PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - A Pike County veteran's tour in Iraq helped him write a childrens' book.
Christopher Epling says he began writing the book as a way to keep his mind focused on something positive after facing many obstacles.
It came out of hard times and tragedy.
"I went through a lot during the period of when the book was being created. I lost my mom. I lost my brother. I just got back from war," said Epling.
He said drawing is something he has done since he was little, but writing a book came as somewhat of a surprise. It began during his time in the Army.
He said when he was in Iraq the soldiers frequently had children coming up to them, and one day it got him thinking.
"On this particular day a large group came and, I don't know, it started me, caused me to think about home, about my own childhood. So I immediately started writing down the story in my journal over there," he said.
And through his war journal came the story of Erby, a Polliwog who runs away and has to find his way home.
"God is amazing. I believe that it was through him giving me this talent of drawing, he gave me something to do, keep my hands busy, my mind busy," said Epling.
Ever since they got the book several weeks ago, Pikeville librarians say they have had trouble keeping it on the shelves.
"From the day they brought it in it was always checked out," said Librarian Charlene Hopkins.
She has known Epling's family her whole life and said she is very proud.
"Bruce and I are real proud of Chris and his works, and we wish him nothing but the best," she said.
Epling said telling Erby's story helped him cope with his own.
"Out of a really dark period in my life something positive came out of it and I'm thankful for it," he said.
He plans to keep drawing.
You can order a copy of "Erby's Turn to Rake" on Epling's website: www.christopherepling.com