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When Caleb Chandler moved from Alaska to Oregon State University as a freshman, he didn’t know anyone within 1,000 miles of Corvallis.

Feeling isolated, he turned to writing as an escape, and returned to familiar characters.

Chandler started working in earnest on a story he’d been kicking around since he was a seventh-grader, daydreaming in math class and riffing on the animated show “The Last Airbender.”

“It was a fun hobby. I did it for stress relief,” Chandler said. “Writing was kind of the outlet that gave me a chance to relax. … When I was feeling down or needed a place to find solitude in, I would just write.”

Last May, “Dark Ocean: A Memory of Solstice,” the first book in a planned science fiction series, was published by Dark Tidings Press, an Albany-based company.

The novel clocks in at more than 150,000 words, most of them written in Chandler’s dorm room and the Valley Library on campus.

"A Memory of Solstice” is about a group of individuals who can control the elements. They’re recruited by an unfamiliar corporation that helps them control their abilities in secret. The group learns of a forgotten planet, Solstice, which holds the unknown origins of the human race and the secrets to their mysterious powers.

Chandler hopes the second novel in the series will be published this summer, just after his graduation from Oregon State. The working title is “Dark Ocean: Theory of an Origin.”

The 22-year-old said that he’s always loved storytelling, even when he was playing with Legos and action figures as a kid. He added that he enjoys taking something familiar, hence the setting on Earth for “A Memory of Solstice,” and “bending it upside down,” changing the rules and reality.

Friends are incredulous that he was able to find the time to write a novel while taking classes and working. “They’re all, ‘How did you do this?’” Chandler said.

Chandler said that after his initial “awkward” freshman year, he started feeling like he belonged as a sophomore and joined campus organizations.

He’s now a member of the OSU Student Alumni Ambassadors and Sigma Beta Rho, a multicultural fraternity, which doesn’t have an actual house.

And he works as a web producer for the Orange Media Network, mainly helping with The Daily Barometer’s website.

Coming from Alaska, the recent winter weather was a taste of home for Chandler, unlike many Oregonians who were panicked about the snow. “I was laughing at it. It was cool,” he said.

After graduation, Chandler hopes to stay in the lower 48, and he hopes his novel can show potential employers that "I can follow through with a large project."

Chandler didn't write the novel to bolster his resume, though, and said he’ll be writing long after he gets his first job after college.

A rough sketch for the rest of the series features main plots for books three, four, fix and six. Only a few hundred thousand more words to go.

For more information on Caleb Chandler, “Dark Ocean: A Memory of Solstice,” and Dark Tidings Press, go to www.darktidingspress.com.

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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