The 12-year-old author prefers to create in spiral-bound notebooks with Crayola crayons and ballpoint pens when he weaves his tales of animated clocks and adventurous holiday mascots. • No computer, no tablet, no electronics. Oh, and the pens should be black, not blue.
The idea for Mr. Tickety-Toc Clock, a sleep-deprived, red twin-bell style alarm, came to sixth-grader Davon Miller during the final minutes of a prolonged school day.
"Nobody's ever written about a living clock before," he thought to himself, watching the second hand tick closer to freedom.
He rushed home and put his ideas on paper.
"In my mind I tell stories," the shy, soft-spoken 12-year-old said. He bases his tales on his favorites, like Madagascar and Shrek.
"Right now, I really like Frozen," Davon said.
Sandra and Dewitt Miller had watched their son immerse himself in stories since he was a toddler. He'd hoard notebooks intended for relatives in Jamaica and fill the pages with characters from his imagination, but even they were impressed by this book, titled Mr. Tickety-Toc Clock: Goodnight Mr. Clock. With some encouragement from a substitute teacher at Bay Point Middle School, they found an editor, Vernard McKenny, and dreamed of seeing their son's work published.
McKenny had never worked with a young author before and said Davon's book was so long he had to convince the reluctant then-11-year-old to divide the story line into three books. Clock Worker David and Travel to Washington will come next, McKenny said.
"He can have at least four to five more sequels just based off the first draft," McKenny said. "His thought process and the story line is really great."
Once the edits were made, the Millers decided to print the book through an online publisher, Create Space. About a week later, a package arrived on the front steps of their pale yellow one-story home in St. Petersburg. Inside were 150 copies of the 26-page book.
Davon wasn't fazed, his parents said. He finished his after-school bowl of cereal (it's usually Cinnamon Toast Crunch), before retrieving a shiny copy.
It's a little bit embarrassing, Davon says, when his parents dote on his accomplishments or adults from church congratulate him. But he likes the attention, too, especially when friends from school ask to see his drawings.
Once, a classmate said Davon inspired her to create her own stories.
Vickie Olson, his sixth-grade advanced reading teacher, said she didn't even know Davon was publishing his book until his mother told her.
"He was very humble," Olson said. "It was kind of almost like it was not big deal, like it was just something he does."
Davon is an honors student, has never missed a spelling word, and often wakes up hours before school starts to practice his trumpet, much to his father's dismay. While other kids "talk and play around" during free time at school, he said, he's often drawing or writing.
When he grows up, he wants to be an author and an actor.
"He's definitely one who will do what he sets his mind to," Olson said.
His bedroom at home is his studio — "Picture Novels Studios," he has dubbed it. On the walls are lists for book ideas and under his desk are boxes filled with his favorite novels and drafts of stories he has written.
Davon has done two book signings — one at the South Branch Library and a second at his church. Paperback copies are for sale on Amazon for $8.95. His parents said he has sold at least 100 books so far.
The royalties, his father said, will go toward Davon's college fund.
"I'm just so proud of him," his mother, Sandra, said. "Davon is just a blessing from God."
Contact Katie Mettler at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kemettler.