Five-week effort results in 1st novel for Canton teenager

BY BRAD KADRICH
STAFF WRITER

Like any self-respecting father, Rick Carter of Canton thought his daughter, Aimée, had a particular talent, and he encouraged her vigorously to use it.

And, like many fathers, he wondered whether his urging was doing any good.

When he tripped over his birthday present, he knew Aimée had listened.

Aimée's talent? Writing. The results? Her first published novel, Phoenix Ashes -- the fictional tale of a young boy's struggles to understand life -- was written as a birthday present for her father.

"It was a total surprise to me," said the 57-year-old Carter, a network engineer. "I bugged her for a while, because I thought she had the talent. Then one day I walked out of my room and tripped on it. I opened it, and it was the book."

Aimée, a 16-year-old Canton High School junior, smiles at the thought of having fooled her dad, coming up with excuses like, "I can't think of a plot," or "I have writer's block." The book comes some 18 months after she first took a serious interest in writing.

Her first efforts were "fan fiction" on the Internet, stories in which the author takes someone else's character -- for Aimée it was primarily Harry Potter -- and creates new stories for that character.

Aimée first came across the genre when she was 11 and, after a few years of doing that, finally decided to give writing a shot on her own terms.

"After years of reading it, I figured why not write it?" said Aimée.

Because of her fan fiction writing, she has developed something of a following on the Internet, where she first developed the characters that would appear in her novel. Her first character, Zachary Lucas, is an orphan struggling with life's hardships and disappointments.

Zach's best friend, Minty, walks alongside him through life, as "a means for Zac to go over things he's learned" in life. Although Minty is a product of Zac's dreams, Aimée leaves it up to the reader to decide whether Minty is real.

The idea comes from Aimée's self-professed inability to remember her dreams.

"I've always wanted to be able to, but I never remember my dreams," she said. "That was the original thought that ran through my mind, and it kind of morphed from there."

The main character, Zac, struggles to learn an important message: That all is not lost, no matter how bad life's struggles. Aimée presses the idea that people should "step back" and realize things aren't always as bad as they seem, that "life is great if you just choose to look at it that way."

It's the primary lesson taught to Aimée by her mother, Michele Ouellette, who died six years ago but remains a central influence on the teen-ager's writing -- and life.

"She's the one who made me realize the message the book tries to get across," Aimée said. "She was a great person, and I think she'd agree with everything that's in the book."

When her dad read the book, he thought it was good enough to publish. He started surfing the Internet looking for publishers and found Word Associates, based in Pennsylvania. They liked the idea, and the book, and recently published it.

"I think everyone has someone they would have liked to walk along with in life," Rick Carter said. "It reads really well, but then again, I'm her dad."

When she found out Word Associates would publish it, Aimée said she stood in the hallway jumping up and down and screaming. Even now, she admits, she still has trouble recognizing what an accomplishment it is.

"I know it's an achievement," Aimée said. "I'm basically a very insecure person, so I refuse to admit the book is any good."

She might not want to admit it's any good, but at least one reviewer said so. Writing for BookReviewClub.com, reviewer Jenny Bev wrote, "This is a novel about endurance, friendship and enlightenment ... written with utmost care and craftsmanship by a talented author."

Aimée's legion of Internet friends and readers haven't seen the book yet, but there have been some 1,200 responses to other stories she's posted.

She likes having that kind of feedback.

"They read my stories, they review them, and they talk to me about them," Aimée said. "That's what I value, the honest opinions they give."

Aimée plans a trilogy, and has already finished the second manuscript. She and Rick are currently negotiating to have the second one published, and Aimée has gotten started on the third.

She's not sure she can make a living at writing -- "The possibility of actually making enough money to live on seems small," she said -- but wants to give it a shot. If not, she wants to be a psychologist or psychiatrist.

"I want to help people," she said. "I don't want to be one of those corporate CEOs who just takes money from people. I want to make a difference in the world, helping people who can't help themselves."

bkadrich@oe.homecomm.net | (734) 459-2700

 

 

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