High School Student Moonlights As Novelist (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

Maryland High School Student Moonlights As Novelist

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
So far in the show we've talking about adults who moonlight, grown-ups. But our next story is about a local teen. Andrew Grant is a Silver Spring High School by day but over the past year, by night, on weekends and during summer break, he's been something else, a novelist. Heather Taylor brings us his story.

MS. HEATHER TAYLOR

00:00:23
Tracy Grant didn't have big plans for how her 15-year-old son Andrew would spend his summer break last year. And that wasn't by accident.

MS. TRACY GRANT

00:00:30
I'm a big advocate that summer should be a time for kids to get bored, so that they learn to explore other things.

TAYLOR

00:00:38
But pretty soon the novelty of having free time wore off.

GRANT

00:00:42
I think he was a little bored.

TAYLOR

00:00:44
And Andrew came to his mother with a surprising idea.

GRANT

00:00:47
He said, you know, Mom, you know how I still make up those stories?

TAYLOR

00:00:51
At age 15, Andrew was already an old hand at storytelling.

MR. ANDREW GRANT

00:00:56
I have been making up stories, like, in my head, since I was about four. Just like being my room, throwing a little red ball around just making them up.

GRANT

00:01:04
He would go up into his bedroom, lay on his back, throw up a red rubber ball and make up stories in his head for hours on end. And my husband and I used to joke that sending Andrew to his room was never a viable punishment option because he thrived. He loved being sent to his room.

TAYLOR

00:01:26
This time Andrew thought he had a really great idea.

GRANT

00:01:30
So I decided to write it down.

TAYLOR

00:01:32
But something unexpected happened. But two unexpected things happened. Long after summer break was over and Andrew continued writing. And he ended up with a 327-page novel called "The Black Hammer." Reading the book, it's clear that Andrew's a big fan of epic tales.

GRANT

00:01:49
"Iliad" and "The Odyssey," "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini and, like, "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter."

TAYLOR

00:01:54
The novel takes place in the mythical country of Alderia. In it, the hero joins forces with resistance fighters to overthrow a tyrannical government.

GRANT

00:02:03
I read and I confess, I was stunned. I was stunned at how good it was. But I was also having a hard time assessing how much of that was maternal pride and how much of that was bonafide talent.

TAYLOR

00:02:20
Realizing she couldn't be totally objective, Tracy Grant, who works as the KidsPost editor for The Washington Post decided to ask one of her colleagues to judge.

GRANT

00:02:29
There was this one section...

GRANT

00:02:31
"Blake sat wordlessly on the back of the bike as he zips along the narrow dirt path that ran through the forest. He looked around, gazing through the canopy of trees at the bright green tiny amount of sunshine fluttering down through the canopy sparkling on the ground."

GRANT

00:02:44
Just thought it was among the nicest things that I have ever read. And so I actually asked book review editor at The Post, just read these two and a half pages. Tell me what you think. And his response was that he had never read anything like that from someone who was -- Andrew was 15 at the time.

TAYLOR

00:03:10
The book project has brought some unexpected perks for mother and son.

GRANT

00:03:13
The teenage years can be tricky and you can either grow very close or you can sort of become estranged and have lots of difficulties.

TAYLOR

00:03:23
They've managed to avoid the latter.

GRANT

00:03:25
It has given us this touch point for us to discuss so many things. My husband, the boys' dad, died five years ago. It's very difficult. In the book, the main character loses his parents. It's been a launching point for having safe conversations about loss, about faith.

TAYLOR

00:03:52
And a great grandparenting moment, too.

GRANT

00:03:54
As he was writing, it also became a wonderful thing for him to talk to his grandparents about.

TAYLOR

00:04:01
And in November, Andrew decided he wanted his grandparents to be able to have a copy of his work.

GRANT

00:04:07
Well, I rushed it a bit at the end because I wanted to give it to my grandparents as a Christmas present.

TAYLOR

00:04:11
So Tracy Grant called Politics and Prose, the independent bookstore on Connecticut Avenue. It's got a self-publishing machine called Opus that can make a book from scratch, usually in about five minutes.

GRANT

00:04:24
Fast-forward to Christmas when he wrapped this book and gave it to his grandparents, you know, they were speechless. And it was just a wonderful moment.

TAYLOR

00:04:36
Now Andrew and his mom are hoping to bring his stories to a broader audience.

GRANT

00:04:40
The manuscript is out to literary agents and publishers and we certainly hope that something wonderful will happen. But something wonderful has already happened.

TAYLOR

00:04:50
So if your teen ever expresses an interest in writing his or her first novel, you might want to offer Andrew Grant's advice.

GRANT

00:04:57
Go for it.

TAYLOR

00:04:58
I'm Heather Taylor.

SHEIR

00:05:06
If you'd like to read a sample of Andrew Grant's novel, "The Black Hammer," you can find an excerpt on our website. That's metroconnection.org.
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