Story last updated at 1/14/2009 - 10:53 am
EAGLE RIVER - Ask Chugiak High School sophomore Nicole Warner what she wants to be when she grows up and she'll tell you a marine biologist. But before that she is tackling the world of literature. She had her first novel published and released in November.
"Keeping Kaya: Book of Judan" is the first of a four book fantasy series that follows the struggles of a family that has been banished from its homeland.
Nicole began working on the novel when she was in seventh grade at Gruening Middle School.
"I was just writing because it is something that I enjoy," she said. "And the story started out completely different."
The writing she did as an outlet grew into a 147-page Microsoft Word document on her computer. That's when she realized that there was something more to the tale she had crafted than just ramblings from an adolescent want-to-be author.
"There were a couple occasions when we had to pull her away from the computer to get her to spend time with the family," said her mother Janet Warner. "But writing is what she does, it's like other kids playing a sport or something."
Nicole made her debut as a published author Dec. 20 with a pair of book signings as Jitters and the Book Shelf.
"I was surprised by the response from the community," she said. "I didn't think there would be as much interest in what I had wrote as there has been. It's really encouraging."
Nicole dedicated the book to her sixth grade writing teacher and to her eighth grade teacher Beth Lynch, along with Karly Matson, Jessica Imler, Mackenzie Austin, Jacob Gershel, Stephanie Rader and the rest of fifth period Language Arts class who listened and supported her while she developed the story.
"This story would not be alive without you," she wrote in her dedication.
Writing the story was the easy part for Nicole; getting it published proved to be the demanding task.
"It took more than a year to get it published," she said. "Most of that was my fault for dragging it out."
The first publishing house she approached with the book rejected her.
"They catered more toward established authors and weren't to interested in a young first-time author," she said. "But Author House Publishing was eager to work with me."
As for the future, Nicole is already working with Author House on the second book of the series and is busy writing the third.
"Writing is something I've been into since kindergarten," she said. "I'm not sure if I will pursue it as a career or if I will study science. But once I started the journey of this book series I'm determined to see it through."
When she is not busy writing, Nicole occupies herself with music, playing the guitar, singing in the school choir and composing original songs.
Nicole's book is available online at BarnesandNoble.com or at AuthorHouse.com. The 297-page paperback sells for $15.95.
"I've also got several copies in the back of my mom's car if anyone wants one," she said. "Plus the sight of four boxes stacked up in my room is pretty sobering for a first time author. But people are buying them."
Reach Darrell L. Breese at firstname.lastname@example.org.