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Thamesford pastor creates trilogy of novels as a legacy for his sons

By Morgan Lobzun

THAMESFORD - 

When illness struck father and pastor Shawn Robinson, he turned his recovery process into an environment of adventure and humour, instead of just hospital visits and medicine.

It started out as a pain in Robinson’s eye that turned out to be a bad case of shingles - so bad that the next day it caused him to suffer a seizure. He was admitted into urgent care and diagnosed with encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain caused by the shingles virus that attacked his spine.

“I wondered if I would live,” said Robinson. “It’s one of those situations where I wrestled with my own mortality.”

He began to think about his sons Liam, 14 and Ezra, 9. Because he was uncertain of the outcome of his illness, Robinson wanted to give them something. So, he began to write them a bedtime story similar - to the ones he would make up in his head for them when they were little. But this time on paper.

“I wasn’t sure if I would get to read it to them,” he said.

Two hundred pages later, main character Liam, an ordinary 13-year-old boy facing bullies, school and home life suddenly gets sucked into a toilet to another world called Arestana. Once in Arestana, he meets a boy named Ezra and a mysterious third companion to help him on his journey filled with monsters, castles, dragons, fortresses and an army of squirrels.

“Because I wasn’t writing it for a large audience, I didn’t really hold back on the humour and oddness,” said Robinson. “I know what would make my boys laugh and what they would enjoy.”

The novel was an instant success with his wife Juanita and their sons, who were the inspiration for the stories main characters.

He started sharing it with family and friends and was encouraged that it was good and that he should publish it. Unlike many published books, Shawn’s editors were his wife’s mother, who was a librarian, his own mother, and American editor Deborah Bowman. As well, Robinson sat down with local children and read the book together for their opinions.

“The kids caught a lot of the mistakes that I couldn’t. They would say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t make sense,’ and they were right,” he said.

The official release date for the pre-teen novel Arestana I: The Key Quest was April 2, and since then 80 copies have sold. The novel has charted number one in children’s humour and number nine in adventure, after all seven Harry Potter books and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Amazon.ca.

The second book, Arestana II: The Defense Quest was released June 4, and on Nov. 5, Arestana III: The Harry Quest will be on market.

Robinson doesn’t see an end to his writing, and has already created a spin-off about an inventor squirrel named Jerry. Once finished his Jerry the Squirrel adventures, Robinson intends to create a prequel for all adventures in the world of Arestana.

As for his health and journey to recovery, it is still a long road ahead.

“At this point, it’s left me with little energy and small pockets of time when I can get things done, but I’m learning through it all just to rest, trust God and be loved by the people around me.”

The novels are available on Amazon for Kindle and in hard copy and the Thamesford and Ingersoll libraries carry copies for signing out.