ALJ Grad Publishes First Novel

Eric Nierstedt

Eric Nierstedt

GARWOOD — Eric Nierstedt, a 2003 graduate of Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, has published his first novel, “The Lightrider Journals.”

Nierstedt grew up in Garwood, and spent his childhood absorbing every book he could get his hands on, especially the work of Stephen King. It was this love of print that made him want to become a writer. In 2008, he graduated from Kean University with a degree in English writing and earned membership in Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society. Since then, he had worked in writing for online magazine and the Westfield Leader print newspaper. Nierstedt’s work was also selected for the New Jersey Wordsmith Competition from the Unlimited Theatre Company in New Brunswick.

Book-CoverThe first part of a trilogy, “The Lightrider Journals” is the tale of Joseph Hashimoto, a man killed saving a life and reborn as the Lightrider, the leader of nine half-animal Elemental Knights, charged with keeping the balance of good and evil on Earth.

“I had the idea in my head for a long time, but I didn’t really start writing until my last English Class at Kean University,” says Nierstedt. “I wanted to tell a story that wasn’t about child wizards or romantic monsters, because they were everywhere. I used all my big influences- Terry Brooks, Stephen King, and The Dragonlance Chronicles; I also took a few elements from some unique sources, like (video game) The Legend of Zelda and (anime series) Avatar: The Last Airbender. I used the book to examine how good and evil work together and apart, and see how an adult, with his own life, would react to being thrust into the midst of cosmic battles. Those two themes are really the core of the book and I think that the latter really gives it a human edge everyone goes through in life – having to change and wanting to hold onto as much of yourself as you can. Of course, I add a lot more magic and monsters, but it’s still there.”

The Lightrider Journals” is available from iUniverse Publishing, and can be purchased through the publisher website, Barnes and Nobles, and A website,, has also been set up. On Monday, Dec. 17, Nierstedt held a book signing at the Garwood Public Library.

Nierstedt’s former English teacher, Gus Kalikas, said, “The book signing for ‘The Lightrider Journals’ was a wonderful and well attended event. It was great to see all of Eric’s hard work pay off with this novel, and I am certain that success will follow him not only with this novel, but throughout his career. Arthur L. Johnson High School is proud of Eric’s accomplishments and wishes him continued success in his writing career.”


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