HomeEntertainmentWar and werewolves highlight CHS alum’s first novel

War and werewolves highlight CHS alum’s first novel

Published Jan. 30, 2023


“In the darkness of the Life-realm, one werewolf shall herald the light.”

This is the “Lightborn” saga in its simplest form: a fantasy trilogy about war, diplomacy, magic, legends and, of course, werewolves.

Zac Buzza, who graduated from Carmel High School in 2017 and later attended both Monterey Peninsula College and California State University, Fullerton, recently began fundraising efforts to publish the first book in this series, an endeavor he could not have even conceived of when he stepped into CHS teacher Mike Palshaw’s English IV class seven years earlier.

“That was where I was first like, ‘Okay, I could see myself doing this as a career,’” says Buzza, referring to his realization that his previous pursuit of computer programming wasn’t what he had been looking for.

After reading a short story the senior had submitted for an assignment, Palshaw encouraged Buzza to publish it online. Only 17 pages, “Scapegoat” set the stage for Buzza’s continued exploration of writing through a Studio Art major at CSU Fullerton and associate degrees in writing and animation from MPC.

CHS alum Zac Buzza is on his way to publishing his first novel in a process set in motion by English teachers Mike Palshaw and the late Whitney Grummon. (courtesy of ZAC BUZZA)

When COVID-19 initially struck, the writer was grappling with severe back issues as an Army Cadet at Fullerton. When presented with an unexpected break, he jumped at the opportunity to write a novel.

“Originally when I sat down to write it, I wasn’t sure what I wanted,” Buzza explains. “‘Lightborn’ actually started as a prequel to another story that I wrote during my time at MPC.”

The writer did know, however, that he had from April until September to work before school resumed in-person, so through countless all-nighters and disciplined work, he completed the first draft in less than five months. Now, Buzza has the approximately 400- to 500-page novel ready to publish in addition to more tentative drafts of the following books, along with cover and concept art the author created himself.

“It’s amazing the things that happen when you find something you’re passionate about and just go for it,” he reflects.

The idea for “Lightborn” itself resulted from an exploration of a character that had appeared at the end of another of Buzza’s stories: Isengrim, the protagonist of the new series.

“The ‘Lightborn’ is a legendary, mythical figure among the werewolves that’s supposed to bring the whole world together,” Buzza explains, “Although the process of doing so is not quite as peaceful as he would hope that it was. So it’s the story of him becoming, instead of a leader in the political sphere, a leader through combat and diplomacy.”

If his current Kickstarter project at www.kickstarter.com/projects/lightbornnovel/lightborn, set to end Feb. 6, does not meet the fundraising goal, Buzza intends to launch another one 30 days afterward. The project can be found on kickstarter.com under “Lightborn Saga: Book 1.” 

In the meantime, the author continues writing and working an interim job to support himself with the hopes of eventually transitioning to being a full-time author and artist.

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