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  • Sage Lamott, Staff Writer

Willamette librarian whimsically crafts a new world in recently published YA novel

John Repplinger and his novel. Photo by Caramia Christensen

Uncover the mysteries of the blue mist and delve into a literary world created by one of Willamette’s own. Willamette librarian and new author John Repplinger released his debut young adult novel, available for pickup outside of his office. Following the intrigue of a magical blue mist and the journey of a brave young heroine, the novel, “Amara and the Giant's Ring: The Blue Mist,” explores themes of maturity, finding one’s place in society and self-acceptance. 

Repplinger’s WordPress summarizes the novel, detailing the story of a young girl named Amara struggling to discover herself. Along her journey she discovers a bracelet containing blue mist capable of taking on a variety of shapes. She discovers that the bracelet was passed through decades of renowned warriors, craftsmen and skilled hunters. Exploring themes typical to that of coming-of-age media, Amara must uncover the secrets of the bracelet while exploring her own independence. Repplinger detailed that the story vaguely came to him in the form of a recurring dream. He found inspiration from the dream’s imagery: “The blue mist kept reappearing and I thought to myself, maybe I should do something with that!” The novel is directly related to “growing up and changing,” following the classic themes of young adult literature but through a “fantastical” lens.  

Despite this being his debut piece, Repplinger finds a sort of whimsy in the act of writing, crafting worlds and introducing characters. He shared how he created the cover art for the work utilizing an AI system and editing minute descriptors to get the specific image he wanted. “The process took a long time.”

Self-publishing the work allowed Repplinger to control the creative processes and outlook of his novel. He noted that going through publishers can take many years, and being a librarian, he has had exposure to how that process works. He hopes to inspire students to “write and pursue their goals, academic or personal,” and recounted that he “wanted to go through the process and serve as a model for students to understand how the self-publishing system works.” Additionally, Repplinger looks forward to the potential of working with Willamette students within the realm of editing and continuing to review his work. 

Repplinger thanked the support of his Willamette community for his success in publishing his novel. Having served as the Hatfield Library science librarian since 2002, he has watched the community grow and adapt. Being a librarian, he “spends a lot of time around books,” which he notes has allowed him to explore works similar to his. He added in the acknowledgments of his book the names of the library circulation staff due to their help with editing and reviewing the piece. “The piece went through a decent amount of testing and editing,” he noted. He added that he gained insight from students in the age demographic the novel is aimed towards, gauging different reactions to specific moments or tidbits.

Through Repplinger’s writing, he aims to continue a family tradition of storytelling. Telling a heartfelt family story, Repplinger shared that his grandfather was “known for his storytelling,” and that, as a child, Repplinger himself would “tell his siblings stories in exchange for them doing his chores.” As a writer, he views the larger concept of storytelling as “piecing the little things you think of into something larger.” 

Looking toward the future, Repplinger aims to write and publish more stories, forming a series that follows the journey of the main characters of “Amara and the Giant's Ring: The Blue Mist” towards adulthood. Combining experience within the industry as well as a passion for his work, Repplinger hopes to delve more into the science fiction realm in addition to the fantasy realm, utilizing his knowledge to expand universes and plotlines. 

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