Grandville — Librarians across the country may want to start learning the name “K.L. Faulk.”
That’s the pen name of Grandville High School senior Katherine Faulk, who published her first novel, “New Dawn,” on Amazon last fall and is currently working on revisions to her second. For someone who once refused to learn her ABCs in kindergarten, the budding author’s enthusiasm for the written word is unmistakable.
“I just love books — I love stories so much,” Katherine said. “But I never knew that I liked writing so much until I tried. I started imagining my own stories and when I was trying to go to sleep or was in the shower, there would be characters suddenly in my head. And I would try imagining different things with the scenes and just play them over and over again.
“Finally, I realized it was kind of like my own book that I was reading in my head. And I wanted to do something with it, and not just have it for myself. I wanted to share it.”
Katherine started her novel slowly, writing mostly on weekends, and didn’t tell anyone what she was doing. But after reading Stephen King’s book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” she committed to writing 1-2 hours every day, figuring out the story as she went along. The first draft of “New Dawn” took about six months to complete.
“I write for myself, first, because the stories started in my head,” she explained. “I have main plot points that I try to follow, but the story develops on its own and my characters end up doing things I didn’t even expect them to do. There were definitely times where I’d write whole scenes and then look at it and say, ‘Nope,’ and just delete it.”
Once the revision process started, “That’s when I write and revise for everybody else. It’s no longer a story just for me.”
In taking the story from rough first draft to final published version on Amazon, Katherine took advantage of some notable resources both at home and at school. Her mom, an English teacher at Kelloggsville High School, played an important role as editor and helped to streamline the story.
Katherine also applied for, and was granted, an independent study course at the high school this year. The program allows students who are passionate about a specific topic or activity for which there may not be an existing class, to work on research or a project of their choosing. In Katherine’s case, this gives her an extra hour each day to write, revise, edit and learn more about agents and the book querying process.
For her independent study, Katherine was paired with English teacher Audra Sall. The two first met when Katherine took Sall’s creative writing class and established a good working relationship. They meet regularly for the independent study, with Sall setting goals and acting as a sounding board for Katherine when she has questions.
“What I like about the (independent study) set-up is that we get to discuss and decide together what the structure or the assignments will be,” Sall said. “Like when she was writing her second draft last semester, we decided on a page-count goal to push her as a writer—they may not be great pages, but they’re pages, and then we can work on them.”
Although this is Sall’s first time leading an independent study, she said she’s been inspired by Katherine’s drive to create and her love for writing.
“It’s so great, as an English teacher, to see a student who is self-motivated and loves their craft, and who has found that passion so young,” she said. “It is really a joy to watch her develop and grow.”
For those interested in checking out “New Dawn” on Amazon, the author describes the young-adult novel as “a coming-of-age and experiencing new things” type of story. It follows the main character, Autumn Evenington, as her father forces her into an arranged marriage. Before accepting this fate, Autumn decides to travel and learn more about the place where she would be living. It’s there, in this new world, that she encounters an unknown enemy with deadly intentions.
To have her writing out in the world is “scarier that I thought it’d be,” said Katherine. “That sounds odd, but I’m more of an introverted person and with something I wrote being open for anyone to have opinions on is kind of scary, but I’m learning how to deal with that. And I’m learning how to react when people say they love the book, too. It’s amazing how far it can reach.”
With just a few drafts to go, Katherine said her second novel should be ready to publish on Amazon in the near future. Then, she’s planning to graduate high school, head off to college and see where her next writing inspiration takes her.
Although she knows it will take a lot of work, Katherine hopes to one day move beyond self-publishing, find an agent and write books for a living.
“If I could, (‘New Dawn’) would definitely be the first thing I published, because it’s the very first story I wrote. No matter what happens, I’m probably always going to love it because it was my first attempt.”