Author’s prequel, ‘New Watchers: The Dead Sea Scroll,’ is a fantasy epic

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UNION, NJ — “This is not a sequel. It’s more of a prequel,” said author Frantz Charles, a 2015 graduate of Union High School, in an interview with LocalSource on Friday, Nov. 24, about his new book, “New Watchers: The Dead Sea Scroll,” which was released this year. “Different characters, but the same world.”

Charles is referring to his debut novel, “GCP: The First Resurrection,” which he released in 2020, when he was 24 years old. There is, however, a lot more history to this book than that.

“The first book was published in October 2020,” Charles said. “It took me eight years. I initially wrote it in 2012. So I had this eight-year journey. I was 16 when I wrote it.”

At that point, he confessed he had a lot of ideas. All he needed was a little direction.

“When I finished the first book, the idea for part two, part three and part four came to mind. I had an idea for a trilogy. My agent said to aim for the middle-grade market. That’s when I started to work on the new one.

“For my first book, “GCP: The First Resurrection,” the characters were 17, 18 years old. For my second book, “New Watchers: The Dead Sea Scroll,” they were 13, 14, 15 years old.”

Although his target audience is in the middle grades, Charles knew he’d be presenting some serious topics, a reflection of what had happened in his own life.

“I lost my grandpa in 2020 and I wanted to talk about loss in the second book,” he said. “The main character, Selena, lost her mother and she loses her father, but she says ‘I’m not going to stay down: I’m going to save my world.’ I thought: I’m not going to let my grandpa’s death hold me down. So I put my life lessons in my book to help my readers.”

With that in mind, he started writing in December 2021 and had his second book finished in 2022. Even a bout with the nefarious COVID-19 disease for two or three weeks didn’t stop him from self-publishing his latest tome, just as he’d self-published the first one.

“I just graduated from William Paterson University with a bachelor’s degree. I just feel like I experienced loss with my grandpa dying, but I also experienced wins in life with graduating and the book signing (He did a book signing at Barnes & Noble last week). We’re all called to watch over something, to have a responsibility. That’s why I call my book ‘New Watchers.’ If we tap into our purpose, we will find something to look forward to in this thing called life.”

Although almost all the characters in “New Watchers” are female, Charles said that’s incidental.

“In the first book, the main character was a girl, but there were men as well,” he said. “In the second book, it was all women from different reaches of the world. It was more like this is a character; I really don’t care about the gender.”

Charles said he knew fantasy would play a significant role in his book, starting with The Dead Sea Scroll, which is featured in the title.

“There is this scroll, the Dead Sea Scroll,” he said. “The scroll talks about a fantasy world. I wanted to create my world, my own giants, my own mermaids.”

When it came to mermaids, despite their prominence in recent films, Charles said he knew he wanted to go in his own direction.

“I studied these different movies that had the concept of mermaids. I decided I wanted to create my own world. I wanted to really showcase my creativity.”

He also decided to look to one of the most famous books of all time for ideas: The Bible.

“I wanted Biblical themes to connect to me and what I learned and what I know and put it in the sense that it was real life and not just fantasy. If people are going to invest and buy my book, I want to put in lessons, good vs. evil.”

There are other influences as well, many a lot more recent.

“I was told I have cinematic writing,” Charles said. “I grew up watching anime. When I saw Dragon Ball Z and Naruto, I used some of their fighting styles. I wanted people to sit back and read my book and use real-life themes, but also say, ‘Wow, these fight scenes are amazing and so are these people.’

“I put a piece of me in each character, a different phase of my life or characteristic of me. Then I really fleshed them out.”

His writing has admirers. Charles won the silver Literary Titan Book Award for 2023. These awards are bestowed on books that exemplify exceptional standards in the presentation of original content. For both fiction and non-fiction works, this award appreciates the meticulous development of unique characters or subjects presented in an authentically engaging context.

Charles has plans for his future, both in writing and elsewhere.

“I am working on a third book,” he said. “I could have done a sequel to the first book or a sequel for ‘New Watchers.’ I decided to do the sequel for ‘New Watchers.’

“Right now, one of my goals is to tap into film and TV. One of my goals is to try and make it into a film.”

With his can-do attitude, it’s only a matter of time before his name is on the credit lines on television or the silver screen.

Charles’s latest book, “New Watchers: The Dead Sea Scroll,” can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or any online platform.