Ness Elementary School fifth-grader Alexi Kearsley finds herself in the company of people much older than she is – the community of published authors.
Kearsley, who turned 11 just last week, wrote the book when she was nine and then spent months trying to find a publisher. The book, titled “Guardians of the Elements,” was picked up by Colorado-based Light Switch Press and started selling in October.
“My book is kind of like a superhero story but with a Hawaiian setting,” Kearsley said.
Her book follows five teenagers who have superpowers based on the elements – fire, water, Earth, rock and air. “They have to defeat the bad guys who have the same powers, but use them for evil,” she said.
One of the first things readers will notice is the unique names her characters have, names like Current and Memtrica. There won’t ever be anyone named Bob or Mary in Kearsley’s writing.
“I like to name them really extravagant and weird names,” she said of her characters. “I think I like them because you’ve never heard it before. I just think it makes them a lot more interesting.”
Kearsley was assisted along the way by several teachers at her school. Principal Theresa Kendall said first grade teacher Val Henry suggested applying for a grant last year to help students hone their leadership and writing skills. Part of the $750 grant from the West Valley Education Association was used to help Kearsley in her efforts to get published, Kendall said.
“It was definitely a group approach,” she said. “I feel really lucky we got to be a part of that.”
The book is available on Amazon, which came as a surprise to Kearsley. “We actually didn’t know it was going to be on Amazon until I saw it,” she said.
In addition to being her editor, mom Brenda Kearsley has been her biggest cheerleader and promoter.
“My mom has been telling everyone, everywhere,” she said.
Kearsley has three siblings and her brother drew some art for her book, but it didn’t make it in the published version.
Kearsley gets a report once a month on how many books have sold and a check. Last month she sold 20 books and she is paid $1 per book. It’s not a lot, but that’s OK, Kearsley said. “It’s still really exciting,” she said.
Though she’s successfully gotten her book published, Kearsley is not content to rest on her laurels.
“I want to make it a series, because I dream big,” she said. “I want each one to focus on one of the characters. I have an idea for the second book. I want it to focus on the Earth guardian. I’m still brainstorming.”
Kearsley likes to think her ideas through in her head before she starts writing. She writes the story, changes a few things, has her mother edit it and then makes revisions.
She said she gets many ideas from the books she reads, and she’s a voracious reader. She’s a fan of fantasy novels and her favorite is the Warriors series by Erin Hunter.
“I love getting ideas from reading,” she said. “You see other writers have really great ideas.”
Based on her reading habits, it’s only natural that her book should be a fantasy book as well. Her goal is to write books that make readers excited and not want to put the book down, she said.
“I like fantasy,” she said. “For me, with fantasy you can make stuff up. You can create your own worlds. It makes you use your full imagination.”
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