TOWNSEND -- Writer and Townsend native Jason R. Koivu has signed a contract with Texas-based publisher Black Rose Writing to put out his latest novel, "Beyond Barlow."

In this coming-of-age story of a young man whose mistakes force him to the brink of his moral limits, "Beyond Barlow" follows the adventures of Ford Barlow, who is banished from his home and clansmen after tragedy forces him into joining a band of thieving boys. His new found home and companions are threatened when a mysterious massacre chases the boys through a magical forest into the arms of unknown dangers.

"This book is the first in a series I've been developing for about eight years," says Koivu. "I started another book before this one with some of the same characters, but I realized the overall story's chronology needed to start sooner, so 'Beyond Barlow' took over as the first book and now I'm editing the old novel, which will be book two in the series."

Originally from Townsend, Koivu graduated from North Middlesex High in 1991 and soon after received an English degree from Fitchburg State. After a stint living in Los Angeles and working in the movie industry, he and his wife moved up the coast to the Santa Barbara.

"That's where the germ of an idea for this series first took hold and I began putting word to paper."

However, it was his fondness for New England forests that created the backbone of the story, as well as fostering his early love of fantasy.


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"Writing fantasy has always felt natural," he said. "I had a strong imagination as a kid and almost endless woods behind my house, so I would wander around back there all the time, daydreaming of the adventures I'd read about in books by J.R.R. Tolkien among others. In fact, when I was 12, I attempted my first book, which basically turned out to be a terrible rip-off of 'The Hobbit.' Since then I've gotten better and come up with a few ideas of my own."

"Beyond Barlow" is set for release on Sept. 14 and is available through the publisher and Amazon.com.