A Written Call
Bestselling teen author visits La Verne bookstore
Article Launched: 01/29/2008 03:16:12 PM PST
(Sarah Reingewirtz / Staff)
Some people spend their whole lives searching for their calling, not knowing what would bring passion and a sense of accomplishment into their existence.
At 14, just a freshman in high school, Nancy Yi Fan has embraced the fact that she has discovered an art she both enjoys and is talented in. It's also something she hopes will enhance the lives of others.
"I'm definitely going to be writing for the rest of my life," the Florida resident said. "I love writing and I couldn't imagine not writing."
But it's not just a journal or the school paper where this passionate teen writes her amazing ideas. Her first book, "Swordbird," published in February 2007, skyrocketed to the top of the New York Times Children's Best Sellers list. Her latest novel, "Swordquest," which soared into bookshelves on Jan. 23, prompted Fan's week-long book tour across the country. It included her first trip to California.
La Verne was one of seven stops to promote "Swordquest," a prequel to Fan's first novel, "Swordbird." On Jan. 25, the teen spoke to a group of children at Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop.
"It's always great for kids to know that they don't have to be grown for them to be able to achieve," said Christa Wiese-Amend, event coordinator for Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop.
Fan herself never imagined this kind of success at such a young age. When she sent out her manuscript to every publisher she could contact, it wasn't her intent to try to get her writings published. She just wanted a little advice in order to improve her skills.
It was Jane Friedman, president/CEO of HarperCollins Children's Books, who gave this young author a chance.
Both fantasy novels are focused and inspired by Fan's love of birds. The straight-A student finds that looking out her window and observing some of these flighty creatures gets her wheels turning and her ideas flowing. She also has three pet lovebirds of her own — Ever-sky, Pandora, and Dippler.
"Swordquest," a story about an ordinary bird who becomes an extraordinary hero, focuses on fate as its main message.
"I think kids really could care about (this story). Everyone is always asking them what they will do in the future," Fan said. "I think if we really try hard we can change fate and you might find that you can publish two books when you're only 14."
Her entrance into the professional world of writing started when she awoke from a vivid dream in which birds were fighting in a war. When she got out of bed, she set the pen to her paper.
A year later, she was finished. It was written partly out of her concern for peace in this world.
"At that time I was living in upstate New York and I was concerned about peace," she said. "Without peace, we wouldn't have schools or learning or books."
Her novels present the sword as a symbol of peace instead of a symbol of death and darkness. This is similar to the thinking behind martial arts. Fan took up the activity last year in order to make the battle scenes in her writing more vivid and detailed.
But since her first book was published, Fan has gotten the attention of the media and a few celebrities.
Jackie Chan, one of her favorite actors because of his martial arts ability and humor, sent her a kind letter last year. He wrote that he was proud and inspired by her, partly because of the fact that she hadn't abandoned her culture.
Fan lived in China for the first seven years of her life. She continues speaking, reading and writing in her native language. She even translated her "Swordbird" into Chinese herself.
The young author also visited the "Today" show in New York in July 2007, where her book was chosen as one of four of Al Roker's Book Club for Kids. She also made an appearance on the Martha Stewart Show last Spring.
"I'm so glad to have a chance to share my story," she said. "I wouldn't ever have imagined I would be on the Martha Stewart Show."
For this driven young writer, all of this is just the beginning.