Amazon.com wanted to find the next breakthrough novelist. So the company created a contest with thousands of entries from all over the world. But as it turned out, that breakthrough novelist ended up being right in Amazon's own backyard.
Filling a well-worn leather chair, in a window, on a laptop, Alan Averill fills the screen with his imagination. He is in his element.
This is the story of a now storied writer. Alverill has always loved books.
"My favorite toys were books because I just read all the time," he said.
His "toys" now take up a good part of his small home: bookshelves, the bathroom, even behind the couch. Making room for his hobby quite suddenly has become his livelihood.
Three years ago Alan quit his day job playing games at Nintento and started playing around with a story he had in his mind called "The Beautiful Land."
"There's a Japanese-American guy and his name is Tak O'Leary and he goes to work for a company that invented a time machine. And he finds out the company is going to use the time machine to overwrite our current reality," described Alverill.
And as he wrote it, and as he wife read it, he knew he had something.
"Oh I shopped it everywhere - everywhere," he said.
But it was going nowhere.
"So I Googled 'novel writing contest' and then this popped up and I was like, 'Hey! It's a novel writing contest!'"
Out of 5,000 entries to Amazon contest, Alverill was a finalist. A copy of his manuscript was signed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos himself.
Then came the waiting game, which included lots of video games - until a phone call a few days ago, informing him he'd won!
"It's something I've tried to do for so long is get something published. And to have it happen in a night, where they get you up behind a podium and hand you an award. It's like, 'Hey, guess what. You have not wasted 36 years of your life,'" recalls Averill.
Reality in his once-fantasy world is still sinking in for Alverill.
"It's a real honest to God book! Oh I'm so excited, I'm just, yeah!" he said.
As the grand prize winner in the general fiction category, Alverill won a publishing contract from Penguin Group that includes a $15,000 dollar advance.
To pre-order a copy of "The Beautiful Land," visit www.amazon.com/abna.
The book is due out next year.