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Class trip to Hopewell Rocks inspired first novel for young author
Maika Branch will soon be a published author, quite an accomplishment for an eleven-year-old, who was inspired to write a book on a class trip to Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick.
Maika pitched the idea to four publishers at last fall’s Word On The Street festival in Halifax, three turned her down, but one said yes.
The novel, titled Calagarmii Cliffs, features two protagonists, Emma and Kayla, who go on a field trip.
“Then they sneak off and explore the many caves there on their own,” says Maika. “In one particular cave, they find an entire enchanted world and there, they must make new friends and fight evil enemies to get back home.”
Maika’s mom, Lidia, says, at times, her little writer has a hard time taking a break.
“Maika is just very, very driven,” says Lidia. “She has a genuine passion for reading and writing. One time I told her that she could do something for herself, stop writing as a break, she picked up another pad of paper and started writing another story.”
Psychologist Charles Emrrys says not every child has what it takes to be a novelist.
“Parents are going to watch this and say, “ok, I want my child to be a novelist,’” says Emrrys. “It’s not going to work. The child has to want to be a novelist. The child has to have an ability to make it and then work at it and then the parent has to be ready to say I will support it.”
Terry Biles, from Redemption House Publishing, had kind words for the young author.
“Maika is such a pleasure to work with,” says Biles. “She has a natural storytelling ability, well beyond her years and we are excited for the release of her first, and probably not her last, book with the RH youth program.”
Maika says her target audience is eight to 14 and says, if she had kids, she would totally buy them this book.
When asked what her secret to success was, Maika said making use of the expertise around her, her parents, teachers and librarians, was key.
"I had a lot of help and I would of course love to thank my school, they really planted the love of writing in me. I had a lot of help from friends and family and I couldn’t have done it without them,” says Maika.
The book hits store shelves this April.
With files from CTV Atlantic's David Bell