Local author releases Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Action Adventure Novel

The Connection Forging Steel is a 364-page story inspired by the author’s connection to a
coatimundi at the St. Augustine Wild Reserve

Gaston King, Author

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL — Gaston King, the Marketing Specialist at Marineland Dolphin
Adventure, and grandson of Steve Spurrier, announces the release of his novel The Connection Forging Steel : a young adult, sci-fi, action-adventure novel. The book is now available and on sale on Amazon KDP as well as Barnes and Noble Press. He was inspired to write the book when he moved away and could no longer volunteer at the St. Augustine Wild Reserve. A local wildlife sanctuary that provides a home for rescued exotic animals.

In the year 3045, lies 18-year-old Justin Steele, mentored for the past decade by his grandfather, Herschel Steele, in combat and the intricacies of the animal kingdom. Justin strives to forge his own path by surpassing the difficult trials of the Wildlife Training Program (WT). A government-funded organization that provides new members with an exotic animal partner.

Depending on the partner that the trainer receives, depicts which part of the country the pair will be sent to work. Justin’s journey unfolds as he receives an unexpected partnership with Coco, a South American coatimundi.

Empowered by his grandfather’s teachings, Justin discovers he possesses an ancestral metallic strength within. The protector’s armor is a gift handed down from generation to generation that provides the user with hardened metallic skin and unmatched strength. Justin and Coco must navigate their newfound abilities to shield Ignacia and confront the menacing members of the AFA, an organization determined to undermine everything the WT has built.

Among the AFA lies their leader, The Dark Trainer. The sole perpetrator responsible for
removing the previous protector for their country, Ignacia. Jericho Zhang was matched with an animal partner that carried the ability to transform into any animal that his partner desired. A power that had been locked away, but originally began among Justin’s family origins.

All of that and more lies ahead! Prepare to face numerous challenges and obstacles as you
experience the story of Justin and Coco. Watch as they take on the AFA head-on and follow
Justin’s dream to become the next leader of the Hero Regime.

Originally what inspired me to write this book was a real connection I found with a coatimundi named Maya at The St. Augustine Wild Reserve. I’ve been an animal caretaker with them since 2018. I met Maya when she was just a few months old; she had been rescued from breeder overstock back in September of 2019. Once I met her and held her in my arms, I felt an almost immediate link between her and me. From then on I made it a mission to spend as much time with her as possible. I learned a lot about coatimundis over the years and I’ve included that knowledge throughout the story, The Connection Forging Steel.

EBook: https://tinyurl.com/theconnectionforgingsteelebook Available for $0.99
Paperback: https://tinyurl.com/theconctinforgingsteelpaprback Available for $12.95
Hardcover Dust Jacket: https://tinyurl.com/barnesandnoblepresshardcover Available for $23.95

1. eBook ISBN: 979-8-9899752-1-1
2. Paperback ISBN: 979-8-9899752-0-4
3. Hardcover Dust Jacket: 979-8-9899752-3-5

My inspiration for writing this piece goes back to 2020. Covid was in full swing, my girlfriend atvthe time had just moved to Panama City and I was still working at Embassy Suites on St.
Augustine Beach as an activities manager at the pool. I was always happiest when I was
volunteering at The St. Augustine Wild Reserve. I’d been an animal caretaker volunteer there
since 2018 and I’d grown fond of all of our amazing animals — lions, tigers, ligers, but
especially a small coatimundi named Maya. She’d been rescued from breeder overstock and
brought to The Reserve when she was two months old back in September of 2019. After ten
months together, the time had finally come when I decided to follow my girlfriend to Panama City. However, that meant I had to say goodbye to Maya and the other animals. I was crushed to leave her behind, but I promised I would return to visit.

After I moved into my own place in 2020 in Panama City I started to miss Maya and the big cats at The Reserve. That was when I decided I wanted to write my first novel. I’d always written poetry from time to time, but never a full-length story. If I was going to do something new and out of my wheel-house I needed to locate someone with a deeper understanding and background in literature. I contacted my old English professor, Dr. Dean Roof from Columbia, SC. I asked Dean if he would be my developmental editor as I embarked on this new project and he agreed. I was ecstatic and comfortable enough to move forward because I felt like I was in good hands.

The brainstorming and storyboarding process took a month to iron out with Dean’s assistance. I started writing and made it a weekly routine to go to Books-a million every Saturday and write for 5-6 hours. After reading the first few chapters, Dean was fearful it would be too much like Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass”. I explained to Dean the difference in genre for Sci-Fi vs Fantasy and the differentiating factors my story featured that Pullman’s did not. After a few beta readers we verified that they were very different and continued forward with the process.

Throughout the entire creative process, I felt as though Maya was climbing on my shoulder
watching me write the story. A year later I pieced together my first rough draft and was able to go back to Saint Augustine and visit Maya. However, she was distant, mature and had gone through sexual maturity. She was now the matriarch of her habitat and was in charge. Maya was not the same baby coati or kit that I remember helping raise. I understood the changes and it was perfectly natural for animals to grow and evolve over time. However, I was saddened that she did not greet me with the same level of enthusiasm that she used to.

The memory of baby Maya sat inside my mind for the next few weeks that followed. I used that memory of her of who she was and who she is to create the coati character “Coco” in the story.

Thankfully my wife Maria and I were able to move back to St. Augustine in 2023 and I returned to volunteering at The Reserve again almost immediately. Once I picked up where I left off, I was dedicated to rebuilding the relationship she and I once had. For the first three months, one day a week, I entered her habitat and sat on a black stool and waited for her to approach me like she used to. However, she remained on her wooden tower on the opposite end of her habitat and watched me. Maya wouldn’t climb to me, chirp to me, or approach me at all. But that was when Lindsay Ehrlrich, manager of The Reserve suggested using certain scents to spark her interest. A month later, it was March of 2023 and I experimented with some pumpkin spice and vanilla extract on my wrists. Since coatimundis have a great sense of smell she became curious and started climbing the roof of her enclosure. Maya sniffed my hands and finally allowed me to scratch her back once again. As time passed she allowed herself to relax and became comfortable enough to climb along my shoulders again. I spent the remainder of 2023 focusing my time and energy on her and completing the book.

Fortunately, I was able to complete the story and rebuild my relationship with Maya.

“A huge THANK YOU to everyone for your time and interest. I hope you allow my story to
provide you with an action-packed escape from day-to-day hardships,” King says. “It is my goal for this story to give readers another reason to smile.”

Find more details about the book, the author, and Maya the coati at www.gastontking.com

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