Father challenged daughter to write book. 'Phoenix
Ashes' given to him for birthday
CANTON TOWNSHIP -- For months, Rick
Carter had encouraged his teen-age daughter, Aimée, to write a
She did, after all, enjoy writing fan fiction on
the Internet. And based on a few school essays, Carter new she
certainly had the talent.
So when Carter found a 158-page manuscript at
his bedroom door on his birthday morning last June, he knew his
encouragement had paid off.
"It was my birthday present to him," said Aimée,
a 16-year-old junior at Canton High School. "He read through it
and decided it was good enough."
So good, in fact, that it was published in
December by Word Association Publishers of Tarentum, Pa.. The
book, "Phoenix Ashes," is available on Amazon.com, at Barnes &
Noble stores and at the Little Book Shoppe on the Park in
Aimée's story follows the events in a boy's life
from 6 through 14. Protagonist Zac Lucas, is an orphan who has
experienced a great deal of pain, including the feeling of being
an intruder in the home he shares with his uncle's family.
In a dream-like sequence, a character named
Minty provides counseling and advice. In school, Zac opens up to
Elizabeth McCain, who becomes his best friend and shares the ups
and downs of young adulthood until something tragic happens. All
the events help to shape Zac's perception of his life.
"The whole book is about perception in that
aspect," Aimée said. "All teen-agers see things in black and
white, and refuse to see things in shades of gray. This book is
geared toward teen-agers mostly, told in the way teen-agers
"But I believe a lot of adults would read it,
especially if they have teen-agers of their own, because they
can relate to it."
It took just five weeks to write her novel,
which runs 254 pages in book form. The idea came to her while
she was jotting ideas in her journal and the song "Counting Blue
Cars" by rock group Dishwalla came on the radio.
"It just happened, it just converged," she said.
"I didn't actually plan on writing anything until I got the
idea, and I got it the day before I started writing."
Aimée worked on the novel a few hours each
night, in between juggling two jobs and maintaining A's and a
few B's at school.
"I tend to be extremely fast," she said. "I type
about 180 words a minute. When I write, my head is almost in a
movie format, and I type what I see. It's like I'm watching a
movie with my fingers moving, and not realizing what I'm doing
for the most part."
Aimée's tale fits in the genre of fantasy -- not
surprising, considering many of her favorite authors are from
that category. She enjoys JK Rollings, author of the Harry
Potter books, and science fiction/fantasy novelist David Eddings.
In fact, the Canton Township teen started
writing because of Rollings. About a year and a half ago, Aimée
began writing fan fiction about Harry Potter on the Internet.
Fan fiction involves writers creating stories about an existing
character -- Harry Potter, for instance -- and posting them,
usually on the Internet.
"It's how I learned to write because it really
helps people learn their strengths and weaknesses," Aimée said.
"Fan fiction is a little community, a kind of shelter of people
who care about writing and want to do so and improve."
Looking back, Aimée now realizes how much
influence her mother, Michele Ouellette, had on the book. Her
mother died six years ago.
"Her whole philosophy was to take life as it
comes, to live life to its fullest," Aimée said. "That's all
over my book. My mom's philosophy is woven into my writing, in
the plot and how characters think."
Aimée has finished the manuscript for a second
novel in what she plans as a trilogy, and gave it to her dad for
Christmas. She expects it to be published by summer.
As for what's next, her dad said he hopes Aimée
continues to write.
"It would be an absolute shame if she doesn't
keep writing," Carter said. "Her only concern is that she won't
be able to make a living at it."
Aimée plans to attend the University of Michigan
or Sarah Lawrence College in New York and major in psychology.
Other goals also are ambitious: to sell 10,000 books and appear
on David Letterman's show.
But as Aimée's 17th birthday approaches this
Friday, it's only fitting to ask if there's anything else on her
wish list. Another publishing deal, perhaps? Or the idea for her
"I want a second hole in my ears, actually," she
Michelle Franzen Martin is a Metro Detroit