While many young story tellers dream of publishing a book, 19-year-old Avery Rose Strangstalien of West Salem is making her dream a reality.
Avery’s first self-published novel “Every Star in the Sky,” which she published under the pen name Avery Rose Asher, becomes available on Amazon.com Sept. 27 as a Kindle e-book.
She describes the book as a coming-of-age story set in a dark dystopian fantasy, where a corrupt monarchy rules over a land devastated by a plague that turns to men to bird-like beasts.
“It’s about an ordinary protagonist who becomes extraordinary,” she said. “I’ve always loved that trope.”
Avery’s protagonist, Jay Hart, is an awkward 18-year-old who leaves her village in search of a higher calling.
Hart soon finds herself among a group of resistance fighters working to undermine the monarchy. During her journey, she discovers the truth about the plague. It was created by the monarchy.
Avery liked the idea of a plague that brings the dead back to life as half-human, half-bird zombies because, she said, it was more interesting than a run of the mill monsters so common in fantasy.
“I feel like a lot of monsters in fantasy are really overdone,” she said.
Avery said the inspiration for the birds came in from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven.”
“It got me through some rougher times in my life, so I really resonate with that poem,” she said.
A student at Southern New Hampshire University, Avery hopes her first book will be a stepping to stone to bigger things and perhaps a publishing deal.
“It’s always been a dream for me,” she said. “Now that I have my first book published I can do so much more.”
Avery briefly considered traditional publishing, but knew her chances were slim.
“I kind of just wanted to get it out into the world,” she said adding that there was something attractive about being self-published.
“I have really wanted to be a self-published author,” she said. “I just think it’s so cool that I am going to have my book available at a cheaper price.”
Avery’s mother Kimberly said it was no surprise to her when she went this route.
“I can’t wait to get a hold of her first paperback book,” she said. “We’re so proud of her.”
The inspiration for the book came from years of reading fantasy.
“She’s had that passion for reading and writing her whole life, Kimberly said. “The most exciting thing for her to get was books.”
For as long as Avery could remember, she’s been telling stories.
“As soon as I could write stories, I would,” she said. “I remember making up stories when I was in first grade.”
These stories allowed her to escape from her reality.
“I have always been a reader,” she said. “I had a rougher childhood and I think I used books to kind of escape that.”
In school, Avery was the target of frequent bullying. For her, books became her shelter.
“Books are so magical in that they take you away from that and give you role models to aspire to be,” she said. “I read a lot. I think that’s the reason I write.”
Avery began work on the novel as a senior in high school. The novel was part of her a senior exit project. The cumulative project tasks seniors with putting the skills they’ve acquired during their high school experience to use to help others or achieve self growth.
Tired of writing short stories and vignettes, Avery set out to finish her first novel.
“I knew I needed to be a part of this journey,” she said.
Of course, like many writers, Avery struggled with procrastination and writer’s block. She put off her project until the last three weeks before it was due.
Then, in a rare twist of fate, Avery found clarity in what she described as a state of “deadline induced insanity.”
“I wrote the book really fast,” she said adding the first draft came together in less than a month.
“The whole process, I just sort of fell in love with right away,” she said.
Avery said beyond the ratings and sales, she wants people to read her work.
“I am beyond thrilled,” she said. “More importantly I want people to read it.”
“Every Star in the Sky” is available to pre-order on Amazon.com. The book will be available for download Sept. 27.