BY CHERYL SLAVIN
Three Stony Point teenagers have achieved what many adults have only imagined doing: they have written and published their first novel, all before they have even entered their sophomore year in high school.
North Rockland High School students McKenzie Fox, Carly Toscano and Carly Kapusinsky, friends since second grade, have collaborated together to produce “Blinded,” a fantasy/adventure work and the first installment of their planned “Misfits of London” series.
Now 15-years-old, the three authors were only 14 when they decided to create a book together. The idea grew out of their mutual love of story-telling and writing. Even as little girls they loved getting together to make up stories and write them down.
“It was the way we bonded,” said Kapusinsky.
“We always liked writing stories together,” agreed Fox.
As high school freshmen, they joined the North Rockland High writer’s club. At that point, “Blinded” was already in the works. The story, about a pair of twins and a friend who all possess certain supernatural gifts, is alternately told from the three characters’ differing points of view. The fantasy world includes magical schools located in remote places like the North Pole or on a cloud, and follows the adventures of the three friends as they discover their “giftedness” and face challenges when called upon to use them wisely. Each chapter was written by one of the three authors, who then passed it along to the next to continue.
“It took so much communication,” explained Toscano. “We spent a lot of time on Skype, online and together to get the story right.”
English teachers at North Rockland helped with the mechanics of creating and marketing the book, and Fox’s father pitched in with editing assistance. But for the most part, from the content to the cover art (by Fox), to finding self-publication site lulu.com, to creating a website, the entrepreneurial authors did the work themselves. From start to finish, it took about a year to produce the final product, published in early June this year.
The authors all agree that the entire experience, from coming up with the concept to seeing their book in print, was nothing short of “amazing.” Now, “getting it out there, getting it sold and read by other people, would be even more splendid,” said Toscano.
So far they have sold about 45 copies. The trio is working on getting the book into the school library, and hopefully into the Rose Memorial and Tomkins Cove libraries as well.
In addition to planning a sequel, the writers are also working on several short story ideas, which they hope to have published through an online or print literary magazine. Their focus is to build a writing resume so that eventually their works will catch the attention of a traditional publisher. They also have a website on which they intend to publish stories and updates. A segment of one short story, “337,” is already available.
Meanwhile, all three teens will continue with their busy lives: in addition to being authors and students, they each played on the varsity golf team, and Kapusinsky also plays tennis. And even though one of the trio, Toscano, will soon be moving out of state, the girls intend to continue their friendship and collaboration through Skype, social media and phone calls. Whether of not they pursue writing as a career remains to be seen, but they know that for now they will continue.
“Storytelling is fun,” they all agree. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it.”
“Blinded” is available for $15 on the authors’ website at cmcinc.weebly.com, and also through lulu.com.