Putting passion to paper: Columbus County 7th graders write, publish a novel

Middle School students write and publish novel

COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Taylor Duncan and Hailey Long put their passion to paper.

The two 12-year-olds just wrote and published their very first novel, but the journey to where they are today didn’t come without a plot twist. The girls’ path to publication started with suspicion.

“I received a notification that there was some bullying or there was like some arguing going on,” said Kelly Jones, Columbus County Schools Art Education Coordinator. “And, I go into the document where this is taking place. And I immediately tell that this is a story.”

In his 26 years of working in schools, Kelly Jones said he had never seen anything like this. Instead of punishment he gave them a deadline, but not without a promise; if the girls finished the book before Thanksgiving, he would get it published.

“It was just kind of unreal,” said Duncan. “Something that we never really expected.”

“I was like, ‘Mama!’ She was like, ‘What?’ I said, “Our book is gonna get published!” said Long. “And she was like, ‘Hailey, stop playing with me. No, it’s not.’ And I was like, ‘No, it is!’”

The two Williams Township students are best friends.

“Me and Hailey actually had the idea for the book in the fifth grade when we became really, really good friends,” said Duncan. “I really enjoyed writing. And she really enjoyed writing. And so we were just like, we should just write something together.”

The two had the help of Jones and their English teacher, Cherry Willoughby.

“[Taylor] said we got to have it done by Thanksgiving,” said Willoughby. “I said, ‘What?!’” “Because we’re on page 90,” added Duncan. “But the story was developing. I was amazed,” said Willoughby.

Willoughby put in countless hours editing the book and to help the girls perfect the novel. The book is a fantasy fiction titled, “Shadows Into Light.” Each chapter offers a different point of view from a character.

“I put a lot of my emotions through that into my character, Naomi, and I think they definitely helped with her, for being able to convey a message,” said Duncan.

“I’m just so so proud of them,” said Jones. “And, if I’m honest, just amazed at what they accomplished.”

“No dream is too big,” said Long. “No dream is too small.”

Long and Duncan plan to write a sequel.

Jones says they’ve sold around 50 copies so far and every penny goes to the girls.

To purchase a copy of the book, click here.

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