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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Young Authors Create Lasting Work

Written by Jon Williams

Penguin Young Readers Group recently added a new author to their stable, one that you’d more likely expect to find in their target audience instead. Jake Marcionette is just thirteen years old, but his debut middle-grade novel Just Jake (written when he was twelve) will be released in February of 2014. It deals with a young protagonist’s struggle to make his way in a new school after his family moves from out of state. Plans are already in the works for more books in the series, with the second scheduled for the following February.

Authors so young are rare, but they aren’t unheard of. Here’s a look at a few other writers who have published works written in their teen years.

Alexandra Adornetto: Born in 1992 in Melbourne, Australia, to parents who were both English teachers, Alexandra discovered writing at thirteen when she needed something to occupy her time after her friends went to the beach and she wasn’t allowed to accompany them. That effort eventually became The Shadow Thief, which was published in 2007. The first in a trilogy, it was followed by The Lampo Circus (2008) and Von Gobstopper’s Arcade (2009). Now out of her teens and studying in the U.S., Alexandra’s most recent release is Heaven, the conclusion to a second trilogy of novels (which have been compared favorably to the Twilight series).

Christopher Paolini: Although Eragon wasn’t widely published until Paolini was nearly twenty, he started writing it years before, when he was fifteen (and had just graduated from high school). Originally self-published in 2002, it came to the attention of author Carl Hiaasen, who recommended it to Alfred A. Knopf. Eragon was then acquired by Random House and republished for a broader audience in 2003. It became a huge hit, spawning three sequels (Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance) and a major motion picture.

S.E. Hinton: The young adult classic The Outsiders was first conceived by Susan Hinton at 15 as a way to present the point of view of a marginalized high school subculture. Written mostly when she was sixteen, the book was published in 1967, when she was eighteen. She would go on to write a number of young adult novels, all loosely connected to The Outsiders. In 1983, the novel was adapted for film by Francis Ford Coppola, as was her later book Rumble Fish later that year. More recently, Hinton has ventured into literature more geared toward adults; her most recent novel, Hawkes Harbor, was published in 2004.

Mary Shelley: Mary Shelley (then Mary Godwin) was just eighteen when she and Percy Shelley visited Lord Byron in Switzerland. Inspired by their conversations, their reading, and the dreary weather outside, Byron challenged them all to write original supernatural tales. Thus the seed of Frankenstein was sown. It began life as a short story and then grew into the classic novel we all know today, originally published in 1918, when Shelley was 21.

The most well-known teen writer off all time, of course, is Anne Frank, who kept a diary detailing the trials and tribulations of herself and the Frank family as they lived their life in hiding from the Nazis during their occupation of the Netherlands. Anne received the diary as a gift for her thirteenth birthday in 1942, and she began writing in it two days later. Her last entry, made shortly before her family was discovered and arrested, was written August 1, 1944. Realizing the import of her situation, she wrote it as not just a diary, but as a document of the time, and it has survived as just that: a literary and historical staple read the world over. Another work, Anne Frank’s Tales from the Secret Annex, compiles Anne’s non-diary writings, comprising short stories and essays, and even the beginnings of a novel.

Fortunately, most writers—teen or otherwise—toil under circumstances far less harrowing.

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