Ken Ramirez switches audiences |

Ken Ramirez switches audiences

Ken Ramirez, a biology teacher and swimming, water polo and alpine skiing coach at Nevada Union High School, spends most of his working hours talking to teenage audiences.

Tonight, he’ll gladly spend at least another hour at Odyssey Books before an audience of all ages as he reads excerpts from Book I (“The Gift of the Ancient Grove” ) and Book II (“Beyond the Red Mountains”) from his “Naida’s Quest Trilogy.” Naida is a young troll who takes an extraordinary quest with her best friend and pet lynx.

“I love to do voices, and the books are mainly dialogue. Even though the target audience was 9- to 14-year-olds, it appears that kids of all ages are finding the trilogy loads of fun,” Ramirez said last weekend.

He penned the books for his daughters, now 9 and 13.

“The books were written simply because one of my daughters, seven years ago, asked me to write her a story about gnomes,” Ramirez said. “According to her, ‘there just aren’t any good gnomes stories!'”

So for five years, Ramirez wrote almost daily between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. He based the characters on his students and a few Nevada County adults.

Book I was published recently, Book II will be out by spring, and the third book will be published by the following spring.

“From the moment I finished the manuscript, there has been a wide array of our community members editing, illustrating, reading to classes full of kids, hooking me up with agents and pushing me to get this story out there,” Ramirez said. “I feel as though ‘Naida’s Quest’ is a story that belongs to the community at large.”

The science teacher turned author is now enjoying the consequences of having his story in print.

“I have no aspirations of being the next ‘anybody,’ but it is a hoot to have local kids approach me and tell me all about their imagination regarding Naida and her world of fairies,” Ramirez said. “I have been recently informed that there will be several county youths dressing up as ‘Naida’s Quest’ characters for Halloween. Now that’s exciting. I have also been asked to be a guest speaker in the fall of 2005 in Sand Point, Idaho, for the World Wide Gnome Association, which has made me an honorary, card-carrying member because of the book.”

Tonight’s free discussion is at 7. Refreshments will be served.

Odyssey Books is at 989 Sutton Way in Grass Valley. Call 477-2856 for any questions.

– Carol Feineman

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