Of all the people who dream of writing a novel, very few will experience the satisfaction of holding in their hands their own published book. Signal Mountain High School sophomore Emily Pérez is an exception, having overcome the typical barriers — time and motivation to write, and funding to hire an editor and designer — and releasing her first novel, "Yesterday She Was Tiffany," in January, at age 15.
Her motivation factor was spurred by National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, in November 2015. The internet-based creative writing project challenges participants to write 50,000 words during November, and Emily reached that goal with the first draft of her novel.
The young adult thriller follows high-achieving high school student Ophelia Ingalls, who begins to question her sanity as she experiences a series of increasingly strange events.
"It's a fast-paced, entertaining read," said Emily, who sees her peers as the book's target audience.
While writing the novel took dedication, she spent the majority of her time working through the editing process, which involved six drafts over the course of 14 months. She originally thought she'd be designing the book cover herself, but when interviewing editors, she found local Jocelyn Bailey, who was just starting her own publishing company, Word One, which also offered design services.
"Being able to hold the book in my hands is really cool," said Emily, who's held book signings at Signal Mountain High School and Chattanooga WorkSpace, and plans to hold another at Signal Mountain Library in April. "It's ultimately a dream come true."
A large part of making that dream a reality was raising funds, which she did through a campaign on Kickstarter. She'd heard about the platform, aimed at helping people in creative fields get the financial resources they need for projects, and decided to give it a try once she realized the cost of editing and design: $2,820 for editing and another $350 for layout and design.
"It seemed like a really great way to get the community involved," Emily said of her Kickstarter campaign.
In less than 30 days, she raised $6,815 — $200 more than her goal — from 93 donors.