EP Author Takes Young Adult Readers On Adventures Of The Imagination

EVERGREEN PARK, IL — While he may not be as well known as J.K. Rowling – yet – Evergreen Park-author Zachary Jeffries has found success tapping into the angst and hopes of young adult readers, who are gobbling up his novels where characters suddenly find themselves with unexplained supernatural powers.

Jeffries will be one of ten authors participating in the first Ever-Read YA Literary Festival, March 16 at the Evergreen Park Public Library. He will be promoting the second novel in his Angels of New York State series, “Witches of Fate.”

“My characters are in high school with a romantic subplot,” Jeffries said, who’s in his forties. “There’s our world and the hidden world of magic that is discovered.”

Find out what's happening in Evergreen Parkwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Combined with children’s literature, young adult, or YA, novels are an $11 billion market, embracing themes of paranormal love triangles, apocalyptic aftermaths, fantasy, horror, thrillers and more. Young readers are drawn to the diverse characters and life experiences in an urban landscape.

“Thematically, young adult literature is about standing out as an individual and learning to be yourself even though you’re part of a social structure of some sort, like a community, town, school, team or family,” Jeffries said.

Find out what's happening in Evergreen Parkwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

The son of an English teacher mother and an entrepreneur father, Jeffries grew up in Conyers, GA, before he married into an Evergreen Park family.

“My family has been big into reading. I always wrote, whether it was assignments for class or writing for fun as an adult,” Jeffries said, who has lost all traces of his Georgia accent after four years of living on the South Side. “I had this idea as a kid mowing lawns in the 1990s and it really stuck with me. I tried writing it as a screenplay, a TV pilot, and a novel.”

In 2016, he turned his lawn mowing ideas into the Hide & Seek Chronicles, a sci-fi adventure series for younger readers written under his nom de plume “Z Jeffries.”

“That was a labor of love,” he said.

Jeffries has self-published eight novels , that come with a raft of content warnings that may trigger emotional or psychological distress. The warnings don’t seem to faze his young fan base, who leave “Z Jeffries” rave reviews about his “funny, brave, smart and strong characters” and “inclusion.”

“Witches of Fate” puts LGBTQ+ teens in the starring roles. Set in real-life Lockport, NY, the town is gripped by a supernatural snowstorm in May.

“It’s a wonderful and interesting place,” Jeffries said of the 19th century industrial town. “It’s a hop, skip and jump Niagara Falls and is built around the Erie Canal. It made it easy to lay out geographically, especially for the witches of fate. All the roads are closed and the only way to save their friends is to walk across the city.”

Click Here: SL Benfica soccer tracksuit

It’s not just kids who are reading YA. Fifty-five percent of young adult readers are over 18. Adults read YA for its accessible, straightforward storytelling or a trip down memory lane.

“Social media has done a lot to popularize reading books. There’s a community on TikTok called ‘BookTok’ and on Instagram, called ‘BooksToGram,’” Jeffries said. “It’s where people talk about what they’re reading and show off their book shelves. Authors are accessible. It’s become a big sharing platform that’s made reading cool.”

Jeffries is currently finishing book five and the finale of the Hide & Seek Chronicles, which is in final revisions; and he’s drafting book three of the Angels of New York State trilogy, which will eventually include a prequel novella. He hopes to increase his output to three books a year under his own imprint – Jeffries Books – which are burning the Amazon bestseller lists. When he’s not writing, he makes the rounds of library fairs and literary festivals, classrooms and comic cons.

“I like writing for young audiences. I feel there is a lot more hope as far as characters go, that you can be open and vulnerable and open to change,” Jeffries said. “You take a teen just forming a worldview. They’re going to learn that not everything is under layers of self-defense and trauma, things just matter so much, hormones, drama, it’s fun to tap into and get some character arcs.”

The Ever-Read YA Literary Festival, hosted by the Evergreen Park Public Library and Evergreen Park Community High School, is the only event of its kind on the South Side. The festival runs from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at EPPL, 9400 S. Troy Ave. The free event is open to teens and adults who read and love young adult literature, including author-led writing workshops and a book-signing session. The first 150 teens, ages 12-18, to register online will receive a free book coupon and a festival swag bag. Register at Ever-Read YA Literary Festival, or contact Mary Black at at 708-422-8522 or Dr. Tina Ward at 708-424-7400.

Get more local news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for free Patch newsletters and alerts.

0 thoughts on “EP Author Takes Young Adult Readers On Adventures Of The Imagination”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *