Drew Bowling flew through his senior algebra exam. In the remaining minutes, as classmates at Magruder High School in Rockville double-checked their answers, passed notes, or daydreamed, Bowling started writing. By the time the bell rang, he had the beginnings of a fantasy novel.
He then mailed the manuscript, which he titled The Tower of Shadows, to Random House—publisher of the Eragon and Harry Potter series.
“They could have said, ‘Pay us and we’ll publish the book,’ and I would have leapt at the opportunity,” he says. Instead, Random House asked him to write two more.
His first book, published in December, is a tale teeming with dark magic, wizardry, and fraternal conflict. It has earned praise from some of the genre’s titans. R.A. Salvatore, one of Bowling’s literary heroes, said: “Reading The Tower of Shadows was a very visual experience for me, as if I were there or watching a movie.”
Bowling attributes his love of writing to his parents. His mother is a high-school English teacher. His father, who has a PhD in 19th-century British literature, gave him a copy of The Lord of the Rings when he was a third-grader. “Instead of watching TV,” Bowling says, “I would curl up with a pen and some paper.”
Between classes at Loyola College in Baltimore and snowboarding outings, the 21-year-old from Derwood is working on the second novel. Also planned: a postapocalyptic fantasy set in DC.
“You always see people using New York,” he says, “but I get excited about using my hometown.”