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Local author launches new book

Pictured (L-R) John Smith is joined by his wife, Connie, model Matthew Ketchum, his daughter Madison, and model Michael Loy at the book launch party held at Hoge’s Restaurant on August 16. (Submitted photo)

Local, award-winning author and film producer, John Smith (J.W. Kitson), has launched another novel based on an idea inspired by a childhood location he used to frequent with his family in Highlandtown, Ohio. “My parents” Smith recalled, “had special friends, whom we considered family, and we used to have many get-togethers, and part of that included picnics at their small lake.”

After taking his daughter to a volleyball clinic at Southern Local (about five years ago), he visited one of these friends still living in that area. Before leaving, he took photos of the property. “When I downloaded the photos that evening, a story began to form in my mind,” Smith stated. “The lake, the mysterious barn, the old farmhouse, and the cemetery located near the property, simply intrigued me, and even though horror novels are not the genre I normally write, I wanted to create something using the property I loved as a child. Of course, the property is not haunted.” Two months later, People from the Lake was completed.

The new story took a backseat to his first novel, Song of the Tree Frogs, which was selected in 2017 by a publisher in New York. After several years, Smith passed along his latest manuscript to his agent, Lara Helmling, in Chicago. “She loved it, and so People from the Lake was, I guess I could say, resurrected,” Smith said. “After all, it involves corpses rising from a lake.” All his works are first given to his colleague, Brooke Harman, an English teacher at ELHS. “Brooke is my local go-to expert before I pass anything along to my publishing editor. She’s a great friend and teacher.”

The novel tells of Adrian and Teresa Douglas, a couple who believes they have the perfect life…until they move their family into a home with a sinister past. The home is at the center of a supernatural war waging against the world of the living. An army of tortured souls are determined to abduct the five Douglas children and claim them as their own. Accidents, unexplained illnesses, and malevolent creatures roam the property, and Adrian and Teresa must protect their family from the rotting corpses known as the people from the lake. “I wrote the novel for fun; it is not some declaration of personal beliefs, nor is it intended to be taken too seriously,” Smith mentioned. “It’s just a story I challenged myself to write.”

For this novel, he also chose to stay with two local models for the cover, which was created by the award-winning director and photographer, Josh Menning. The cover was eventually approved for publication. “Matthew Ketchum and Michael Loy, I’m proud to say, are graduates of East Liverpool High School, my alma mater. Jimmy Joe Savage did the photoshoot, and the boys brought the first chapter of the novel to life, which Jimmy Joe and Josh captured perfectly for the cover. I’m honored to have Matthew and Michael as a part of the book.” The novel can be purchased through his website (www.jwkitson.com), as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Smith’s award-winning novel, Song of the Tree Frogs, is also scheduled for filming this coming fall. “I am so honored that Menning Films has chosen to do this project, and we are both honored to have many talented SAG actors from all over the country coming to our city for the filming. There will also be some exceptional local talent involved in the movie as well,” Smith stated. Updates can be located on the Facebook page “Song of the Tree Frogs.”

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