Teen author eyes fourth novel before turning 18

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Most Australian teenagers spend their summer holidays on the beach or playing sport but Alexandra Adornetto used one vacation to write a novel, and she hasn’t looked back with three books published and she’s only 16.

Australian author Alexandra Adornetto is seen in this undated handout publicity photo. Most Australian teenagers spend their summer holidays on the beach or playing sport but Adornetto used one vacation to write a novel, and she hasn't looked back with three books published and she's only 16.REUTERS/Bill Bachmann/HarperCollins/Handout

Adornetto, who is just about to start her final year of high school in Melbourne, Australia, wrote her first novel, “The Shadow Thief,” at the age of 13 after shutting herself away one summer. It was published in 2007 when she was 15 to high acclaim.

A year later, “The Lampo Circus” confirmed her talent as a writer and this month the third and final installment in the series hits the stories with the title “Von Gobstopper’s Arcade.”

She spoke to Reuters about writing while trying to maintain the life of a typical teenager, with her fourth book underway:

Q: What started you writing?

A: “Writing was something I have always been interested in. I’ve grown up in a household full of books, with both my parents English teachers and very booky.”

Q: Where did the idea for your first book come from?

A: “I had the idea when I was re-reading Peter Pan with the scene when Wendy finds his shadow. I thought it would be really interesting to take that idea and play with it a little bit.”

Q: What reaction have you had from people to your writing?

A: “A few mixed reactions. When I first told people I was writing a book some would say that was interesting but others thought it was some holiday project and I would lose interest. I think my parents thought the same thing and they were surprised when I kept going. I’m not sure I thought I would keep going but then it became a big part of my life.”

Q: How did you get published?

A: “I decided to send my book off for publication when I was about halfway through. I’d done a lot of work on it and I was confident it would be accepted eventually but it happened a lot sooner than I expected. I researched Australian publishing houses, made a list and sent it off. They took a long time to respond but HarperCollins was the first to reply and it was yes.”

Q: You’re now in serious exam years. Are you still writing?

A: “I am writing another book, for teenagers, in my final year of school. It is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’ve written three books for a young readership but I decided it might be a good idea to do something different.”

Q: Do your teachers ever object?

A: “My school is very good and quite understanding and know I have to take time off for interviews or writers’ festivals. They are a bit concerned about (this) year, taking off time during (my final year) but they understand it is my career.”

Q: Is it your career?

A: “Well, I’d like to get into university and have the option of doing a course, maybe an arts degree, but I know writing is what I want to do. It would be good to have a back up.”

Q: Do you still have time for friends and other interests?

A: “I didn’t know how to balance it when I was writing book one as I dived in head first but now I am a bit older I have learnt that it is not as hard as it seems to maintain a social life and do other things. I have a word quota I try to fulfill every day and I try to do that in the morning and into the afternoon and then go out with friends at night. I love singing and have lessons and enjoy drama and so I am involved in that.”

Q: Do you know many other teenager authors?

A: “I’ve met a few. I am good friends with Jack Heath who writes for boys and I’ve met a couple of self-published writers and people who started out young. It is always great to meet other young authors. It is always interesting to talk to them because we’ve had a different experience and it all pours out.”

Editing by Miral Fahmy