13-year-old Hays native publishes first book. A book signing will take place June 14.
Mattias Labriel, a 13-year-old Hays native, hasn't always been interested in reading or writing books.
But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Labriel, who now lives in Quito, Ecuador, found he had free time on his hands after finishing up his school work for the day.
"So then I just wanted to start writing a book," Labriel said.
His first published book, "Xylion: The Dark Lord," is now available to the public via Amazon and Kindle.
Labriel will host a meet the author and book signing event 6-7 p.m. June 14 at the Hays Public Library, 1205 Main St.
The book tells the story of Xylion and his two friends who travel to the Land of Oxa to stop a dark lord who is attempting to take the kingdom's elements.
Labriel came up with the book's plot while working on school assignments. His teacher instructed the class to create a mythical creature.
"I also asked her if I could do a person instead of a creature so that's how Xylion became this fiction person," Labriel said.
It took Labriel about four months to write the book and it was self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing.
Sarah Labriel, Mattias' mom, said Kindle's publishing service made the process much easier.
"We have that opportunity to make their dreams come true and we're not putting thousands of dollars on the line to do it," Sarah Labriel said.
One of the biggest challenges Labriel faced while writing the book was the editing process but Andy Stanton, an editor in Hays, helped out on that front.
With less money going toward the publishing process, Sarah Labriel was able to bring Stanton on board. Mattias Labriel's experience working with an editor was also educational for him.
"He did Zoom with the editor once a week as part of school in my mind," Sarah Labriel said. "Technology made it super easy for me to make his dreams come true and just continue to encourage him in that whole process."
The next two books in the series are already written with the second currently going through the editing process.
Sarah Labriel said she found it difficult during the pandemic to limit her kids' screen time.
Once Mattias Labriel expressed an interest in writing a book, it was a way for him to effectively use his screen time instead of playing video games or watching Youtube videos.
"I read (the book) and I was just really blown away that that's what he came up with," Sarah Labriel said. "He's so creative and the dialogue is so funny in some places. I was like, 'Wow, this is my son.'"