Literary festival hosts WSU grad, other Kansas authors

Armand Fruge originally enrolled at Wichita State undecided on a major to pursue.

It was not until midway through his sophomore year that he started studying English with the goal of becoming an author.

Now, the 2011 graduate has a published work to his name: “The Dream Collector,” a children’s book with the message that kids should always follow their dreams and do what they love. After a year of work, it was released in late September.

Fruge is one of several Kansas authors whose work will be showcased at the Writers of the Wheat Literary Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on the second floor of the Rhatigan Student Center.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Wichita Children’s Home.

Fruge said his education at WSU was valuable for his career from a networking perspective.

“I had a lot of great professors and met a lot of interesting people, a lot of like-minded people,” Fruge said. “I enjoyed my time at WSU.”

His 2-year-old son inspired him to write “The Dream Collector.” Fruge finds inspiring children to pursue their dreams rewarding.

“That’s something I stand by,” he said. “I always work hard to try to achieve my goals, pursue my dreams and find happiness.”

Fruge said children’s books are usually 30 to 40 pages long. Given the differences in reading comprehension and attention span between children and older audiences, he said writing for younger audiences provides unique challenges.

“When you’re writing a novel, you have a lot of pages and a lot of time to develop your characters and get your story together,” Fruge said. “[Writing a children’s book] is just as challenging, I believe.”

Meanwhile, Thaddeus Nowak, a festival volunteer and attendee, said she looks forward to meeting other Kansas authors.

“Authors that are part of a community tend to be more successful than others who are always by themselves,” Nowak said. “It’s fun to talk to people who have experienced similar things.”

Nowak works as a database administrator in Lansing and has published four novels in the “Heirs of Cothel” fantasy series.

He had a simple piece of advice for aspiring authors.

“Practice and perseverance,” Nowak said. “Sticking with it and continuing to do it even when it’s difficult, and eventually it becomes easier.”

Fruge, on the other hand, maintained the importance of networking at school.

“Make relationships with professors and other students,” Fruge said. “You never know how it could help you.”

Fruge has read his book to his son many times, and even got to read it to second and third graders at his old elementary school. He said that experience was gratifying.

“It definitely makes it worth it,” Fruge said. “It’s really a special experience to be able to share the story with other children, kids who all have their own dreams and goals.”

Fruge has never been a part of something like the Writers of the Wheat festival, but he said it will be great to meet with fellow authors and readers at WSU.

“It’s great to be able to represent my alma mater and represent my hometown,” Fruge said. “I really just try to share my story, make a difference and inspire.”