An average 13-year-old girl might spend her Saturday nights texting girlfriends, playing games, or watching Netflix.
Katie Faith is about as far from average as it gets.
The Cumberland Community School student has just published her second novel.
The Slayers is “Book Two” of the Marry Clad Trilogy and hit the shelves at the Laughing Oyster Book Store in downtown Courtenay last Friday.
The Ravens – part one of the three-part series – was published a year ago.
The “young adult” trilogy surrounds the central character, Marry Clad, and is set in Los Angeles.
“She learns that she has these powers,” said Katie, offering the story line. “There are two factions that have powers and they battle against each other. They both want her, because she is special and has all the powers.”
Katie credits best-selling Qualicum Beach author Shannon Mayer (author of the Rylee Adamson novels) for guiding her along the way. Katie’s mother, Gillian Foster, used a connection through the 4H Club to set up a meeting with Mayer.
“Shannon is a really good author – a best-selling author, high up in Amazon,” said Katie. “Her husband is in 4H and so we met through there. She met up with me every two weeks or so, over a period of time, and then we started my first book, and it went from there. She is an amazing person.”
The respect is mutual.
“Katie is one of those rare souls who despite the odds against her, keeps fighting,” said Mayer. “Many, many people – never mind young ones – would see the challenges and would have given up long ago. I couldn’t be happier to have played what I feel is a small part in this journey of hers, because I can see that even without me acting as a mentor she never would have given up until she’d accomplished what she set out to do. I’m very proud of her.”
Whereas Mayer was – and remains – her mentor, Katie credits another influence as the catalyst for this budding writing career.
“When I was in Grade 4 (at Queneesh Elementary), my teacher was Miss Campbell. I wrote something for her and it honestly wasn’t very good, but she thought it was really good for a Grade 4 student.
“So she took it down to the other teachers to ask if they felt the same and apparently it was really good, so she told my mom. So then my mom set things up with Shannon.”
Gillian said the local educators deserve a lot of credit.
“The teachers… the people around Katie, the support she gets, is amazing. Neither Adam (Katie’s father, Adam Hambalek) or I are writers, so it’s not necessarily in her blood, but her teachers are amazing. She was in Montessori, which is a ‘work at your own pace’ program. Those teachers – amazing. Then Cumberland Community, we picked that school because they are second-to-none also. They have a great creative writing teacher up there. I don’t know – you hear a lot of negative things about teachers, but that’s not our experience.
“This community is a very good community to have children and raise them in it. And the Laughing Oyster? Wow. The support they have given. Where would you get that, if you lived in a big city?”
This is Katie’s first school year at Cumberland Community. She is in Grade 8.
Katie continues to hone her writing skills, and while penning The Slayers, she attended a ‘writing boot camp’ with Mayer.
“The thing there was 1,000 words a day, no exceptions,” she said. “It was quite an experience. I was definitely the youngest one there. Everyone else was, like, retired, I think.”
Mayer said that while young authors are not overly rare, seeing one achieve what Katie already has sets her apart.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with a couple of young writers in Katie’s age bracket. I would say there are probably a fair number of young writers out there, but not many of them would take their writing to this level,” said Mayer.
Katie said she learned a lot from the first book, making the writing of The Slayers a much easier process for her.
“Definitely, it was so much smoother. It flowed a lot easier – especially the rough draft. I guess I just knew what I had to do.”
Mayer said Katie’s growth, as an author, from The Ravens to The Slayers, is noticeable.
“Huge amounts of growth which is as it should be,” said the mentor. “There are more layers to her writing now as she explores the world she’s created. I think it is just brilliant that she has stuck with this and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
And if authoring two books before your 14th birthday isn’t a monumental enough achievement, consider this: both books were self-published, making Katie an author, publisher and, much to her own dismay, an editor.
“I hate the editing. No offence (to editors), but I hate that part. It takes the longest time of anything, probably. I know I’ve learned a lot from it, so it’s good. But it’s like a love-hate thing, I guess.”
Mayer said Katie’s ambition is a quality rarely seen in writers of any age.
“Katie far exceeded what I thought she would actually do. For that matter, she’s gone far past what most adult authors do. Not only in completing two full-length books, surviving the editing process, and then to go on and have the guts to self-publish, to put herself out there. It’s amazing and inspiring to see her not only chase her dreams, but to actually take all the steps to see them come to life.”
Katie said if things work out the way she plans, her post-production days will soon be behind her.
“My next goal is to get published, traditionally. I’m really hoping to get my next book published by Bloomsbury. Yes, that’s a very high goal, but that’s my goal. I’m going to get it edited a lot, so that I can do that.”
She then tipped her hand a little, when asked whether that was in reference to the final piece of the trilogy.
“A lot of people just assume I am going straight to the third one, now that I have published the second one, but I am actually going to take a bit of a break, to do something completely different. It’s something I’m so excited about already. It’s going to be amazing.”