Author Ally Carter, Holy Child librarian Sarah Stonesifer and author Rachel Hawkins.
Holy Child eighth grade students Caroline Holmes and Emily Travis aspire to become authors. Both started writing short stories and novels when they were much younger — and one day hope to become published. Holmes and Travis, along with their 60 Holy Child middle school classmates, had the opportunity to welcome young adult fiction writers Rachel Hawkins and Ally Carter to the Holy Child campus on Tuesday, March 13.
“Before meeting these authors, I had no idea how many drafts it took to write the perfect book,” said Caroline Holmes. “I want to be a writer, so I really enjoyed hearing what Rachel Hawkins and Ally Carter had to say.”
Emily Travis was thrilled to meet real published authors. “I was fascinated to learn that it takes them a long time to write a book. I have lots of story ideas, but it’s very frustrating trying to finish a long story. These writers were very inspiring.”
“Author Author” was arranged by Holy Child librarian Sarah Stonesifer and held on campus in the McShain Library. Hawkins and Carter discussed their career paths, how they come up with ideas for their novel series, how they develop plot and characters — and then led a question-and-answer dialogue with the students.
Carter is the author of the Gallagher Girls series which feature Cammie Morgan who attends an all-girls boarding school for “especially gifted students” — talented students who are training to be spies. The first novel of the series was “Heist Society” (2009), followed by “Uncommon Criminals” (2011). The fifth book of the series, “Out of Sight, Out of Time” was released on March 13, the same day as the presentation at Holy Child.
Hawkins is the author of the Hex Hall series — the story of teen witch Sophia Mercer who is sent to a reform school for super-natural characters. “Spell Bound” and “Hex Hall” are two of her books. “It takes me about nine months to complete a book,” said Hawkins. “I get my ideas from everywhere. When I was little, I used to make up incredible stories with a multi-plot line when I played with my Barbie Dolls. I wrote my first book at age 5 about a unicorn. I was an English teacher and noticed that my students were reading some incredible books — and I decided I needed to write one.”
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Carter said she was leading a “practical life as an agricultural economist.” However, one day she decided to stop thinking about becoming a writer — and actually do it. Carter said, “I kept sending story ideas to my agent who kept telling me to forget it. Then one day, she suggested that I should write teen stories — because I was so immature. I developed some story ideas and finally she thought one was possible. I wrote the book — and quit my day job. I am so glad I am able to follow my dream and do what I want to do. It’s wonderful to work all day on my books — and never change out of my PJ’s.”
The students queried the novelists on such topics as: “How do you know at which point to start the story?” “How is the cover created?” Do you have a favorite of all your novels?” “How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?”
The authors advised the young women that if they want to be writers, they need original ideas, they should read a lot to understand what is going on in the world and they should never judge their first efforts against completed books.
“It’s your first draft being judged against someone else’s final draft.” Carter said, “It’s like turning on a hose that has been sitting there for six months. You’ve got to let the water run for awhile before you get clean water. At first, it is murky, tainted and pretty nasty. Your first drafts are the dirty part that first comes out of the hose. After you write and re-write- and continue to revise, your story will become fresh, sparkling and pure. You are never really finished re-writing — until you know that you have done your best and that’s all you can do.”