By SARAH CHAIN
Daily Record / Sunday News
T.J. Lantz has had “a little obsession” with gnomes since he was young.
“When we were kids, we’d go around and grab them off lawns,” said the 31-year-old Manchester Township resident, who grew up in Long Island, N.Y.
Lantz would then make up stories about what they did, he said. He started writing the stories when he was 8 or 9 years old.
So it wasn’t too far of a stretch to write “Gnit-Wit Gnipper and the Perilous Plague” last fall. The short story follows Gnipper Tallhat, an 8-year-old gnome whose only goal is to earn her plieus — Greek for a cone-shaped hat — and impress her father, Professor Gnorbert Tallhat. But trouble seems to follow Gnipper everywhere she goes.
The book is available as an e-book and in print exclusively at amazon.com.
Lantz began writing short stories after noticing his students were reading excerpts from longer stories in class. He had taught fourth and fifth grades at Devers, McKinley and Davis elementary schools in York after earning his master’s degree in education from Drexel University in 2009. He was furloughed in June for budgetary reasons.
“Working in the city, where the kids don’t have the same background as other places, they had trouble placing (the excerpts) in context,” Lantz said.
Short stories provided an opportunity for students “so they could understand theme, character, setting, without being confused because they didn’t read the first half of the book,” he said.
When a librarian at Davis Elementary School heard about Lantz’s short story, she suggested donating a few copies to Martin Library. Lantz will also donate a copy to each elementary school in the York City School District.
But Lantz didn’t stop there. He’s also working on a novel, due out Aug. 21, titled “Rise of the Retics.” Although not directly connected to “Gnit-Wit,” the stories do share a setting.
“The basic idea behind it is that it follows an alternate history in which fantastical creatures have been eliminated from our knowledge,” Lantz explained. Out of fear or the desire to take away their money or power, elves and gnomes were removed, he said. The novel tells the story of the few remaining creatures that are left.
Like his interest in gnomes, Lantz’s interest in cultural mythology also started at a young age. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology from York College in 2005.
“I had an interest, specifically, in seeing how some myths would travel through the ancient world,” Lantz said, using the draconic myth, which appears in cultures from China to England, as an example. “I just got to thinking one day, what if this was all somehow related.”
Unlike other fantasy writers, Lantz said, he included some actual history or mythology in the novel.
“It’s taking actual things that happened in our past and giving them a little different spin,” he said. The novel will be his first.
“I’ve done writing beforehand, but this is the first thing I’ve gone out and said, ‘Let’s see what I can do,’” Lantz said. “It’s my creative outlet.”
Name: T.J. Lantz
Lives in: Manchester Township
Family: Wife, Maya
Occupation: Recently furloughed from York City School District; had taught fourth and fifth grades
Hobbies:Dog training, hiking, kayaking, traveling
- “Gnit-Wit Gnipper and the Perilous Plague” is available as an e-book and in print exclusively at amazon.com. It will be featured in a children’s anthology published by Chamberton Publishing toward the end of the year.
- “Rise of the Retics” will be released Aug. 21. The novel will be available for purchase as an e-book and in print through major online booksellers.