Relentlessly. And betrayed by friends because I didn’t see the scheme behind the lie. I’m the kid who was accused of doing things that I didn’t do, by teachers who knew better. I still carry all those scars. They shape me, and serve as warnings, and impart one very valuable lesson.
Never give up on life.
All of these themes shaped the story of Daniel Coldstar, a boy who never gives up, who tries when everything around him urges him to give up. Daniel doesn’t know the answers. He doesn’t even know himself — quite literally, yet he finds his way, journeying through a galaxy filled with danger because of his sense of adventure and his sense of justice. He has an idea of freedom and he never gives up on it. He reminds us all of the value of possibilities.
Life got better for me.
It gets better for Daniel.
Life will get better for you too.
TVWriter™ friend Stel Pavlou is a British author and screenwriter now living in Colorado. He is the author of the bestselling novel Decipher, as well as short stories based on the TV series Doctor Who. Daniel Coldstar: The Relic War is his first book for young readers.