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Former Aloha pilot earns writing wings

His daughter's simple question helped inspire the author to pen "The Icicle Story" for the iPhone

By Nina Wu

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:24 p.m. HST, Aug 05, 2011

Michael Stiber sat down and wrote "The Icicle Story" three years ago after his daughter Larissa, now 8, asked him a question about frozen water bottles. The story was turned into an app that can be downloaded to an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Former Aloha Airlines pilot Michael A. Stiber, 42, never knew he was a writer. But he's been published — on iPhone, that is.

Stiber's first children's book, "The Icicle Story," was produced as an iPhone app, complete with a professional narrator, unique animation and an original music score by Makana.

The idea for the story was sparked one day when Stiber's daughter, Larissa, put a bottle of water in the freezer and asked the next day how to get it out to drink.

"I just laughed and said, ‘We don't have to do anything. We just let it be,'" said Stiber.

It was 2008, about a month after Aloha Airlines had shut down, and Stiber lost his job as a pilot.

The frozen water bottles got him thinking about the transformative nature of water and the natural cycles of life.

He sat down and penned "The Icicle Story" in the next two weeks, although the entire process of getting the app up, complete with animation and music, took a year and a half. The app was launched in 2010.

The story line of "The Icicle Story," is simple: There are two icicle friends, one old and one young.

The young icicle has its own ambitions in life, and one day the pair gets separated. As the young icicle grows, it becomes more like the old icicle as part of the cycle of life.

The story is part philosophical, with the intention of passing on some life lessons about friendship, growth and the fragile nature of life.

"It doesn't matter what we do," said Stiber. "We should be respected and admired for who we are inside. It's just about being and appreciating without doing anything."

Having focused so much on the right brain (science and math) growing up, with the goal of becoming a pilot, Stiber admits that writing and art (left-brain activities) took a back seat.

It was only after Aloha Airlines shut down that he sat down and began to explore the other side of his brain.

While other pilots were heading to China and the Middle East for job opportunities, Stiber wanted to stay home to be close to his daughter, Larissa, then 5.

He had flown for eight years for Aloha Airlines and, before that, nine years for the Navy.

Stiber was also going through a divorce at the time.

"I wasn't willing to give up spending time with her to go fly in the Middle East," he said. "She taught me how to live, laugh and love again. She brought out my heart."

So with his newfound downtime, he decided to "dust off that other side of my brain." He considers "The Icicle Story" a labor of love.

Larissa, now 8, helped draw and color the illustrations in the story.

While Stiber was considering going down the more traditional path to publishing a children's story, or self-publishing, he became intrigued when he learned of the iPhone's possibilities.

"It was brand-new territory," he said. "I thought, ‘Wow, this is cool.' Instead of chopping down trees and all the fuel spent around the world, you can replicate it at no extra cost, and you can download it instantly."

It also opened new avenues as an author, he found, with the option of adding animation, narration and music.

"It's cool when you see this technology and take a traditional children's book and now you can add so many layers of depth to it," he said. "This is just the beginning. Imagine in five to 10 years what kids are going to have access to."

Eventually he created his own publishing company, Crystal Lantern LLC, in 2009 to launch the story and create future stories.

Stiber's already working on a second and third story, including a continuation of the Humpty Dumpty rhyme, as well as a cartoon called "Monkey Business."

But he hasn't ruled out flying again, either.

"The Icicle Story" is available from Apple's iTunes for 99 cents at itunes.apple.com/app/id372404504. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Visit theiciclestory.com for more information.






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