Tuesday, March 18, 2014
18-Year-Old Writer Kieryn Nicolas - Writes a Novel at 14, Publishes Her First Novel at 15,
Christal Cooper – 1,437 Words
*Original article appeared in the Asian American Times in November 2010. The article has been updated for this blog.
Kieryn Nicolas’ debut novel Rain was published in May of 2010 by Echelon Press (http://www.echelonpress.com) and has been successful, which is a rarity considering Nicolas was only 14 years old when she wrote the novel in just one draft with revisions to complete.
She received an invitation from a publisher to read her work and ever since she has been a paid fiction writer who insists on brilliance when it comes to her writing.
“There are two main types of brilliance that pertain to writing: brilliant ideas and brilliant wording. The thing I love about words and stories and writers is this: the best writers have both. And on top of that the best speeches, and therefore the best speakers, have both, too.”
Nicolas remembers her first attraction with those brilliant words and ideas: she was only four years old when she began writing.
“I remember drawing and writing in an old journal my mom gave me when I was four. I’ve always wanted to write, but in the fifth grade I decided I wanted to be an author.”
Before she could become an author she became an avid and voracious reader. Some novels she has more than one copy of: for example, three copies of Pride And Prejudice; two copies of An Old Fashioned Girl, Jayne Eyre, and Wuthering Heights; one copy of Sense & Sensibility and Little Women. Nicolas admits in her blog that reading is not always a pleasurable or easy thing to do.
“I’d need hours to just sit and read (Jane Austin book’s) and decode sentences, and those kinds of hours became increasing sparse as I got to the age where I would feel inclined to read those kinds of books. I mean, being totally honest, I want to put them through a sifter. Just to get rid of excess words that confuse me.”
Nicolas knew the importance of reading, the importance of understanding different aspects of reading a novel. It wasn’t until she read A Tale Of Two Cities that she learned how to enjoy reading a classical novel.
“For the first few chapters of “A Tale Of Two Cities” I felt like I was drowning in half-a-page-long sentences, but then I started to get a feel for the characters, understand who they are, and their role in the story. I started to piece together plot threads and hints and foreshadowing and symbols and social commentary and suddenly the book was so much easier to read.”
The young protégé gets her ides from watching other people and from her surroundings: she lives in a rural area with her parents, younger sister, yellow lab, black cat, and ten hens.
“We don’t have neighbors right next to us and we are surrounded by fields and a forest on the mountain behind the house.”
While in 8th grade, Nicolas would take advanced classes, come home, spend time with family, do her homework, and then, when everyone else was asleep, would write at least one hour per day.
“I write mostly in my room late at night. I sit at my desk with my laptop and write until I can’t keep my eyes open. I used to listen to music when I write, but now I just put headphones/ear buds on and leave it silent. It helps me block out sound so I can focus more on what’s going on inside my head.”
The idea for Rain came to her in a dream.
“I had a very bizarre dream about spies, Australia and friendship. The rest was a result of brainstorming the next morning.”
After brainstorming, she found herself captivated by a world of her own making: a world where babies and children are sent to a special school not to learn spelling or writing, but to learn how to become spies.
Six months and many revisions later her novel was finished. And then she met Karen, the CEO of Echelon Press.
“I met Karen at a writer’s conference in 8th grade. After we talked for a few minutes she requested I send her my manuscript. I did, and a few months later I was offered a contract. After that it was editing, editing, and then formatting, the eBook release, and finally the paperback.”
Nicolas was not at her house when the boxes of her book arrived. But her mother was and she, along with Nicolas’ friends set up a huge surprise for the new young novelist.
“On Tuesday my friend Katie's mom picked Katie and me up at school. We, along with Katie's sister Sarah -drove to my house because Katie's mom had to "pick something up. When we got to my house I saw the garage--my normal method of entry was closed, so we had to walk around front. The first thing I saw was my mom standing in front of it, phone out, ready to take pictures. That's when I saw the boxes stacked on the patio. I knew what they were immediately, and felt myself stumble backwards. Mom got a few good pictures of me with my hands on my head staring with eyes wider than Bambi's.”
One of the traits that make her novel stick out is not only three-dimensional characters but also the dialogue, which is described as crafty at the very least; but her favorite part of writing is when she is inside the character’s mind.
“If I had to choose another favorite thing about Rain, or my writing in general, it would be writing the scenes/moments where my main character is unsure of herself/himself. I’m inside my character’s head, so I can make the scene as crazy and confusing as I want to reflect the emotions the character feels, and that’s fun.”
She modeled Mel/Amber, the main character of the book after her own self.
“She’s a bit like I was in elementary school – bold, stubborn, contrary, and such a tomboy.”
Instead of eating candy, popcorn, or chocolate, Mel thrives on granola bars. Instead of dreaming to go to the high school dance, Mel dreams of becoming the best spy she ever could be; even better than James Bond.
The novel starts when Mel is 15 years old, in its wonderful monologue and then in Chapter 1 backtracks five years where Mel first meets Ray/Anthony.
“I’m not sure where Ray came from: maybe a mix of my friends of the male persuasion, because they all have their respective awesome traits.”
There are also Mel’s friends, some annoying some quite likable.
“Caidy is a funny story. I have a good friend named Katie, but when I first met Katie (and while I was writing Rain) I didn’t like Katie. So I based a character off of her. I laugh now, looking back on it, because it made it so much fun to write.”
The editing process for Nicolas was not always fun: she had to delete many things; some things she felt were important.
If she could make any changes it would be to revise the story line of Mel and Ray’s relationship, which hints at the romantic. She would also write more action-sequence scenes for Mel.
Nicolas has many ideas for novels, including a sequel to Rain, specifically focusing on Mel and Ray.
“I do have a sequel storyboarded, but I’m not sure if I will finish it. I feel like Rain ended on a good note for now. However, Mel is one of my absolutely favorite characters to write, so there is a chance I’ll revisit the idea.”
Photo Description and Copyright Info
Jacket cover of Rain.
Web logo for Echelon Press
January 28, 1813 jacket cover of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. T Egerton Whitehall Press
Illustration from An Old Fashioned Girl by Louise May Alcott. Roberts Brothers 1870.
Jacket cover of Jayne Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Publication date 1847.
Jacket cover of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. 1847.
1813 jacket cover of Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen. Thomas Egerton Military Library.
Two volumes of Little Women by Louise May Alcott. Roberts Brothers Press, 1868.
Cover of serial "Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens
Kieryn Nicolas holding Rain
Kieryn Nicolas holding Rain
Jacket cover of Rain
Echelon Press logo
Jacket cover of Rain
Kieryn Nicolas with her celebration cake of Rain’s publication.
Kieryn Nicolas photo.
Jacket cover of the first James Bond Novel Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. 1953.
Kieryn Nicolas photo.