Neither writer in the title of this post is me.
The first is the fifteen year old who hasn't been making that study of dwarf mythology and culture for nothing. He's been working on a novel. It's been rough going. He's having a hard time not sidetracking himself with new characters and ever-increasing backstory and exposition. So far he's written a single chapter.
The second writer is Kristina Skilling. She's the author of the recently-published Satreih, a fantasy adventure novel for young adults. She was in town today, signing copies of her book. The fifteen year old bought one and stopped to talk with her and get some advice about writing.
Probably worth mentioning that Kristina is only a sixteen year old herself.
Kristina started writing Satreih two years ago. She had never planned on being a writer but she saw an interview with Christopher Paolini, the author o the dragonrider trilogy, Eragon, Eldest, and the soon to be released Brisingr, and she was inspired. Paolini was only fifteen when he started his first novel. That got Kristina thinking, and she set to work. She's never heard from Paolini, but she has exchanged letters with D.J. McHale, author of the Pendragon series of fantasy-adventures---which she heartily recommended to the fifteen year old---and McHale gave her lots of advice that she was happy to pass along to young Man Mannion.
First and best, clear your head, clear your desk, and just write. She had the same problem as the fifteen year old when she started, too many ideas, too many characters, but she decided to just plunge ahead.
Kristina describes Satreih as a book for readers who like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I like the opening of the blurb she's written for her book on her website:
Dark cloaks. The stench of corpses. The Spies of Mosiania have invaded the lands of elves, dwarfs, dragons, witches, centaurs, water nymphs, and werecats. They’ve surfaced to help evil lord Verteq return to power.
I'm hooked. I'd be reading it now except the fifteen year old won't give it up yet. He's on his second reading, having polished it off for the first time in an hour. This time through he's paying close attention to the character and place names. Kristina invented languages for her various characters and, as in Tolkien, the names have meanings and resonances peculiar to those languages. There's a glossary with a pronounciation key in the book.
Skilling is going to be a junior in high school. As far as she knows, she's the only published author in her school, although she's far from the only writer. There's a very active creative writing club which she belongs to. Kristina's mother was hovering by, but her only job today was to take pictures for the website and look proud, which was easy. Skilling handled the many adults stopping by to talk and buy her book with grace and charm---she sold five or six copies just while we were there, five or six more than many authors at book signings manage to sell in the whole time they're at a bookstore.
Kristina published Satreih herself through iUniverse. This is the future of publishing, I think. Saying a writer has self-published her book is going to be like saying an artist has self-painted a picture or a singer has self-sung a song.