GBHS faculty member self-publishes book

Spanish teacher dives into his historical fiction novel


Bella Khor

Spanish teacher Grant Adams self-published a historical fiction novel, just recently republishing a further edited version of it.

Despite how strange it is to imagine the teacher in the front of the room doing anything other than their daily routine during school hours, it is, indeed, a fact that they have lives and aspirations that reach beyond the classroom.

One such aspiration is writing and eventually publishing a book, as Spanish teacher Grant Adams and yearbook advisor has done.

“My book is titled, ‘The King of Petén’, it is categorized as historical fiction, which is actually my favorite category to read,” Adams said. “It’s about two friends who find themselves trapped within the Mayan culture back during the Mayan era, anywhere between 400 to 600 A.D.”

The ancient Mayan civilization he explores in his novel resided in what are today Central and Latin American countries, such as Guatemala. Adams has been to Guatemala “about a dozen times” as it is the homeland of one of his best friends. He mentioned that he often visited the Mayan ruins in Tikal and experienced the urge to write something “fun to read” about the ruins.

“In fact, the main (setting) in the book is Tikal, and so when it talks about about all the temples and observatories and ball game court areas (all those details) are (there)  because I was there and measured and took pictures of it,” Adams added.

He didn’t sit down to write the book immediately, “The King of Petén” lingered in his mind for three to four years. Adams spent those years researching Mayan culture in depth and picking the brains of guides at Tikal for additional knowledge. 

“Wikipedia doesn’t do it,” he added. “You’ve got to get to the hardbound stuff to get true facts.”

Adams initially spent around a year putting down thoughts for mini chapters and trying out his ideas for his novel, balancing the other elements in his life, until he encountered a chance opportunity to finally double down on writing his book.

“I was working for the Elk Grove Unified School District, (and they) were offering a writing scholarship. They don’t give it now, but they did for a couple of years,” Adams said. “… If you got selected by the district they would pay for you to go to a writing studio.”

Adams further expanded on this part of his journey to being a published author, saying that he submitted a couple of chapters and “(the district) liked it.” The writing studio was in Vermont and the scholarship was two weeks long.

“They give an office with internet and that’s what you do… all you do is write,” Adams said. “There’s no outside world, there’s no work, and soon 10,000 words turned into 50,000 words, and that’s pretty much when I wrote the bulk of the book.”

When it came to publishing his book, Adams had intended on having a literary agent or a publishing company pick up his book, but despite his best efforts, no one took up the opportunity.

“I think (I sent out) a total of 35 (query letters),” Adams said. “Sent and rejected.”

The query letters are “like a cover letter for a job” according to Adams, including a synopsis of the book and a little bit about the author themselves, “basically whatever you read on the back of the book.”

He ended up self-publishing his novel and got his manuscript consolidated into a published product.

“I chose a self-publisher, sought them out and got their help…” Adams said. “I mean really, when you think about it, anyone could sell (a book)… but it’s satisfying to know that the hours that I put in (were finally) formalized (in a bound copy).”

As of now, Adams is satisfied with his first run as a published author, although he strives to improve his quality of work in his next potential novel.

“With (“The King of Petén) I wanted to just see, can I write something from start to finish…” Adams said, “I completed my goal, I was able to write a book (from) start to finish.”

“I think it’s a fun read, but I know I could do much better,” Adams said.