Perrysburg man puts bedtime tales for his children into tween novel
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 13 July 2013 07:44
PERRYSBURG - Tom Waggoner got a lot of family support and encouragement while writing his novel for tweens, "Danger in the Hills."
|Author Tom Waggoner is seen with his book "Danger in the Hills" in the den of his residence in Perrysburg. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
His wife and three children had clamored for years for him to record the bedtime stories Waggoner had spun from his childhood on the family farm. But perhaps his mother-in-law, Jane Titer, who is 85, was the clincher.
A couple of years ago, she took her son-in-law aside and said, "Are you going to get this done before I'm dead?"
Waggoner, dryly chuckling at the memory, said, "I really buckled down and finished the book."
"Danger in the Hills," a story about a thoughtful groundhog whose family means more to him than anything in the world, will be released by Tate Publishing and Enterprises LLC later this month. It can be preordered on Amazon.com and through Barnes and Noble.
"This is a labor of love. That's the best way to describe it," said Waggoner of the writing and publishing process.
Daughter Alexis can't wait to share "Danger in the Hills" with her two children, newborn Brecken and 2-year-old Kellen. She remembered when her dad's job would keep him away some nights during her childhood. She and her brothers, Ryan and Mark, would plug in a tape-recorded version of some of the animal stories that he had created.
Her favorite characters were otters Otto and Aurora, who weren't in every story.
"It's like when you're a little kid and you have a favorite TV show, but your favorite character wasn't in every one (episode)," Alexis said.
Waggoner grew up on a farm near Findlay where a menagerie of critters was always around: raccoons, cats, dogs, tadpoles, salamanders and even two skunks, affectionately named Chubby and Elizabeth.
"That kind of grew into Ernie and Petunia, the two parents in the book. We told all these stories of their trials and tribulations," he said of "Danger in the Hills."
Waggoner said the book's best audience is probably fourth-graders through junior-high students.
"I would describe it as an adventure story."
At home in Perrysburg near the river, the tables and walls in the family office are lined with family photos. But the most eye-catching feature is the floor to ceiling shelves stuffed with books, mostly made up of popular fiction, such as James Patterson, Janet Evanovich and Patricia Cornwell.
"My favorite read this year was the Winston Churchill 'Last Lion' trilogy," Waggoner said.
Reading and stories have always been a big part of the family's life. When Waggoner and his wife of 35 years, Melanie, retire for the evening, they switch on the two little lights above the bed and plow into the latest bestseller.
"We're just kind of a reading family."
When Waggoner wasn't playing with the wildlife as a child, his nose was in a book. His favorites include "Wind in the Willows," "Watership Down" - and a dog-eared copy of "Bubo the Great-Horned Owl," which he found in the Van Buren Elementary library. The story was told through the eyes of the owl and Waggoner couldn't read it enough. Strangely, with all of today's technology and search engines, he said he hasn't been able to find the "Bubo" book anywhere.
At Bowling Green State University, where he studied to become a teacher, Waggoner took to heart the "magnificent" advice given by a professor in a children's literature class.
"She told us early on, don't be foolish about what you read" and "Unless you want to really write a book, don't do it. It's very difficult. It's a lot of work to do well."
After getting his bachelor's degree, Waggoner taught for a couple years, but decided to change careers. He is now president of turf and specialty group at the Anderson's, Maumee. He's been with the company for 27 years.
He had one signing for "Danger in the Hills" last month at Perrysburg's My Daily Grind shop and hopes to do more in the area.