Seven-year-old Douglas native Emily Bastien published her first book this year, making her one of the youngest published authors around.
“When I’m reading, I get adventures in my mind and it’s really, really cool,” Emily said.
According to her mom, Bridgette, Emily started reading at age 4 and began spinning her own stories soon after with spelling help from the staff at her aftercare program at Whitinsville Christian School. Before long, Emily was returning home with stacks of original stories, all of which Bridgette kept around the house.
Emily said reading sparked her imagination and inspired her to spiral off into her own worlds — ones filled with brave knights, Egyptian pyramids, and towns made entirely out of plastic bottles.
One day, Bastien said, as she was dropping her daughter off at school, Emily turned to her mother and declared, “Mommy, when I get older I want to be a famous author.”
Bastien said she was struck by Emily’s conviction.
“I literally had goosebumps,” Bastien said. “My reaction was, ‘OK baby, I’ll do whatever I can to help you accomplish that goal.’”
So Bastien began compiling all of Emily’s stories and the two sat down to decide on a final list of 10 favorites for a possible book. The family researched the publication process and took note of the difficulties that first-time writers encounter, whether they’re 7 or 47. They decided to self-publish a collection of stories titled “Aqua Tales” (after Emily’s favorite color) using the online self-publication service Createspace.com.
“It’s a family investment. . . . I said, ‘I don’t think I should limit her, because she’s not over 30 or she doesn’t have an agent or she’s not a known person.’ ”
“Aqua Tales,” illustrated by Emily’s teen cousins Isaiah Michel and Geoffrey Price, deals with problem solving and the pitfalls of social interaction. The stories’ themes include bullying, self-acceptance, and learning to listen and respect others. They also have a recurring thread of faith in Christian values.
Bastien said as Seventh Day Adventists, religion has been instrumental in her family’s life.
“Whenever one of us is dealing with challenges, whether it’s at school or at work, we collectively pray about it or talk about it or say, ‘Let’s go to the Bible and see if there’s a story that helps you figure out the best approach,’ ” Bastien said.
Since publishing the book, Emily has taken it into the community, conducting storytime at her church, and donating books to local schools and nonprofit organizations. Her mother said Emily’s friends have taken notice and are inspired by their classmate’s accomplishment.
Emily said her friends think “it’s awesome” that she published a book and “now everybody wants to publish one.”
Carly Sitrin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @carlysitrin.