BUCKHANNON — For most of his adult life, Tyler Hall thought of himself as a grim novelist.
He thought he was a writer who searched his mind for dark subjects that would speak to mature and more “adult” aspects of life.
It might surprise you, then, as it surprised Hall himself, that he’s getting closer to his writing debut as the published author of a colorful and uplifting children’s book.
Hall, a Buckhannon native who enjoys writing fiction and playing music, has written a children’s book called “The Sticker Kids”, which he hopes will give young people the courage to accept themselves in the face of a constant barrage of perfectly maintained social media images. . But to do this, he needs the help of local donors.
While the “Sticker Kids” is suitable for an audience of toddlers up to age 10, Hall says the message can benefit everyone.
“It’s a picture book, but the moral is a message that I think transcends age,” he said. “It’s really about accepting yourself with all of its weirdness and weirdness. In the world of social media, we often succumb to toxic comparisons.”
The story takes place on the planet Eva, where an alien species known as the Warples have discovered a way to alter their physical appearance by applying permanent stickers to hide their imperfections. The protagonist is a Warple named Talley, who feels increasingly sad and distraught as a result of constantly comparing himself to others and in his mind, falling short.
“Tally feels bad about herself, so she skips class and meets another student, Mookie, and he’s always been made fun of for not wearing stickers,” Hall said. “He’s abstract and amorphous and strange to other Warples.”
But Mookie teaches Tally that when she covers her imperfections with stickers, she also hides her beautiful uniqueness.
“Stickers are kind of like a metaphor for wanting to change yourself,” Hall said. “It’s about looking outside for validation and how social media can exacerbate that if you’re constantly comparing yourself to high points in people’s lives.”
“When applying the stickers, Warples lose the ability to be themselves and be content with that,” he added. “On the surface, applying stickers is symbolic of changing yourself to look better to others, but on another level, removing stickers is like removing emotional trauma, so removing stickers is like removing both emotional trauma and the things we do to cover up the trauma.
“Sticker Kids” began as a Christmas gift room created for a friend who was feeling depressed.
“It was a Christmas present for a friend at a time when she and I didn’t quite feel like us,” Hall recalled. “We had both gained weight in the pandemic and this and that, so I just wanted to give him something that said, ‘You’re exactly where you need to be, and if you can accept that, you’ll be happier. each and every day.'”
The friend asked Hall to promise he would one day do “something with his writing” – and he is. Using the fundraising platform, Kickstarter, Hall’s goal is to raise $5,000 in 60 days to cover design and illustration, printing, production and publishing costs.
Unlike some Kickstarter-funded projects whose status is still in the concept phase, “The Sticker Kids” is a fully completed manuscript. And seeing the book come to fruition — printed in a physical store with an ISBN and barcode — will be truly meaningful to Hall.
“I want to keep my promise,” he said. “Often in the past, the kinds of toxic comparisons I write about in the book have kept me from producing much art. I’m classically hard on myself.
Hall said that when he was living in Chicago while earning his bachelor’s degree in instrumental performance from Columbia College Chicago, he found plenty of fuel for the ruthless fire of toxic comparison.
“When I came up to Chicago, it was hard to see how good people can be,” he said. “But I’ve found that half the battle is actually doing it. It’s more about the battle than being the Hendrix or the Van Gogh or the Hemingway. The important thing is to keep creating art as a practice and that creates community.
Hall experienced this personally during the production of “The Sticker Kids”. He stressed how grateful he was for the contributions of other members of the local community, especially artists Daniel Christopher Cain and Natalie Austin, who produced concept artwork for the book.
“One of the really special things about this book is how truly local it is,” said Hall, thanking Cain and Austin as well as Dr. Jess Scott of West Virginia Wesleyan College, who referred it to Silent Books Publishing. . He also credited musician Colin Reger with whom he partnered to produce the original music for the Kickstarter video.
“It was a collaborative effort,” he said. “It wasn’t for Natalie, Daniel, Colin and Jess, I don’t think it would be anywhere near the project it is today. It’s through those people that it comes to life.
Whether you just want to buy a copy for a child (or adult) in your life or help ensure the publication of the book, there are five levels of sponsorship ranging from covering the cost of the book (Back it Because You Believe in It) all the way to Platinum level (the ultimate bonus package that contains a copy of the original manuscript and your name in the “special thanks” section of each printed copy).
To support “The Sticker Kids”, visit Hall’s Kickstarter page here. Hall hopes to deliver hard copies of “The Sticker Kids” by December 2022.