Smitten by the writing bug

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A Wanaka businessman who turned his hand to writing has been “humbled” by the positive comments he has received for his first novel.

Dream Doors chief executive Derek Lilly self-published Invasion AI through Amazon in May. He described the book as a blend of science fiction and “faction”, because he referenced a range of factual events in the story line.

But he admits that writing a novel was never really in his sights.

“I used to write songs when I was younger.

“I never thought I would write a novel.”

The book was inspired by a supernatural encounter witnessed by his daughter, Gina, and son TJ, which he described as an “orange ball of light going over the Pisa Range”.

He ruled out a meteorite and aeroplane, but to this day the object has remained unexplained.

That was about seven years ago, but the novel did not take shape until last year.

A friend suggested Mr Lilly write a book on franchising, and so he sat down to write last October. After three days, he had churned out the first four chapters of a science fiction novel instead.

He said the first third of the book worked to introduce characters and tie in various factual events, while the second third began to wind up the storyline to get the reader fully immersed.

The final third was a “complete roller-coaster”, he said.

After he got his head around the crux of the story, the rest of the novel came to him while he was writing, he said.

The characters were fictitious, although he used local Wanaka names and locations. Readers seemed to enjoy the local connection, and he had been stopped in the street by people he had never met who wanted to congratulate him on his story.

Publishing the novel was a year-long process, which involved large amounts of research, fact-checking, and editing, along with the actual writing.

He said his inexperience meant there was no pressure to succeed, and his book was primarily written for himself.

“Because I was so naive about writing books, I just sat down with a blank sheet.

“Where do you go to school to learn how to write a book?”

Forming the story and transporting his thoughts on to paper was a “wonderful experience”, but the most rewarding part of the process was receiving positive feedback from the community, he said.

“It’s not meant to change the world, it’s meant to entertain them .. and I believe I’ve been able to do that.

“I think I’ve found another passion in my life.”

Invasion AI is available through Amazon and is stocked at Paper Plus Wanaka. To find out more, visit www.invasionai.com.