Publishing a book is a dream for many adults across the nation, and in the Santa Clarita Valley, two authors are part of a growing generation of younger writers sharing their stories.
Eighth-grader Samantha Egan wrote “Zurcon,” which is now available on Amazon, after drawing a sketch of a young girl named Icda, who would eventually become the main character of Egan’s book.
“I couldn’t get her out of my mind, and there was something about her that made me want to pursue a book,” Egan said. So much so that she decided to get a notebook one day and jot down ideas for the character.
“Most of it came from my head because I wanted Icda to build herself up and find the confidence to accept herself,” Egan said, mentioning how she views Icda as some of the students at her school because they dont always accept themselves for who they really are. “Sometimes, people will change to fit in or to be trendy, but I think it’s important for you to accept who you are, because that what makes you, you and unique.”
After completing about four chapters of the book, Egan said she met with a group called the Young Author Society at the Santa Clarita Valley Education Center, which provided her with mentors and other resources necessary to publish the book.
“They helped us during the process of the book and showed us what and what not to put in it,” she said. “It really helped me a lot.”
Like Egan’s book, Ali Rae’s story — “The Past is a Place in California” — is entirely fictional, “And it reads like a complex poem rather than a plot-driven book, because it focuses on the protagonist’s internal dialogue, rather than what’s going on around her,” Rae said. “Thematically, it’s definitely a coming-of-age story, because that’s the primary journey you’re going on with the protagonist … Her growing up and the challenges that come along with that.”
Rae began writing her book almost two years before it was released on Amazon in May, and she said there were songs she listened to that inspired the story, so music is very much a part of it. The Master’s University alum even scripted a playlist for readers to listen to while they enjoy the book.
“It’s also very much based on setting and location, because I think I was really inspired by growing up and going to school and college in California,” Rae said, before describing the publishing process.
“I did pretty much 100% of everything myself — publishing, the website, formatting the chapters and fonts, taking the photos … all of it,” Rae said. “I wanted to make sure I had the final say in everything, so it could come out how I wanted it to,” which is partly why she chose to self-publish.
“I also did it while I was working and finishing up college,” Rae said, adding, “I’m very much a perfectionist so I read back through it so many times that I was sick and ready to be done with it. But it was a labor of love.”
Egan added a love for writing is one of the key qualities to have if one is to become an author.
“Having a big imagination is key, but it’s also about having the passion and dream to write,” Egan said. “That’s all you need in life and then all you have to do is write how you feel.”
Rae agreed, explaining how she was so eager to write that she started her next novel before she even finished writing, “The Past is a Place in California”.
The self-published author said she hopes her second book will be released through a publishing house sometime in the next year.
Egan said she also hopes to publish another book in the near future.
“It felt really good to know that I started from just writing in a notebook to having my book published on Amazon,” she said. “I actually thought about becoming a writer ever since I started drafting the notebook, because I felt like there’s something about writing that doesn’t compare to any of my other hobbies. I always felt like I could express myself better with words and have people relate to them as well.”
Rae said other prospective authors who call the SCV home should continue following their dream and offered some advice on how to follow through on their aspirations.
“Work harder and spend more time alone,” Rae said, adding, “You have to spend time on your project (even though) it may seem like you’re missing out on stuff, but once you hold that book in your hand that you wrote — that you did yourself — it’s more than worth it.
“Another thing is read all the time,” Rae said. “Classics, comics, whatever, (because) the more I read, I find the better my writing is.”
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