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Pen to Paper to Published

The Road Map of Publishing a Book in High School
Hannah Stine

Did you know that S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was just 16? If you’re unfamiliar with that book, maybe you’ve read Eragon of The Inheritance Cycle, worked on by Chrisopher Paolini when he was 15, or The Prophecy of the Stones by Flavia Bujor, who wrote her book at the age of 12 (INSIDER). If you don’t recognize any of the books or authors, that’s OK. Although they’re well-known, that doesn’t mean everyone knows them, and the important thing is the numbers that follow along after the names. These teen digits represent their age when they started their books, showing that all of them were in their high school years when they wrote them. They are among the many (often unrecognized) teenage authors.

The names and book titles above were within the 500,000 to one million new books that come out each year (TONER BUZZ). The Outsiders was published in 1967 when S.E. Hinton was 18, and both Eragon and The Prophecy of the Stones were published in 2002, when Paolini was 19 and Bujor was 14 (INSIDER). I would like to add a more recent book to the list. Camp Eden, written by Tuscarora student Evangeline Gaughf, was published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in 2023 when she was 15.

Gauhf started writing a series in 8th grade, and Camp Eden is the first of the three to get out in the reading system. “It’s about this assassin who is in this place called Camp Eden which is basically this institution where the assassins are trained and then they get sent on missions… It’s about one of her missions that… went wrong,” Gaughf explains. The cover of the book was designed by Gaughf’s aunt, who created it based on the main character of Camp Eden and the surroundings in the story.

Taking inspiration from her mom, who is an author herself, Gaughf decided to start on her books because, “I was bored and I had nothing to do, and so I just started writing for fun. And I actually enjoyed it so I continued to do it.” Before, her only other interaction with writing had been in English essays, and she brazenly admits that “…none of them were fun…” She adds, “When I actually tried writing in a format that I actually enjoyed, I realized that I like writing and that it’s not just boring and busy work.”

Gaughf was also deeply motivated to write after she read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, a book of a similar fantasy-action genre. Readers often describe books as an escape from reality, and Gaughf accords, “I like reading fantasy and fiction because… I enjoy the… escape from the real world stuff and it ties into my story because it’s… in a fantasy setting and it’s… not present day and there’s no… real world problems… of today. And it’s just a nice breath of fresh air from what is happening now,” Gaughf expresses.

Writing a book is certainly no “breath of fresh air” when considering the challenges that come along with it. Gaughf describes her prime nemesis when writing her book, writer’s block, as, “Not being able to get your ideas out and… It’s just not working. Like nothing you’re writing feels right.” Most, if not all, writers experience this, which puts a hold on the entire process. Even with this burden, Gaughf managed to write Camp Eden in a year. She remarks, “I’m a very creative person and if I can write down all of the stories that I have in my head and like create something out of it… It’s very fun to do.”

Gaughf believes that story writing is important and wrote her book as a sort of reflection off of her experience with Throne of Glass. She was kindled by that book and wrote a book because she was inspired by it. Her reasoning behind writing her book is much the same: inspiration. She says, “I feel like if people read my story that I wrote at like 13-15 years… All three books I’ve written I started… 8th grade. And it’s published now, they’ll be like “maybe I can do something like that” and it will be… inspiring.”

Writing a book is entirely worth the cost, and the publication of the book is even sweeter. “I was completely shocked,” Gaughf relays. “Even when I was signing, I was like, is this real? This is not actually published, is it?” Even though writing comes with many obstacles, some that come with the territory like writer’s block, and others that don’t, she encourages everyone to share their own stories “…if they have them, one, and if it’s something that they enjoy. Because it’s very fulfilling to be like ‘I published a book!’”

As a want-to-be writer and a self-proclaimed bibliophile myself, I believe that some writers have a book they’ve been, in a sense, “given” to write. If it ends up being a popular book, kudos to you, but even if it only reaches one or two eyes, it’s the impact that counts. So the takeaway is this: If you have a story, don’t give up no matter the obstacles and writer’s block that get in your way. Stories need to be told. Go check out other books written by young authors, but don’t miss the books published after many years of toil, tears and trouble. If the end of your story wraps back to the beginning, take that page proudly from S. E. Hinton who wrote The Outsiders when she was just 16.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Stine, Staff Writer
Hannah is a sophomore at Tuscarora HIgh School, and this is her first year on the newspaper team as a Staff Writer. She has played volleyball for NVVA since 5th grade. In her free time she's either reading, drawing, writing, or tackling an overload of homework.

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