MS. REBECCA SHEIR
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
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
I'm a big advocate that summer should be a time for kids to get bored, so that they learn to explore other things.
But pretty soon the novelty of having free time wore off.
I think he was a little bored.
And Andrew came to his mother with a surprising idea.
He said, you know, Mom, you know how I still make up those stories?
At age 15, Andrew was already an old hand at storytelling.
MR. ANDREW GRANT
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.
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.
This time Andrew thought he had a really great idea.
So I decided to write it down.
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.
"Iliad" and "The Odyssey," "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini and, like, "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter."
The novel takes place in the mythical country of Alderia. In it, the hero joins forces with resistance fighters to overthrow a tyrannical government.
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.
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.
There was this one section...
"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."
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.
The book project has brought some unexpected perks for mother and son.
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.
They've managed to avoid the latter.
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.
And a great grandparenting moment, too.
As he was writing, it also became a wonderful thing for him to talk to his grandparents about.
And in November, Andrew decided he wanted his grandparents to be able to have a copy of his work.
Well, I rushed it a bit at the end because I wanted to give it to my grandparents as a Christmas present.
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.
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.
Now Andrew and his mom are hoping to bring his stories to a broader audience.
The manuscript is out to literary agents and publishers and we certainly hope that something wonderful will happen. But something wonderful has already happened.
So if your teen ever expresses an interest in writing his or her first novel, you might want to offer Andrew Grant's advice.
I'm Heather Taylor.
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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