It would seem unexpected for a 12-year-old to have written and published a novel. Xlibris Author Grace Simmons defies this common notion, having completed her first mystery novel Unexpected published by Xlibris in December 2012. The title couldn’t have been more appropriate.
The Xlibris Blog is thankful to one of our youngest talents for gracing our authors’ nook with her presence and sharing her remarkable writing and self-publishing experience. Needless to say, we are very proud to herald her achievement to the entire Xlibris online community.
A World Fashioned from Her Imagination
Grace’s pure innocence radiates in her literary intention: to share a significant experience to readers regardless of fame.
The story of how this all happened began with me; a girl who just wanted to let her story be heard. It was a simple dream. I didn’t publish my book because I was hoping to be famous; I did it because I wanted to share the world I created with others.
My novel begins with Sally Jenkins, a relatively normal girl, whose life gets turned upside down in a flash of light. She meets seven other kids with the same peculiar ability she discovered she possessed. She goes on a journey, and forges strong friendships that would’ve never happened if they hadn’t been thrown together. They’re faced with many hard choices, and conflicts within the group, but at the end of the day they realize if they’re going to make it out alive, they’re going to have to trust each other.
Taking Readers to Her ‘World’
I tried to make my characters come to life on the page. I wanted the reader to see what my characters saw, feel the pain they were feeling, and grieve like they lost a close friend when they died.
I’m naturally quiet and observant, so it wasn’t hard for me to pick up on how people interact differently depending on whom it is they’re communicating with, and how personalities clash. I even read my mom’s psychology textbook to gain insight into how people would normally react to high pressure situations. I wanted each of my characters to stand out, and be unpredictable because that’s how people really are in the real world. The first part was the trickiest because of the amount of characters I had. My novel is told in multiple points of view, which I think allows the reader to establish a personal connection with the characters, since they have a VIP pass into their thoughts, so it was difficult giving all of them some “screen time”, as I’d like to call it.
Writing Quirks, Literary Influences
I got writers block often, possibly because of my lack of planning before writing. I’d just put pen to paper and write, and I wouldn’t stop until I ran out of ideas, or wrote myself into a corner, which I also tended to do often. When this happened I would usually take a break from writing altogether, or reread what I’d already written. The last one would usually give me a better sense of where to take the story next.
I’ve always loved reading; the library was always my second home. It was the ideal environment for anyone to be flooded with ideas; Quiet, spacious, and filled with books. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I rarely find a time when I’m in between books. If I had to pick my favorite author it would be J.K Rowling because Harry Potter was the book that made me believe in magic.
I didn’t really get the idea for my novel from one source; it was sort of a chaotic mix of every book, TV show, and movie I ever watched, so there’s a little splash of everything in there, but I especially drew inspiration from Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series to add my spin of mythology into my book, even though it’s a fantasy book you wouldn’t really be able to tell from reading the first few paragraphs. Since I’m a fan of Poe I’ve always had a flair for mystery, so I decided to incorporate that into it. Overall, I just tried to create a book I’d want to read.
And She Soldiers On
I tried to write a novel before, and it well . . . crashed and burned. I wrote myself into a corner, but I was determined not to make the same mistake this time around. I decided to write a novel as a personal challenge of sorts for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November 2011. I carried a notebook around with me everywhere in case inspiration struck. Every free second I had was spent furiously scribbling in one of my notebooks with my horrible handwriting. I tried typing what I wrote down for the day, but I couldn’t keep up, and this resulted in me having to type 300 notebook pages in a month.
Deciding to Self-Publish
I always wanted to write a book, and I figured why wait when I could do it now. When I told my parents that I wanted to publish a novel, they were a bit skeptical that I would actually go through with it because it wasn’t exactly the first time I said I’d finish a personal project and it ended up abandoned, never to be completed.
Her Writing Advice
My advice to any aspiring writers is to keep on writing; practice makes perfect. Your first draft isn’t going to automatically be a New York Times Bestseller, but that’s okay. You’ll have plenty of time to edit and revise it later, once you finish writing it. That’s the hardest part in my opinion.
Hats off to you, Grace Simmons for going against the grain and pursuing your literary dream! We definitely look forward to seeing more of your rich imagination in print!