Students Inspire Coon Rapids Teacher to Publish

Kristem Rohloff

Originally published in Anoka County Union Herald – December 15, 2017

It took a nudge from one of her students before Coon Rapids resident Kristen Rohloff decided to pursue publication of her four-book series, “Phantasmic Wars.”

Rohloff, 29, teaches high school English online for Minnesota Virtual Academy. Approximately 140 students from all over the state take her classes.

Though she has more flexibility than teachers in brick and mortar schools, she tries to spend much of the day interacting with her students over email or Skype, she said. In an interaction with one of her creative writing students, the student questioned why Rohloff had not published work she had discussed with them, and she didn’t have a good answer. “Life happens” was the best she could come up with, she said.

Her family has moved several times in the last five years, and when she isn’t teaching, she’s busy wrangling her two children, both under age 5.

“It’s been in the back of my mind, this book,” Rohloff said. The premise of the series came from a dream she had in college at Winona State University.

The balance between this world and the one of imagination and dreams is disrupted, and students are sent on a quest to retrieve artifacts of reality from within their imagination to restore that balance.

It’s a middle level series in the fantasy-adventure genre. Rohloff saw the first book of the series, “The Book of Imagination,” publish over MEA break this October under her pen name, El Holly.

The other three books are mapped out, but she still needs to write them. She’s almost halfway through book two, which will be called “The Quest for the Artifacts.”

Rohloff began writing the series in college, right after her dream. But as life got busier, she set the pages aside. Years later, she was afraid to look at them. But she mustered up the courage and went to work revising and editing.

“It kind of sparked my excitement again for it,” she said. She had some of her friends’ children read the first book, and her students expressed interest in picking it up as well. “I have been getting very positive feedback,” she said. The son of one friend told her he liked it more than the “Percy Jackson” series, which Rohloff took as high praise.

One of her students really connected with the narrator’s voice, which is tinged with sarcastic humor.

Rohloff strove to keep the series “lighthearted” because there are so many serious, post-apocalyptic novels for teenagers these days, she said.

Having her work published has been a dream of Rohloff’s since she was a young girl. “I want my kids to see me as someone who pursues her passions,” she said.

“The Book of Imagination” is available through Amazon. A paperback copy comes with an e-book for $7.99. The e-book by itself costs $1.99.

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