WASILLA — Computer programmer Dave Koster said he’s always been a writer, but never planned to be a novelist.

A 1997 Colony High School graduate, Koster said he’s lived in Wasilla most of his life, and currently works at Alaska Native Medical Hospital in Anchorage. He studied computer science in college with the hope of someday designing video games for a living, but found that to be a “a super expensive industry to get into,” and settled for programming jobs, dabbling in woodworking, homebrewing, consulting and writing for fun on the side.

“I’m a pretty busy guy,” he said.

But Koster found himself with a little extra downtime last winter while traveling for business, and began work on what would become his debut novel, “Wine Bottles and Broomsticks.”

“I wrote most of the chapters on the plane and at the hotel,” he said. “I just got out my iPad, clicked away and knocked it out.”

By January he had a solid rough draft, but was still uncertain about his qualifications as a writer. Prior to “Wine Bottles and Broomsticks,” he had been working an epic fantasy novel a la J.R.R Tolkien, complete with invented languages and landscapes. But in comparing his book to an author widely considered the master of fantasy novels, Koster couldn’t help but think he wasn’t cut out for such an undertaking.

“I took a step back and said, 'I’m not very good at this,'” he said.

Then something happened at work, and a single, pithy sentence occurred to him: “The problem with witch hunts is that sometimes you find one.”

“That line just kinda stuck in my head,” he said, and it soon developed into an online serial that he quickly realized “really hung together as a novel.”

After receiving some positive feedback on Twitter and other online platforms, Koster did “a lot of revision,” he said, but there was still more to be done. For months he queried literary agents to find a line editor and publisher for his book with little sign of acceptance.

Then he found Inkshares, a web-based, self-publishing opportunity that depends on the author’s ability to build his or her readership.

For Koster, there are two goals: First, pre-sell 250 copies of “Wine Bottles and Broomsticks” at $10 per eBook and $20 for a signed paperback copy. If he does that by mid-November, Inkshares will edit and publish the book for every sale. If not, every purchaser gets refunded.

If Koster can pre-sell 750 copies of his book, Inkshares will actively market it, in addition to editing and publishing the novel.

“In general, selling a book is really, really hard from the get-go,” Koster said. “It’s very, very hard to get somebody’s attention … and it’s hard to support an author that doesn’t have a name yet.”

Being from Alaska — where the majority of published authors are nonfiction or Alaskana writers — may also put him at a disadvantage, he said.

“When you say you’re a writer from Alaska, immediately (people) say, ‘oh you must write about Alaska,’ and that’s cool, but that’s not really what I like to write about,” he said.

According to its Inkshares profile, “Wine Bottles and Broomsticks” is most similar to books like “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and “The Dresden Files.” It follows an “underachieving and mostly inept social media fraud investigator” tasked with embarking on a witch hunt that promptly turns into “an all-too real and deadly game of chase.”

“It’s supposed to be fun, light and entertaining above everything else,” Koster said.

Should his sales attempt succeed, Koster said he has plans for a second book with the same characters, as well as a couple other projects in the works — one a “patchwork fairytale” that turns old tales on their heads, and the other a comedic story about a deep-space help desk, driven by Koster’s real-world experience.

To pre-order a copy of “Wine Bottles and Broomsticks,” visit www.inkshares.com/books/wine-bottles-and-broomsticks

For more information about the book, follow Dave S. Koster on Twitter @daveskoster

Contact reporter Caitlin Skvorc at 352-2266 or caitlin.skvorc@frontiersman.com.

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