TAMPA — A lot of kids like to do things like their dads, and 11-year-old Connor Wilson is no exception.
When he saw his father working on his novel one day about a year ago, he decided he wanted to write a book, too.
Jeff Wilson, a science fiction writer from New Tampa, told his son he would send the book out and help get it published. All Connor had to do was come up with an idea and write the story.
Three months later, Connor had it finished.
"It was in one of those loose-leaf spiral notebooks and he had written in pencil, just page after page," Wilson said. "And the story was just adorable. I was so impressed."
A few weeks after that, Wilson sent out some copies of the manuscript and Connor scored a contract with Chicago-based Magic Dreams Publishing.
Connor's 45-page, illustrated book, A Giant Pencil, will officially be released Saturday, just five days before his 12th birthday. The publisher says Connor is its youngest author.
"It feels awesome," Connor said.
A Giant Pencil is a story about a boy always picked on at school. One day, he finds a giant, magic pencil that he can use to erase the people who bully and otherwise bother him. Eventually, he erases everyone he cares about, realizes he made a terrible mistake and tries to draw them all back.
"I was just sitting around one day and the story just came to me," Connor said.
After getting the book deal, Connor had to undergo the months-long editing process with the publisher. With his dad's help, he trimmed the book by about half and got rid of the typos.
"That was my least favorite part of all," he said.
And while he's excited about his book signing this weekend at the Glazer Children's Museum's Back to School Fair, he's a bit nervous about reading sections of his book to the crowd.
His friends and teachers from Bayshore Christian School will be there.
"Now all my friends want to attempt to write a book, too," Connor said.
Connor loves reading and writing, so long as it isn't for a school assignment.
"I don't like doing it when I have to do it," he said.
His favorite books are the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he knows he'll always be a writer.
He has two more book ideas that he's slowly starting to outline. He'll probably start working in earnest when school starts back later this month.
His contract with the publisher allows him to write a book a year, Wilson said, and eventually, A Giant Pencil will be available as an e-book.
Connor will be able to pocket some of the money he makes off the book, but most of it will be put in a trust fund he can access when he's older, Wilson said.
"He did something really cool and he worked really hard, so I think he should see some instant reward from it, but we also need to learn responsibility," he said.
Connor said his dad is probably more excited about his book than he is, but not by much.
"I was really impressed by how he stuck with it," Wilson said. "And the story, to watch him come up with something so creative … I'm just really proud of him."