How an Aspiring Author Caught a Break — Two of Them, Actually



Day school teacher Adam Kellert used some forced downtime to pen his first novel, The Black Gem.

Adam Kellert had been an avid reader of fantasy fiction for years. And when a waterskiing accident in July 2009 left him on the couch with his two legs in casts, he started writing it.

The Franklin resident and teacher at Hillel Day School self-published his first book, The Black Gem: Part One of the Elemental Series, through book publishing service Xlibris earlier this year, and it became available online in March. It also can be found on, and in ebook form.

“I think my favorite thing was when I typed my name into Google and my book came up right away,” said Kellert, 31. “I thought that was the coolest thing ever. It was real; it wasn’t just some silly book that I was writing in my free time when I broke my ankles.”

Fantasy fiction is a genre he was first introduced to by his father, Kellert said. He took inspiration from his two favorite authors, R.A. Salvatore and Ed Greenwood, for his own work. “They really bring out the characters; they make you relate to them in one way or another,” he said.

Following their lead, Kellert worked to give his readers as much detail as possible.

The new author penned The Black Gem, as well as a second not-yet-published novel, by hand. Unable to go up and down stairs easily given his injuries, he was able to remain focused, he said, filling a stack of wide-ruled notebooks over the course of months.

Kellert said what started as an idea for a short story turned into hundreds of pages, which he hopes will emerge into a compelling series for readers 10 and up. “It was like watching a movie in my head; it just sort of flowed out onto the paper,” he said of the process. “I really just wanted to see how the story was going to unfold.”

Born and raised in Farmington Hills, Kellert attended North Farmington and West Bloomfield high schools before attending Wayne State University, where he graduated in 2005 with a degree in philosophy. He went on to receive a master’s in Near Eastern Studies from WSU then started substitute teaching at Hillel Day School.

Despite his accident, he went back to work in fall 2009, using every spare minute to write “as much as I could,” he said.

Kellert’s childhood buddy, Michael Stein, 30, remembers a young Kellert tearing through boxes of fantasy fiction books for years as a reader and says he’s been impressed by his friend’s enthusiasm for the genre and his determination to complete The Black Gem project. “It just showed me that when he puts his mind to something, he’s capable of achieving anything. He’s a very intelligent guy,” said Stein.

The Black Gem focuses on a character named Tristan who, as adopted son of a king with magical powers, confronts adversity because of his position and said powers. (It must be hard to forgo magical powers in fantasy fiction.)

Kellert says that readers will follow the protagonist as he faces the trials and tribulations of growing up, in what the author calls a kind of “cross between” the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series.

Creating the book’s heroes and villains was a main focus for Kellert. He says he believes people will most connect to the book through its characters.

“I really just want readers to enjoy the book and enjoy the characters, to have a connection with the characters and enjoy the world of fantasy that I created for them.”
Now working full time at Hillel’s kindergarten, Kellert says it’s harder to find time for writing, but he is looking forward to hearing audience response and hoping his novel will take off and push him to finish the series’ third volume.

“I’m hoping there’s enough buzz that the second book gets picked up by a major publishing company. That would be optimal,” he said.  RT

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