Chit Chat: Sixteen-year-old St. Charles East student publishes first novel
By NICOLE WESKERNA - firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. CHARLES – Paige Romero, 16, of St. Charles, said she was on a flight to Portland, Ore., when the inspiration for her first novel hit her.
She said the ideas came rapidly, so she typed them out on her cell phone while on the plane.
“Once I got to Portland, I was totally inspired,” she said. “I wrote it in about three days while I was there. I picked up the vibe of the people and experienced it a little bit. Anytime I travel, I want to write a story.”
In early October, the St. Charles East junior’s novel, “Unrequited,” hit the market.
The book follows the life of 22-year-old fictional character John Watson, who – while in Portland – struggles to deal with many hardships in his life. Romero said her character is depressed about a recent breakup with his girlfriend of four years. When he proposed, she said “no,” Romero said.
Watson’s mother also died; his father his no longer around; and his brother is off “doing God knows what,” Romero said, so the character feels very alone.
“It’s about how he deals with depression and rises above it,” she said. “It’s realistic fiction.”
She described the book as somewhat of a tragic romance novel, and said both men and women will enjoy it. She said she wanted to create a relatable character that people could connect to, and said many people in her life inspired the character.
“I feel like everyone goes through what he did. They go through a breakup and feel like they put in more effort than the other person did,” Romero said. “Everyone has family problems and friend problems. The whole relationship thing I got from my parents because they’re divorced. ... I’m kind of pulling ideas from real-life situations I see happening around me.”
Romero said she was a sophomore in high school when she started writing the book, but the editing process took nearly a year. She said she has been writing since she was 9 and is interested in pursuing an English major when she goes to college.
The process of writing her first book was an eye-opening experience, she said, and it could get frustrating at times because sending in her work for review made her a little anxious.
“Editing was the most frustrating part,” she said. “There’s always room for revision. I never felt like anything I wrote was perfect.”
But that won’t stop her from working to publish more books in the future. Romero said she wants to publish more novels and said she expects the editing and publishing process to go much more quickly now that she’s been through it once.
Publishing a book while in high school also was a little nerve-racking, she said, as she worries some people might negatively judge the novel. So far, that hasn’t been the case.
“I was a little nervous. It’s, like, super personal and people can judge me,” she said. “Everyone already knows me as ‘that book girl.’ I’m really happy that people have found an interest in it.”
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