Student’s Novel is focus of High School Book Club
When DHS East Librarian Darryl McCauley entered the school library one morning, he saw a group of students hovering over a computer screen. Looking closer at the screen he saw the photo icon of a book that was on sale on Amazon. The 450-page fantasy was written by one of his students, Leah Duf. He immediately purchased 10 hard copies and invited students to read the book and join him in a discussion of the fable in an after-school book club.
The book’s author, Leah Duff, is a senior at DHS East and is planning to study English and Digital Arts at Middlebury College. Using the pseudonym Leanne Duffy, the young author wrote The Violet Wars for her required graduation project. All students in the Downingtown Area School District must complete a Community Service experience or complete a project that involves at least 40 hours of time and effort in order to graduate. In Leah Duff’s case, writing the book took 2 ½ years.
“I woke up from a dream one morning and the genesis of the book was all right there”, said Leah. “I started to write and quickly filled up three notebooks. I used Amazon’s self-publishing services, writing, editing and doing all the formatting myself. I was even able to design the cover.”
The story is set in the kingdom of Eilian, once ruled by a benevolent race called the Fae. Human greed has destroyed all but one of the Fae. The young Fae, heroine Arwyn Dubois, is determined to take her kingdom back from the greed, poverty and corruption of the young King Dominik.
The book club featuring Leah’s book was held on January 10th. Freshman Gabe Ramos said it was “really good” and called it a fantasy epic. Sophomore Rachel Sano said she had stayed up until midnight to finish it.
Leah Laurie, also a freshman liked the book. “There was a good main character and the story lines were well fleshed out.”
Leah Duff took advantage of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. There is no charge on Amazon to upload your book. If someone searchs and purchases the Kindle copy of the book, authors get royalties of either 35% to 70% of the sale price depending on the Amazon service used. Amazon reports that it has thousands of self-published titles available for sale through its Kindle Store yet only 40 self-published authors can boast of being successful in this new publishing world.
“I didn’t publish in the hopes of getting any money, I did it for the principal of writing a book,” said Leah. “I was so honored when Mr. McCauley want to use my book for the book club. I really want to get feedback from my fellow students. What character did they liked, what plot twist worked, what didn’t? I’m excited but a little nervous to hear what they have to say”
Librarian Darryl McCauley is thrilled that creative students have this new opportunity to put their imaginations to work and create a book for others to read. “Lots of students have a book idea in them. Leah is one of the first students I know to take her idea and run with it. I was very pleased to be able to feature one of my own students in our book club and have been very pleased with the numbers of students who have been taking her book out of the Library to read.
Leah’s biggest fan is her sister Alana. Alana has two copies of The Violet Wars, one to find and mark all the typos and one to keep clean for when her sister becomes a famous author.
“She dedicated the book to me”, said Alana with a smile, “but I think I should share co-writing credit for all the hours I put into editing her typos. She gets an idea and races along with it, but sometimes she forgets to put in her periods.”