SAU senior publishes first novel

Prior published "Skyfire" five years after writing and editing it. Submitted/The Buzz.
Prior published “Skyfire” five years after writing and editing it. Submitted/The Buzz.

Completing and publishing a book is a dream that many writers never achieve. Yet for one Ambrosian, this dream has slowly morphed itself into reality.

Tom Prior, a senior from Bloomington, Ill., and editor-in-chief of The Buzz. always wanted to be a published author but never thought the day would come when a book jacket would read his name. But after years of work and planning, Prior has self-published his first novel, “Skyfire.”

“I always loved writing, but I really wanted to create a novel that was bigger than a short story,” Prior said. “If I was going to sit down and really embrace writing, I wanted to create an entire world.”

And Prior has done just that. Set in an alternate reality, “Skyfire” tells the story of Jack Singe, a teenage boy whose life is changed forever by a world grappled in war and despair. Filled with both action and adventure, Prior has created a story that he hopes will enthrall the reader.

“I think everyone, no matter if you’re a young person or an adult, can relate to Jack in his struggle,” Prior said. “I wanted to write the book in a way that people could be really impacted by it.”

Prior first began “Skyfire” when he was 17, initially approaching it as a hobby. He kept the story to himself, sharing with no one his ideas or the fact that he was even writing a book. As he continued to write, Prior grew more involved with the story, almost using it as a form of escapism.

He also kept the story to himself because he was uncertain about its future. Although he hoped of one day publishing it, Prior realized that telling his friends and family about the story would establish a certain expectation. And pressure upon his shoulders was the last thing the writer wanted.

“Once you tell people that you’re writing, they expect you to finish,” Prior said. “But sometimes I would go through months without writing a word. If I had told people, I would have felt internally an obligation to finish it.”

But eventually, the day came that Prior typed that last word, ending the final chapter. He still recalls that feeling, a mix of both accomplishment and sadness.

“Your heart is racing and you can’t even feel your fingers as you’re typing. Right as I typed the last word and put a period behind it, I felt this overwhelming sense of pride. But then too, I was sad because it was the end of the story—the book was finished,” Prior said.

While visiting home for the summer, he printed the two-hundred-fifty page document, finally revealing to his parents that secret he had kept from them for three years. They were overjoyed at their son’s accomplishment, becoming the first two people to ever read Prior’s novel.

Now that it was finished, next was the hardest decision of all: would he actually publish it? After keeping the story to himself for such a long time, it was hard for Prior to imagine sharing this book with the public. Yet on the other hand, he wanted to share it with others—he needed the reader to experience Jack’s story, to understand the struggles this character undergoes while somehow managing to rise above it all.

“It’s always scary putting your writing out in front of other people,” Prior said. “But I started writing because I love writing. And I am going to continue writing even if no one ever reads a book I publish again.”

Prior chose to self-publish his book for a number of reasons. While he didn’t want a publishing company to control the progress of “Skyfire” or any of his future novels, he also wanted to determine how the book’s profits would be utilized.

As Prior announced on Skyfire’s Facebook page last week, he plans to donate half the proceeds to SAU’s Dance Marathon and local Catholic Charities.

“Right when they purchase the book, I hope they have a sense that they’ve donated money to a good cause,” Prior said. “I want people to purchase this book to help me live my dream and help others live theirs.”

Prior originally ordered 50 books to sell. He has since ordered more copies, but the cover is slightly different than the one on the first 50.

“My initial goal was to sell 50 books. I wanted a distinct cover for those because it commemorates that they were the first 50 copies I sold,” Prior said.

Prior hopes that the book will teach the reader a valuable lesson, one that he himself cherishes deeply.

“I think this book can teach you great lessons on how to continue going when everything around you is collapsing,” Prior said. “And I hope the reader understands that no matter what’s going on, there’s always love in life.”

“Skyfire” is available for $20. To purchase a copy or for more information about the book, contact Prior via email at:

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