An Ohio author spoke to Delaware Online Academy students Friday and used the story of getting his book published to encourage students to work hard and be resilient.
Evan Ponstingle, a senior at William Mason High School in Mason, Ohio, and author of “Kings Island: A Ride Through Time,” visited Catherine Keller’s virtual academy class virtually to share his experience of writing a book about the theme park.
Ponstingle, Keller’s nephew, said he grew up frequenting Kings Island and began working there as a teenager. While he worked in some of the shops at the park, guests would frequently ask if there were in books about Kings Island’s history. He was surprised to learn there wasn’t one.
“Not only did we not sell any, no one had written one,” Ponstingle said. “Next year will be its 50th anniversary, so it’s had a lot of time to have a lot of really cool history. … There was a lot of people interested in reading a book about it, and I heard this comment so much that I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to write this book.’”
Ponstingle said he began interviewing executives, designers, managers, and former employees in 2019, adding it was easy to find people via the internet. In addition, he said many people he interviewed would give him contact information for other interview candidates.
“That’s how I was able to get a lot of other people,” Ponstingle said.
He was even able to interview Kings Island founder Gary Wachs because of contacts he made during his interviews.
“That was one of the most amazing things,” Ponstingle said. “It was just awesome.”
Ponstingle said he signed a contract with a publisher to have the book released early in 2020, but after the publisher began pushing dates and not responding, Ponstingle began to worry.
“There were a lot of red flags,” he said, adding he submitted the final draft of the book, got no response from the publisher, and then learned they were tabling all of their upcoming releases, They even suggested he find a new publisher.
“You have to persist,” Ponstingle said. “There were definitely a lot of challenges in this book.”
The very next day, he said he started finding a new publisher and was able to find a new and better publisher who released the book earlier this month. He added the extra time actually allowed him to do more interviews and organize the creation of an original book cover.
Ponstingle took student questions after his presentation and encouraged the students not to give up, even in the face of challenges and setbacks.
“I’m only 17, and I followed my passion of Kings Island to write and publish this book, so I hope that proves to them to follow their passions and that you can really do amazing things with that, no matter the age,” Ponstingle said after the presentation. “I also hope that it proved to them that dedication and hard work really does pay off. I also hope that it proves that you can overcome challenges that come your way, and use those challenges to your advantage to create something better.
“I really enjoyed going ‘into’ my aunt’s classroom and sharing the story behind my book with the students. I think it was a really great opportunity for the students to “meet” and actually interact with a real author, and I hope they felt that it was inspiring to learn that even young people can accomplish really cool things!”
Ponstingle said he’ll be attending Bowling Green State University to major in attraction management in the fall. His book is now for sale on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.