Sixteen and Published: Being an Author in High School

2 mins read

Junior Eimile Briggs and senior Hayley Yu are two of the few authors publishing their novels while still in high school. Their book “Runners” focuses on a group of three runaway teenagers escaping from a laboratory in a fictional universe. As the novel progresses, all three protagonists learn to cope with their super-human abilities and plot to overthrow the laboratory they escaped from.

The inspiration behind their novel came from a childhood game they played with their siblings. However, it was not until the sixth grade that they decided to begin writing down their story.“We both thought it would last for a month at the most,” said Yu. “And now it’s over 800 pages double-spaced!” Through the help of the Young Inklings program and an encouraging English teacher, the two co-authors began sculpting their novel, ultimately completing it a year later.

“We always planned on publishing,” Briggs commented. At first, the authors sent their manuscript to multiple publishing agencies. However, after the companies wanted their book significantly shortened, they decided to self-publish. “We didn’t want to shorten our book to meet someone else’s standards,” Briggs added. Currently their novel is still in the publishing process, with a professional artist designing the cover. Once the story gets printed, they plan to make the book available online, as well as in paperback.

For Briggs, fantasy had always been her go-to genre, for both reading and writing. Novels such as “Lord of the Rings,” “The Host,” and “Harry Potter” inspired her to create her own stories beginning in the fourth grade. “Reality is just boring. It gives you a call, you gotta grow up. But with fantasy, you don’t have to. When you create your own reality in your book, you don’t have to have any rules,” she replied with a smile. Briggs explained that the most difficult part of writing was actually finishing the book and completing the filler scenes between the action. However, the two friends motivated each other and finished their book after a year of writing. Briggs’ favorite part of the story is when the secluded character, Kat Sanders, begins to open up and trust the other girls in the book.

Yu began writing in the third grade, using her dreams and vivid imagination as inspiration for her stories. “Sometimes I’m just watching a TV show and I’m like ‘Oh hey if I did that, it would be really cool,’ and I’ll just sit down and write,” she laughed. Yu commented that the best part of sculpting their novel was the writing process in general, and watching the characters evolve throughout the story. Her character, the pyromaniac technological genius, Natalie Grey, contrasts Briggs’ cold and ill-mannered character, Cat. Writing the character of Cat was quite difficult, as sometimes the co-authors “would make her too nice, and had to go back and change it,” said Yu. As a senior at M-A, Yu plans to study psychology in college, which she says is beneficial for figuring out the personality of the characters. Although she will be graduating in 2017, she is determined to keep in touch with Briggs and continue writing over the internet.

The best advice Yu has for aspiring authors is to “just keep writing.” She added, “If you want to write the story, write it.” Briggs recommends getting other people to edit the story first and then trying traditional publishing. If the publishing company wants to change the story in a way that would take away from the idea of the book, then Briggs recommends self-publishing. “People will buy it if they want to read it. It’s the best way to get your story out there.” The co-authors plan to continue writing stories together throughout college, and are already working on another book series, independent from their first novel.

Check out the first chapter of “Runners.”

Hi, my name is Lynn Butzlaff. I am a junior at M-A and this is my first year working on the Chronicle. I've always loved writing; I enjoy crafting my own narratives and am excited that journalism provides the opportunity to share others' stories. Besides writing, my other hobbies include skiing and horseback riding.

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