TROY - Troy University accounting freshman Slay James of Vestavia Hills is, in many ways, the typical college freshman.
In the fall, he entered college and pledged Sigma Chi Fraternity. He got into the sport of Ultimate Frisbee and became involved in Campus Outreach and Chi Alpha, a Christian student organization. He's looking to get more involved in campus life. Like many freshmen, he struggles to find that balance between school life and social life.
And, he's trying to find time to write.
James came to TROY with a nearly-edited draft of his first novel, "Hero." It was published in September 2015 by Books-A-Million.
A good student in high school and a track athlete, James admitted the novel's roots are found in a daydreaming session during Algebra 2 class at Vestavia Hills High School.
"It was my junior year and I was sitting in math class," he said. "I flipped to a blank page in my notebook and just started writing. I had the mindset that I was going to write."
That idea would take him through his senior year. He readily admits he was inspired by the "Harry Potter" and "Aragon" series as well as superheroes such as "Batman" and "Spiderman," but "Hero" is the story of a high senior who gains three supernatural abilities and then uses them to fight crime. "Hero" is the first of what James has dubbed "The Changeling Series."
When he finished the novel, "I was excited and wanted it published immediately," he said. A trip to the local Books-A-Million at Birmingham's Brookwood Mall, where the store has an "Espresso Book Machine," led to an editing process.
"When I went to the self-publishing machine, the guy who was helping me with it asked if the book had been edited, and suggested some editors. One met with me in person and she edited the book. Then, it took me another year to make the changes and I finished that draft earlier in the (fall) semester," he said. "I took it back home over the weekend - a birthday weekend for me and my dad – and we published the book."
The book became the in-store bestselling local author in October and November and the overall best seller for the winter quarter. The book can be purchased in the Brookwood store, or through Books-A-Million online.
Now, books two and three are in the planning stages.
"Most of my free time is schoolwork and homework," he said, laughing that he might be procrastinating just a little on writing.
"I came to TROY because of the business school, and that's my top priority right now. I may want writing to be my top priority, but I'm good with numbers and accounting is my main goal," he said.
James said he became interested in TROY because of running track. His first experience on campus was a track camp, then attended a Trojan Day during his junior year. His choice came down to TROY and Piedmont.
"I really wanted to come to TROY because of Dr. Grice. I decided in my senior year that I didn't want to run anymore and that solidified my decision to come to TROY," he said.