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Young Author at ASM: Under the Willow by Camille Isnard, Grade 10
David Hotler, Upper School Technology Integrator

Why did you decide to write a book?
Well, I didn’t actually plan to write a book, just a short story and originally it was to be in French because my french tutor told me that I needed to start writing more. They told me to just write about anything that I wanted. It was slow to write in French and eventually, I wanted to write faster so I started writing it in English. 

I got about three pages written in French before I switched to English. The moment I realized that it was more than a short story was in February on a ski trip with my family. I would finish skiing during the day and then write at night. I was writing a book on vacation! When I first started it felt like it would just be a short story but then I got to 20 or so pages and hadn’t even gotten into the plot. So I stopped writing and made a plan.

While I started writing it as a project, I finished writing it for myself. I don’t care if it sells. That’s not the point. It was my family that convinced me to publish this and make it public and be proud of it. I’m really happy they did that, I am really happy with how it turned out. I am so proud of myself and the book but before this process, I was kinda embarrassed by it.

Where did you draw inspiration?
I was supposed to attend a summer program at a boarding school in New England before COVID happened. I imagined the time there that I didn’t get and used that for inspiration. I also pulled inspiration from some of my favorite books and movies and lots of the characters are based on real people in my life. 

Also, I love reading cheesy romance novels. I was looking for good books and didn’t find what I wanted. I decided to write my “ideal” book. I didn’t know what the big problem was or how the couple would meet or like the backstory for the characters and the setting and things. I just started writing.

What kind of support did you have along the way?
My sister would read it and help me revise and edit along the way. She would keep me grounded while I was writing. My family was such a great inspiration to me.

How did you publish it?
It wasn’t published by a company. I self-published it on Amazon; it’s actually really simple. We had an editor read it over and check it. I hired a book cover designer and an interior book designer for the page layout. Then we uploaded that manuscript to Amazon. At first, it was only available on Kindle. But later we revised the manuscript and uploaded it to enable hardcopy prints. So now people can buy a real copy of my book!

Do you plan to write more?
I’ve started the second book. I think I have like 30 pages. I have a bit of writer’s block right now. I might resume it one day but for now, I need some inspiration.

What have you learned from all of this?
By writing the book and when I reread it, I realized I had really improved my writing. I think that I learned my skills as a writer and now when I read, I focus much more on how it is written and I notice more of the details in writing styles. I now have so much respect for how much work goes into writing a book for sure.

What is the “back cover summary” of the book? What’s the story about?
It’s about a girl, 14, who moves to a boarding school in New England. Both her siblings had gone to this school and she was excited. As the new girl on campus, she made new friends via classes, the dorms, and normal circumstances. The story follows her experiences as a new member of the school community and the excitement and drama associated with coming of age and living at a boarding school. 

What did the process teach you?
The process showed me who I really want in my life and who really inspires and supports me. Some people were really proud of me for trying this out and got involved and were really into helping. I seriously couldn’t have done it without them. Other people, not so much. Now I really admire the accomplishments of other writers. 

What would you say to other young authors?
Do it for you and make sure you enjoy it. If you feel pressured or forced to write, it won’t work. Be proud of your writing and be open to criticism and feedback. Not everyone is going to like it but that’s okay, keep writing anyway.

Title of the book: Under the Willow
By: Camille Isnard