Tabatha Deans Stewart is the former community editor for the Elbert County News, a sister publication of this newspaper. And now, the Littleton resident is a published novelist.
Stewart’s first book, “The Enchanted Scribe: Book One — The Gate and the Girl,” came out Nov. 5 through Connecticut-based Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Co. It’s the result of nearly a decade of work.
It’s about Samantha Biggers, a 13-year-old girl who, with the stroke of her pen, can change the direction of the future. But there are two big problems with Samantha’s incredible powers.
First, as the book tells it, she has no idea she possesses them. The daughter of drug addicts, Sam is the laughingstock of her small community. Her days are filled with abuse and ridicule from teachers and students at her junior high school. She spends her days writing stories, wishing she would be whisked away, and also daydreams of being someone else.
The second problem is more dangerous. An ancient “Eraser” is sent to kill Samantha before she realizes her powers exist.
Suddenly Sam finds herself fighting for her life, and that of the world, as she struggles to master her emerging powers and prevent the Eraser from gaining control of the universal portal. If that happens, it will allow access for all manner of evil to enter this world.
In an interview, Stewart shared her excitement about publishing her first novel, her writing processes, and advice for new writers.
“Everybody is a writer, whether you write for pleasure, for some sort of fulfillment, and whether you make money or not,” she said. “There is a misconception that you have to be Dean Koontz or J.K. Rowling to be a writer. As long as you get it down on paper, you’re a writer.”
How does it feel to have published your first book?
It feels incredible! I wrote my first book when I was 13 years old, but I didn’t actually publish my first book until I was 53. This moment is 40 years in the making and it feels great to finally get a book published.
How long have you been working on this book?
I first wrote it about 10 years ago and just recently revisited it. Things were a lot different 10 years ago. I got tired of dealing with rejection letters and the submission system. The system is much better now. You can get quick responses. Back then you had to send physical letters and wait for a response which could take up to two months. Now with advances in technology, things get done a lot faster.
What inspired you to write this book?
Growing up, I lost myself in books. I had a really good friend who didn’t like to read, though. She really struggled with reading. I wanted her to have one book to read that she really liked. She wasn’t a very strong reader back then and now her son is on the autism spectrum. I want something for kids and teens to read that is accessible and easy. I want to write a book that the average reader can read and something for people who aren’t avid readers.
At what point do you think someone can call themselves a writer?
From the moment they put something on the page. I believe everyone is a writer. Anyone who loves to create and formulate ideas. As long as those thoughts are put onto paper, a person can call themselves a writer.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to write their first book?
Just get the words out. Get them on the page by writing the most exciting scenes first. When you focus on what you are excited to write about, then the rest will come together. Also, never completely delete large gaps of text! Put it in a separate folder. You can spend years rewriting your story and you will never be done. Generally, just have fun with it.
What are the easiest and most difficult parts of your writing process?
The easiest is writing the exciting scenes that I like. The most difficult is remembering the nuance of the story, like the days of the week and time of the year. Sometimes I will set something in the late fall and then have a scene where a character is running through a field of sunflowers, later realizing that fall is not sunflower season. I also dislike the endless editing. Whenever the publisher makes a change, I have to go back and reread the entire thing.
Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?
Some of my characters are loosely based on people I know or have met throughout my life. One of the main characters, the helper of the protagonist, is based off a woman who I became friends with years ago who has since passed away. Sometimes when I meet new people, I like to ask: “If I were to name a character after you, what would their name be?”
What are your future writing plans?
I am going to write the second book in this series. I would also like to finish the other three half-written manuscripts I have laying around.
You can find Tabatha Deans Stewart on Instagram at instagram.com/tabathadeansstewart and learn more about her work at tabathadeans.com. You can find Stewart’s book at tinyurl.com/BNEnchantedScribe and tinyurl.com/AmazonEnchantedScribe.
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