Young author's got the write stuff
Teen visits Kennedy to discuss prequel to her best-selling novel
February 6, 2007
By Tim Waldorf Staff Writer
Then again, they could be authors now, as evidenced by the success of 13-year-old novelist Nancy Yi Fan, who visited Kennedy on Monday to discuss her book, "Swordbird," with the Screaming Pens and other students who are fans of her work.
Writing, Nancy said, is now her hobby.
"You know how you play sports just for the playing?" she asked the students. "I guess I write for the writing."
She began writing "Swordbird," a fantasy novel about tribes of warring birds, when she was 11, and finished it a year later. When she completed her manuscript, she simply e-mailed it to Jane Friedman, the executive editor of Harper Collins. Now, "Swordbird" is a New York Times best seller, and Nancy is busy writing her second book, "Quest," the prequel to "Swordbird."
"Talking to you about this, I still can't believe it's a book," Nancy said of "Swordbird."
Birds have been a lifelong passion of Nancy's. The distinct personalities of her own, combined with dreams she'd had about others, inspired her to write "Swordbird," which tells how the cardinals and blue jays - the "woodbird" tribes of Stone-Run Forest - find themselves pitted against each other in a search for precious food supplies - some of which have mysteriously gone missing thanks to the evil hawk, Turnatt, whose capture and enslavement of the woodbirds can only be stopped by legendary heroic bird of peace - the Swordbird.
Nancy, who lived with her parents in China until she was 7, wrote the novel in response to learning of the war on terror.
"The moral of 'Swordbird' is (that) peace is wonderful, freedom is sacred," she said.
Kennedy students were impressed with her work. While Nancy may not be an experienced author, her youth is what worked for them.
"When a kid writes it, they have a direct connection," eighth-grader Safa Dadan said. "They know what it's like to be a kid."
Sixth-grader Alec Dickson agreed.
"She's a kid," he said. "She knows what gets us interested. So she can relate to us and get us hooked to it."
A handful of students that met Nancy already are working on books of their own. Her success is an inspiration to them, they said.
"I really like that she wrote it based on a dream, because that's kind of what I've been doing," Dadan said. "I can relate to that, and it's nice to know that, when you write about a dream, you can finish the story instead of abandoning it."
Contact Tim Waldorf at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-416-5270.