WEIRTON - When Matthew Valles holds a book signing for his debut young adult novel, "Warrior Seven," from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. July 12 at the Mary H. Weir Public Library, it will be the culmination of 10 years of work.
"Warrior Seven" is set in post-apocalyptic Pittsburgh - a Pittsburgh landmark, called the "Pitt," is featured prominently - and explores themes of how religion, culture, history and technology intersect in society.
"I've always been interested in (dystopian literature), but they never really had, or very few had, explanations on how it got to that point," said Valles. "I wanted to know what came before."
LOCAL AUTHOR — Weirton native Matthew Valles will sign the first book of a planned trilogy, “Warrior Seven,” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. July 12 at Mary H. Weir Public Library. Copies will be available for purchase for $12. -- Summer Wallace-Minger
"Warrior Seven" follows Daven, who is preparing to become a master in a religion he's unsure he believes in. Before he can undergo the final step, his village is invaded and the villagers enslaved. In order to save everyone he knows, Daven has to reconsider the meaning of sacrifice.
"He has his doubts about the veracity of the religion," said Valles.
Valles spent the bulk of the time working on the book researching Native American societies - especially Mayan and Aztec - and religions. An important part of lore in "Warrior Seven" - that caves, tunnels and caverns can be passages into other worlds - is heavily influenced by Valles' research. At the same time, he grounded the book in a locale he knew well.
"My familiarity with the landscape and geography helped with the realism," he said.
Describing writing as both his passion and hobby, Valles balances his work with his family, including daughter Michayla and son Jon Luke.
"I spend a lot of my free time writing," he said. "I split my time between my family, my writing and my job. The writing's almost like my third child."
Valles dedicated the book to his children.
"(Michayla) is already three chapters in and she's really enjoying it," he said, adding that his son also is reading the book.
His wife, Nancy, has been supportive of his efforts, reading the rough drafts and offering both praise and criticism.
"She's been so supportive," he said. "She's excited that I've finished it."
"Warrior Seven" received the Trafford Gold Seal of Literary Excellence and a US Review of Books recommendation.
"It's funny, actually, a couple days ago, I was going through the press releases my publicist had generated, and I came across (Hunger Games trilogy author) Suzanne Collins' Instagram, and she posted a picture of the book and recommended it to her readers," he said.
Valles is currently working on a second book in the trilogy and it will be available in the latter half of 2015.
"Warrior Seven" will be available during the book signing for $12. It also is available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Trafford.com and through Google Books. It is available both as hardback and paperback and as an ebook.
Valles, the son of Dave and MaryAnn Valles, is a 1999 Weir High School graduate and a 2004 Fairmont State University graduate, where he studied English and education. He currently works at Independence Excavating Inc. in Independence, Ohio, and lives in Weirton with his family.