They say that you should never judge a book by its cover because you never know what lurks beneath the surface. Freshman author, Stephanie Smallshaw knows exactly what I’m talking about. Her book, Letters Lost, is a subject in the air, ready to be taken in. I sat down with Stephanie and asked her exactly how she got started:
Judy: What’s it like to be a freshman author?
Stephanie: Well, I suppose it’s pretty exciting. Usually, when people find out that I’ve written a book, they gawk at me as though I’d sprouted another limb. But, in all truth, being an author as a freshman doesn’t really separate me from my peers. I’m still the same as I was before, just with a published book.
J: How much time did you spend writing your book?
S: I believe it took me about six months to finish writing and editing my book. The writing didn’t take very long, since I had previously written the letters in seventh grade. Editing, however, required a bit more attention. There’s really no such thing as being completely finished with a piece of writing.
J: Do/ did you pre-organize your ideas…if so, how?
S: To pre-organize my ideas, I usually begin with working out the plot. I quickly jot down the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Once I have a small paragraph written on each of those, I figure out my characters and each of their personality traits. Pre-organization definitely makes the whole writing process a lot easier.
J: What inspired you to start writing the book?
S: My first book, Letters Lost, was inspired by my seventh grade English teacher. Back when I was in seventh grade, I used to write my teacher letters that illustrated my confusion at the world and my inability to understand why bad things sometimes happened to good people. When I got into eighth grade, I decided to combine all those letters and create a book. I added in some things here and there, but most of the material originated from the letters I wrote to my teacher two years ago.
J: How did you get this book published/what programs did you use?
S: When I was ready to publish my book, I discovered a free publishing website called Createpace. Createspace had easy, step-by-step instructions that helped me self-publish my book in as little time as possible. Before making it visible to the public, I had the option of ordering a proof of my book, so I would be able to see how it would look. After approving the proof, I was able to publish my book on the Createspace online store and Amazon for free. Later on, if I want to distribute it to bookstores or libraries, I would have to pay a fee of $25. I’m still debating over whether I want to do that or not.
J: What do you want people to get from your book?
S: I want people to know that they are not alone. When they’re bullied, or when their parents separate, or when a loved one passes away, I want them to have in their heart that there are people to talk to. For me, that was my seventh grade English teacher.
J: I hear you also have a blog. What inspired you to create it?
S: When I was twelve, I had a different blog. But, when I assumed that no one read it, I closed it down. Over the summer, however, my friends had been telling me that they wanted to be able to read more of my stories. So, in an effort to keep all of my writing pieces in one spot, I created a blog and shared it with my friends and family.
J: What do you write about on your blog?
S: I find writing prompts on the Internet and then create a story based on them. They’re always fictional, and I usually like to throw in a twist at the end.
J: What are your future plans?
S: I have a few ideas down on paper, but nothing too big yet. I hope to improve on my writing as I age, and I hope to explore different topics. Right now, I’m writing a story about the Holocaust, which is a topic that interests me greatly. I’ve got the plot down, and now I just have to add in the details.