While students in Memphis were kicking off their Spring Break in myriad ways, one 7th grader in particular was wrapping up his book signing event in New York.
Memphian Vince Boberski is the 11 year-old winner of a nationwide contest hosted by Story Pirates, a group of improv comedians who perform shows inspired by kids’ wildest ideas. Since their founding in 2004, they’ve evolved into a media and education organization with a hit radio show, a weekly podcast, and a coast to coast live tour.
When Story Pirates announced they were embarking on their next adventure, publishing their first book, Vince, who was a 5th grader at the time, was listening. The contest asked kids across the country to send in the main points of their story ideas and outlines for main characters. The winner would have their idea turned into a fully realized book written by New York Times bestselling author Geoff Rodkey.
“I’ve always liked creative writing and just writing stories a lot,” said Vince. “In fifth grade in English class we were just told to write any story that we wanted to and we could use a prompt that the teacher gave us or not, and I decided not to.”
Vince admits that he had been watching a lot of “Back to the Future” when he settled on the idea of two quirky scientists who, due to an accident in the lab, travel back in time and get stuck in the Stone Age and have to find their way back to the present. When he heard about the contest, he decided to submit what he had worked on for class. It was the middle of the school year.
The following summer, someone from Story Pirates reached out to make sure travel wasn’t a problem for him, and that’s when he began to suspect that he was at least moving forward in the competition.
Another email soon followed. Watch below for the story of how Vince found out he won.
Vince and his father headed to Story Pirates’ NYC headquarters for the “surprise” announcement that he’d won. He got to meet the Story Pirates who he says are all really nice people, and spent a couple of hours with writer Geoff Rodkey working over the story idea.
The resulting book The Story Pirates Present: Stuck in the Stone Age was released last week by Rodale Books subsidiary Rodale Kids.
“In the book, I wrote the introduction and I also recorded the introduction for the audiobook down at Ardent Studios in Midtown. The head lady there, she’s really nice. She took us on a tour there and people like R.E.M., ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, and Big Star recorded music there. It was pretty amazing to record there because I really like all of those bands.”
Vince says he got to see a draft of the finished book about a month ago, and then he and his dad went back to New York for the official book launch and signing on March 8th.
“I really like the finished product and what they’ve done with the story. I remember a lot of the stuff from my story and then reading their book, I liked finding the similarities and the differences between the two stories. I think people are really going to enjoy the book.”
Ask how his life has changed since such a cool accomplishment and Vince will tell you he’s keeping it pretty lowkey. He continues to play saxophone in his school band at MUS, and run around with his sister and their two dogs. He cheers on the Grizzlies and his favorite player Mike Conley, occasionally writes songs, and says he wants to keep developing his writing.
“Since I’ve won this contest, I feel like my writing has taken a higher level than it was before. I seem to have a little bit more purpose in writing than I had before. It was just something to do, but now I really enjoy writing and see what it can lead to.”
Check out the Story Pirates’ video of Vince’s visit and learn more about Stuck in the Stone Age at their website.