Maintenance Worker by Day, Magical Mine Moppet Author by Night
OSU-OKC maintenance employee pens charming young adult novel
Wiping sweat from his brow, K.J. Blocker climbs down a ladder on a muggy summer afternoon after fixing a faulty pipe at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC). Blocker has worked in the university’s construction and maintenance department for more than five years, a challenging line of work that calls for weekend and late-night repairs. In his free time, Blocker enjoys retreating to a magical world of his own devising; a world he has assiduously documented in a new, exciting young-adult book titled Treasure of the Magical Mine Moppets.
Treasure of the Magical Mine Moppets is the story of a farming family who discovers a magical mining world buried deep under their land. The world is full of happy creatures called moppets who work and play unaware that human life is taking place above them.
Blocker’s fictitious world is becoming a reality with Treasure of the Magical Mine Moppets scheduled for official release July 31, 2017. The book will be available for purchase at the OSU-OKC Bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell’s Books, Books-A-Million and Full Circle Bookstore. Barnes & Noble will be hosting a book signing event from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26 at its location at 6100 N. May Ave. in Oklahoma City.
The book is being released under Blocker’s pen name. Blocker is a family name that ties the author to his cousin, the late Dan Blocker who played Hoss on the long-running television western series Bonanza.
Blocker found inspiration for the enchanting book by looking into his family roots and a visit to a Polish mine. His great-grandfather was a miner, a job that had him working for long periods away from his family. Blocker’s grandfather resented that his father was always away and distanced himself from his own father. “My grandfather failed to recognize that in his own action of resentment, he became more like his father than he realized.”
Using elements from his own family’s struggles, Blocker shaped the human characters for his novel. He was inspired by a vibrant Polish mine he visited that featured colorful lighting and statues carved from slabs of salt. Coupling these tales and experiences, Blocker’s dynamic mind developed a storyline for Treasure of the Magical Mine Moppets four years ago.
Blocker describes the writing process as challenging. He found himself creating characters and mystical worlds when he was 19, something he calls an escape from a dysfunctional family. To begin the Moppets process, Blocker began developing a storyline and assembling a powerful team of editors. His wife and children also worked closely on the project offering their feedback as the book progressed.
Blocker sought out renowned artist Ron Oden to bring the vivid story to life through imagery. Oden expertly illustrated the tale resulting in a unique, lively book jacket that depicts three of the main human characters and a glimpse at some of the moppets.
“My hope is that when a reader picks up a copy and enters that magical world, they will be able to identify with one or more of the characters,” Blocker says. “Whether it’s Charlie Chili, a hypochondriac, or Dusty, the clumsy mine manager. Most of all, I hope readers see that forgiveness and second chances are possible.”
Because OSU-OKC has played a major part of Blocker’s life over the past five years, he worked with the OSU Foundation on funneling portions of the book proceeds back into OSU-OKC to benefit students, programs and the campus as a whole. During Blocker’s book signing event on Aug. 26, Barnes and Noble will be donating 20 percent of all store profits to the OSU-OKC President’s Literacy Fund. Shoppers must tell their cashier that they would like their purchase to go toward the OSU-OKC fundraiser at the time of checkout. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
For now, Blocker’s evenings are dedicated to the second and third installment of the book while he spends his days working tirelessly alongside the OSU-OKC maintenance team on keeping campus facilities in excellent condition. Blocker says that if you’re looking for an authentic, whimsical young adult book, Treasure of the Magical Mine Moppets is the perfect book for you. Enter a magical world where corn grows as high as the clouds, and salt can be worth more than gold.