People don’t often think of young adults as authors. However, two Tufts students the Daily had the chance to interview shatter that misconception. Senior Claire Fraise and sophomore Mark Lannigan both self-published books before even arriving at Tufts.
Lannigan published a book of short stories toward the end of his senior year of high school entitled “Stunningly Mortal” (2019). It includes three alternative history short stories.
However, he didn’t begin the writing process thinking he was going to write a book. At the beginning of high school, Lannigan decided to take up writing short stories and ended up with many. Though he began writing just for fun, it was the prompting of friends and a teacher that made Lannigan consider publishing. “It was actually one of my teachers in high school who told me, ‘hey, you know, you should publish this’ … I don’t think I would have if it wasn’t for people telling me that that was a tangible option,” he said.
The biggest obstacle for him in self-publishing was not knowing how to go about the process at first. He reached out to different companies, did some research and eventually found “The Book Patch,” which he felt was the best match for his book. They helped him format the book, and Lannigan had a friend design the cover.
Fraise, on the other hand, published her first book through Amazon and used CreateSpace for its layout, cover and print-on-demand services. The company has since merged with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing print service. However, the inception of her book occurred many years earlier.
She always knew that she wanted to write. When Fraise was in middle school, she sat down with the first chapter of “The Hunger Games” (2008) and basically rewrote it, paraphrasing each sentence to help her internalize the flow and narrative organization.
From there, she took what she learned from her experience reading and studying books she loved and applied it to writing a story of her own. Two years later, Fraise began writing a young adult dystopian novel titled “Imperfect” (2015) and published it when she was 15. “I knew that I wanted to write a book when I was 11, and when I was 13 [I] knew I wanted to write that book,” Fraise commented.
This experience made her fall in love with writing, publishing and sharing stories. “The reason that I am so compelled to write is that … I have that level of love for my own stories and the worlds I make in my head … [and it] allows me to examine things I haven’t necessarily experienced … [as well as] understand people better,” she said.
Both authors talked about how finding time between classes and homework is important in order to continue writing. For Lannigan, writing is a way to de-stress, even when he has a lot of work to do. “If I have a lot of academic work, then I’ll take some time out of my day and write … as a de-stress tactic.”
In addition to setting aside time every night to write, Fraise uses outlining to help her writing process. Her extensive and detailed outlining with color-coded Excel documents helps her ideas flow when it comes time to write. “I just try to keep it as organized as possible so when it actually comes to the part where I sit down to write I don’t have to do a lot of thinking.”
Beyond the obstacle of time management, an even bigger challenge is trying to figure out how to get something published. “From my experience,” Lannigan advised, “I would say don’t be intimidated by the process of self-publishing. It’s not as bad as it looks. And when it does look daunting, whether you’re publishing or self-publishing, just reach out to the company and they’ll hopefully help you through.”
Both Fraise and Lannigan also talked about their future writing plans and books yet to be published. Lannigan is working on a second edition of “Stunningly Mortal,” while writing another separate but complementing book of short stories.
Fraise has two books coming out this year. Her paranormal thriller, “They Stay,” will be published in July 2021 and her coming-of-age novel entitled “The Girl Under the Covered Bridge” will be published fall 2021.
For any aspiring writers, Fraise’s advice is: “If you want to write and publish a book, I think you need to dedicate yourself to it … you have to show up for yourself and show up for your story.”
Note: Elizabeth Sander ’21 contributed to the reporting of this piece.