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Kid authors: A quick guide

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Saturday, Jul 14, 2007

New day, new kid author receives book deal. What is in the cordial? Ever since The Guardian remarked on 11-year-old Nancy Yi Fan’s book deal with HarperCollins, I’ve been noticing more and more new authors with ones at the start of their ages.


This should be disconcerting, but, weirdly, I find it a tiny bit exciting. Super-kids are popping up all over the place—that means kids are reading, right? That means hope is not lost for a Generation Z Catcher in the Rye. It’s on the cards, I can feel it. And so, today we take a brief look at the teenage writers making literary waves across the world.


NANCY YI FAN
Yi Fan shone on Al Roker’s Book Club for Kids segment on Friday’s Today Show. Her Swordbird is Roker’s new club selection, and Yi Fan explained on the show how the book is a fantastical response to global terrorism enacted by warring birds. Yi Fan explains Swordbird‘s inspiration on Today‘s website:


“In school, I was learning about the American Revolution and terrorist attacks. One night, I had a dream about cardinals and blue jays fighting, and of a huge white magical bird. When I woke up, I started writing a story about them to express the importance of peace and freedom.”


Yi Fan wound up with a publishing deal after simply emailing the Swordbird manuscript to HarperCollins chief exec, Jane Friedman. Yi fan was born in China in 1993, and has lived in the US for five years. One of her favourite books is Night by Elie Wiesel. SwordQuest, a prequel to Swordbird, will be out soon.


CHRIS THURSFIELD
Thursfield is the granddad of this bunch at 18. His Life’s Cruel Lesson is available on Lulu.com, and is inspired by Tolkien and Philip Putman. The book is about a brother and sister who must decide how to move on after uncovering potentially dangerous family secrets. Thursfield told the UK Gazette that he opted to self-publish because he “wanted to have something I’d created made into a book.” I’m betting Thursfield gets picked up by a major publisher soon. The teen author trend is simply too hot right now, and Thursfield has an added grabber—he’s actually related to his idol, Mr. Tolkien.


MAY ZHEE
Sixteen-year-old May Zhee is the author of teen-chick-lit novels Vanitee Bee and Sweetheart From Hell. Zhee is wild-spirited, and may prove the dark horse as far as staying power goes. Check out her precocious and hilarious blog at mayzhee.blogspot.com. Here’s a sample:


“I have a phobia of balls, rubber bands and guitar strings (on top of tampons and staining myself, of course). All for the same reason: They might hurt my precious face and I would have to pay thousands for plastic surgery. Not to mention my parents will bury me alive after that because I stole their money for surgery.”


This is a girl who revels in her girl-ness. Her books are self-published as well, but the big shots can’t be far away—this one is a phenomenon waiting to happen. A Hannah Montana for the smart, edgy set.


SONDRA CLARK
Clark is a kind of 17-year-old Dr. Phil, directing kids to brighter futures. Clark has five books on the market including You’ve Got What it Takes and You Can Change Your World. She is a spokesperson for various children’s charities, and is a devoted church-goer. She has two new books on the way this year—12 Going on 29: Surviving Your Daughter’s Tween Years (from Praeger), co-written with her mum, and Snap 2 It! A Real Girls’ Guide to Keeping a Positive Outlook (SourceBooks). There’s something a bit Kids Inc. meets Go Ask Alice about super-clean Sondra’s advice shilling, but there’s undeniable positivity here that has potential to work wonders. 


J.R. KING
King is the teenager behind Arianna Kelt and the Wizards of Skyhall, a Reagent Press book about a reformed thief and wizard seer who must protect the Earth from warlocks and other pesky beasts. I can find very little in the way of bio information on King, but he is said to have completed Arianna Kelt at age 12. A sequel is due shortly.

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