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The Dec. 10 publication of his debut novel, the sci-fi adventure "MainFrame- Beginnings," was the culmination of balancing studying for his pharmacy degree and writing a full-length novel.

"It's a hard balance," Wiltz said. "There are times when pharmacy school is more important, and there are times when writing is more important."

Wiltz -- a Morehead scholar and a contributor to Bounce magazine -- puts his efforts into pharmacy for several reasons. "I really enjoy the sciences a lot, which is probably why I write science fiction," he said. "I also didn't want to put all of my eggs in one basket."

This practicality hasn't stifled his imagination, as Wiltz's sci-fi novel isn't all aliens and starships. "The emphasis is on the team -- MainFrame -- how they go together as a team, their camaraderie and how they grow together as a family," he said.

Nevermind that this family is a group of anthropomorphic animals who battle the evils of a zealous terrorist organization and try to save the planet Pellicia.

Wiltz honed his talents writing short stories and took his cues from sci-fi icons like Isaac Asimov and Octavia Barnes. "I grew up reading whatever I could get my hands on, but I always liked high adventure," he said.

His long adventure writing "MainFrame- Beginnings" began Jan. 5, 1999. It became a true labor for him, but one based in his strong convictions and love for the story.

"It was a story I had to write. At the time, the themes that were in the book I felt strongly about and decided to do something about it," he said.

But while the book's beginnings seem an inevitable effort, its execution was much more difficult. "Part of the challenge of writing in this genre is you have to make up all of the details of the world -- culture, problems, history," he said.

The completion of the novel did not come for two years because of what he called "not consistent writing."

After quickly being published by the Xlibris Corp. due to its timely content, the book has garnered a reaction from friends and family that Wiltz has thoroughly enjoyed. "Everybody has been really excited. I just got done letting my dad read it, and he said he really enjoyed it," he said.

Now that his first novel has been completed, Wiltz says he is far from finished with his already long relationship with writing. "I have tons of stories, and every once in a while, I get to tell them. I have a file on my computer that is filled with ideas, lines that have sparked a story and thoughts."

In the meantime, Wiltz plans to keep his options open. "I think I will go where the story takes me," he said. "There is always a Plan B, and if that is pharmacy or writing, I leave that to a higher power to decide."

Whether his future lies in pharmacy or as an author, Wiltz remains humble and plans to remember the real reasons he wrote "MainFrame- Beginnings."

"I didn't write this to take over the world, to be the next whatever -- I wrote this to be me."

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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