Paly English teacher to publish novel

Callie Walker and Paige Esterly

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Sharp worked with a team of designers to make “After Dakota” ready to hit the shelves. The novel is set to be released the week of Dec. 10th. [Photo credit: Kevin Sharp]

A Palo Alto High School English teacher is publishing his first novel, “After Dakota,” the week of Dec. 10.

Past Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Competition winner Kevin Sharp, who teaches Film Composition, Humanities and Writer’s Craft, has been working on his novel since the summer of 2011.

“I had written a version of it [“After Dakota”] as a screenplay in the past, and it almost got made but it didn’t and I wasn’t willing to let go of the story,” Sharp said.

The story chronicles a year in the lives of three teenagers in the 1980s, and was inspired by the John Hughes movies Sharp used to enjoy when he was a teenager.

“When I was growing up we had really good teen movies and it seems like at some point teen movies all turned into something like Disney’s ‘Prom’,” he said. “I kind of missed the ones that we used to have, like ‘The Breakfast Club’.”

Sharp, however, encountered some difficulty finding a publisher for his novel.

“When I was talking to publishers about this book, I heard over and over again that this was going to be a really hard book to sell because all teenagers want to read is stuff like ‘Twilight’ or ‘The Hunger Games’,” he said. “I think there’s a market for all kinds of stories.”

Sharp, who promised himself he’d have “After Dakota” published by the end of 2012, ran out of patience with professional publishers, and decided to publish the book himself.

“The trick is to put out a book that doesn’t look like it was self-published,” he said.

When asked if he will ever write a sequel to his novel, Sharp shook his head.

“I’m working on something else next.”