Dusk Weaver of Alto was on track to finish his children’s book, “Bill Willy the Wild … Who Isn’t a Boy at All!,” but then tragedy struck.
Klaus Ernst, the book’s illustrator went into a diabetic coma and died several years ago, just four weeks shy of finishing his 30 pages of artwork, Weaver said.
“I loved this man, I called him my brother,” he said. “I put him and “Bill Willy” to rest. I thought that’s the end of that. This was my illustrator.”
Weaver said he stored his book in a desk drawer and years passed.
Book signing with local children’s author
What: Meet Dusk Weaver, author of the new children’s book, “Bill Willy the Wild … Who Isn’t a Boy at All!”
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19
Where: The Next Chapter Bookstore in Main Street Market, 118 Main St., Gainesville
The story didn’t see the light of day until around 2017, when a new illustrator, Oliver Carr, decided to take up the torch. Instead of matching Ernst’s style and continuing his work, Weaver said Carr, who he describes as “family,” produced 36 pages of new illustrations.
“When he was out at art college, I was like maybe this is fate speaking,” Weaver said. “Maybe he should reillustrate the book, and that’s what happened.”
“Bill Willy the Wild … Who Isn’t a Boy at All!” was published by Waterside Productions, which is based in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, on Sept. 28, 2020. This is the second published book Weaver has written.
The 74-page story is set between the night of Christmas and New Year’s Eve in the fictional land of Conflagratia. It follows the adventures of Bill Willy the Wild, the book’s rebellious protagonist who Weaver said “isn’t a boy at all.”
A few pages into the book, readers will discover Bill Willy’s surprising origins.
“He’s a Huck Finn type, you can’t help but to identify with him,” Weaver said. “Whatever little rebellious devil that lives inside each of us kind of relates to him. You don’t necessarily want to emulate him.”
Weaver said the book embraces old-fashioned holiday ideals, including the Golden Rule, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
“That’s the kind of tale it is,” he said. “It harks back to our warmer and sweeter times of looking at the holidays.”
From age 8 to 18, Weaver said he lived in Thornwell Orphanage in South Carolina. His parents were both alive and separated at the time, but unable to take care of him. Weaver said his perspective living in an orphanage affected the book’s themes.
“I know that has a big mark on my life,” he said. “There were 350 of us kids there at any given time. I came to greatly value community and family ties, and young people’s entertainment.”
In addition to a fanciful story, Weaver’s book offers an educational experience with carefully embedded advanced vocabulary for kids. Through the context and humor, he said the children will be able to figure out the meaning of the words they’re identifying.
Weaver is no stranger to conjuring rich prose, having spent a large portion of his life copy editing and ghostwriting books. He’s played a role in 15 publications, and has attended and been involved with the Santa Barbara Writers Conference for the past 40 years. He currently serves as one of the conference’s manuscript consultants.
Weaver also devotes his time toward music, whether that includes recording and writing his own songs, or teaching guitar lessons to kids through Blue Ridge Junior Appalachian Musicians.
Those wanting to meet the eclectic musician and author of, “Bill Willy the Wild … Who Isn’t a Boy at All!,” can pop over to Weaver’s book signing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19, at The Next Chapter Bookstore, a nonprofit inside Main Street Market. Weaver said he will donate a portion of his book sales to the organization’s cause of assisting and inspiring those with disabilities to reach their full potential for independence.
He encourages people to pick up his book and dive into the adventures of Bill Willy the Wild.
“I hope they have wide grins of joy and happiness at the colorful story,” Weaver said. “And then I hope that they will reflect upon the things that transpire in this story and how it might work into their own lives.”
For more information about Weaver and his written works, visit duskweaver.com.