Time is never on my side; I must have said this a million times, especially these days. Being a publisher takes a lot of my time, most of it, but being an author makes it worth it. Part of the perks of being an author is meeting wonderful new people when you least expect it. Meeting talented young kids is a gift. I happened to meet the neatest kids at my last event. It was a signing at a library. Two kids stood out. Different personalities. A comedian and a serious young girl. I visited with them both. The girl, shy, the young boy was hilarious. Both super neat kids. Small took at first took place but the longer we visited I realized this the young girl seemed wise beyond her years.
“I’ve heard of that book,” she said, pointing to The Greenlee Project. “I want to read it.” I handed her the book and told her she could have it. Her eyes lit up. “Really?” She asked. I nodded. “Of course. I hope you like it,” I replied. “I’ve been bullied,” she said softly. My heart sank. We talked a little bit about her situation but then the conversation turned to her love of books, reading and writing. “Are you a writer?” I asked. She smiled and I knew at that moment, yes, she was a writer.
I asked how old she was, sixteen. I was shocked by the words that tumbled out of her mouth next. ” “I’ve written many things, including a novel.” A novel! At sixteen years old! That’s over a hundred thousand words. I told her I was impressed, which as an author and a publisher I truly am. That’s a huge commitment. Work. Dedication. We visited for some time, sharing information about writing, publishing and this ever-changing industry. After the event, she took the time to email and tell me that she’d read and loved my book. As an author I appreciated that a reader took the time to do that. It meant a lot to me. Especially since she was a reader and a bully victim. She said she loved the book, my characters, and the message. It touched me. So much, but not as much as she impressed me.
“I haven’t read her novel, but I’ve read excerpts. She writes the way she talks and conducts herself, older than her years. I’m so impressed with this little girl, young lady, I should say. The fact that a young girl could finish a novel is impressive no matter the subject matter or style of her work. I don’t know what will happen with this piece, but I love the direction she’s going since I know the synopsis. I’d like to take the time to introduce her to you. That said, I’m proud to introduce Destiny Lawson.
1. As a child were you an avid reader?
Yes, as a child I was a very avid reader. I always loved having books and stories read to
me even before I was able to read myself. However, I do admit that I didn’t start reading
on my own until I was in third grade because it was rather difficult for me. Once I was
able to, though, I couldn’t take my nose out of whatever book was around!
2. Poetry, the first words that I strung together that meant something to me. What were yours?
Poetry was the first type of writing I did for fun. In elementary school, I did enjoy the
creative writing assignments that we were assigned, I never did it outside of school. One
day when I was in fifth grade we were writing poetry for Mother’s Day and I realized
how much fun it was. I can’t remember if I had ever written poetry before (though I’m
sure that I had) but it really stuck with me. I began writing all different kinds of poetry,
and it was then, sitting in one of those little plastic blue chairs as my teacher asked me
about my writing, that I realized that I wanted to make other feel the way I felt when I
read one of my favorite authors.
3. What is your purpose regarding writing: to entertain your audience, teach (deliver a message) or release from within? (Some people often use writing as means to share what they normally couldn’t through fiction).
My purpose when it comes to writing is to make people feel. I want to pull on their
heartstrings, make them sob, make them happy, make them talk after the story is over…
All I want to do when it comes to write is feel. I want them to feel alive. If they
understand the moral of the story (which every story or poem I have ever written has
some kind of moral) then that is just a bonus.
4. Is there a particular writer that you believe has influenced you?
Of course! So many writers have influenced me. The author who made me want to have
others feel was J.K. Rowling. Oh, I loved her books!I
read them all in less than a month when I was 10; also when I was 11 years old, my aunt sent me the book “Eragon” and I completely fell in love with it. The author, Christopher Paolini, spent nearly half his life writing the four novel series, which he started when he was twelve years old. That very much inspired me to keep writing even though I felt it was a lost cause because if he could do it, why couldn’t I? I usually keep a slight fantasy undertone to most of my novels, hinting at magic and knights in shining armor. I have also been inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, whose work I have read at length and own all the completed works.
5. My thoughts regarding my work and objectives once I’m gone are these. “If my audience says I loved that character or that story made me cry or think, I’ve done my job as an author.” What are your goals or objectives with the work that you produce?
My goals as an author is to touch people. It’s the same thing as my purpose for writing
because I don’t write in hopes of making a quick buck or to make a name for myself. I
write to make people feel something. I write to make people understand something or to
change them. I write to make people understand something that is going on outside their
own circle of existence that matters.
6. Many writers or people that would love to create a story line, dream of finishing a novel. You are sixteen years old and have already finished your first piece. I find that amazing. Truly. How many pieces did you write before you started your novel?
Honestly, I can’t even count all the pieces I made before I started my novel. I wrote
dozens upon dozens of short stories and poems (not to mention all the novels I attempted
to write before this one. That number is easily above thirty).
7. How long did it take to finish your novel?
The Closet isn’t my first completed novel, but the first one I did complete took me about
two and a half years. The Closet however, took me only a matter of months.
8. You subject matter, much like Greenlee, though entwined in fiction is a relevant and heart breaking topic. Was it difficult to write?
Parts of this were very hard to write because I have people who are very important to me
who are transgender or genderfluid, which the main character is, and it physically made
my stomach and chest hurt at certain parts because not only did I have to write very
heartbreaking scenes, but I decided to make the novel really hit home I had to put a bit of
myself in it, so I made the character biologically homosexual. The parts where I had to
write about Dru, the main character, being persecuted because of this was so very hard
because I know others in that position. I love who I am and who my friends are, but I
knew the best way to make people understands some of the things that the LGBT
community goes through was to show the worst case scenario, so I had to imagine and
9. I have an adult novel I’m currently writing. Three hundred thousand words in, it will have to be cut (a bunch). It’s required additional research I haven’t had time to complete. If I’m unable to complete the research the novel will not make sense. Did this piece require a lot of research?
Well, I wouldn’t say a lot of research, but I did do some. It was mostly for the
introduction, however and how people died when being hung (as that was a the main
character’s biggest nightmare).
10. If so, was the research difficult?
No, the research was fairly easy. I typed in the question online, went through and read
through several different websites, then I had what I needed.
11. I’m a visual writer. Greenlee had several scenes that as a writer/author made me
cry, and I wrote them. I have kids that age. The scenes, as a parent, were brutal.
11. Were there scenes that you wrote that broke your heart?
There were several scenes that broke my heart. Heck, there were entire chapters that I
was nearly sobbing as I wrote them, but I knew that they were needed and without them
the story wouldn’t be the same.
12. If so, why?
My best friend, a wonderful human being, is not only genderfluid, but also pansexual. As
I was writing, even though Dru had no physical likeness to my friend, I kept picturing
Dru as them and it devastated me. Of course I knew that in our modern society such
things as were in this novel would never happen, but it was still awful to think about
because I know my friend would never back down on their beliefs and in a society such
as the Dystopian portrayed in The Closet I know that my friend would surely die for that.
13. Fiction that delivers a message can be used as such an important tool. It causes your audience to talk, discuss, start a cause etc. Do you believe there’s a message or you could produce works (even fiction, like Greenlee) that can help your targeted audience?
I sure hope so. The entire reason I wrote this novel is because I was startled by the
number of transgenders, especially teenagers, who were killing themselves because their
family disowned them or told them they were ashamed of them… Or simply refused to
believe them and said that it was because they were angry they were forcing this upon
their family. I was shocked, appalled and truly distraught over the matter. I wanted to make people understand what they were doing to these children… I didn’t know what to do. I talked about equality on social media and in school, but it didn’t seem like it was making a big enough difference when I read later than same week how a 14 year old boy (the same age as my best friend so it really hit me hard) was in the hospital in a coma, recovering from a suicide attempt. It was then I knew that I had to do something; so I started writing in hopes of making people understand what they are doing to each other.
14. If so, was that planned or did it unravel as you the words leapt off the paper and came to life?
It was planned to an extent. I knew that I wanted to set it in a dystopian and that the main
character was going to be transgender and biologically homosexual, but the extent to
which I put Dru through, and how horribly he was treated by his not only his peers, but
adults and government officials, who are supposed to protect him, just bled from my
heart down through the pen to stain the paper. I had a vague plot when I started, but the
more I wrote the quicker it evolved into something bigger than I could have ever planned
for it to be.
15. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the most important advice I could ever give an aspiring author / writer is to invest wisely in a solid editor. Every editor edits differently and edits different genres. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ editor. You are young, sixteen. What have you learned so far? What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
The things I have learned aren’t just about how to properly punctuate a sentence or create
believable characters. They’re more than learning what publishers are looking for and
what’s popular. I learned a lot about myself. I have learned that I am not only creative
and good with words, I’ve learned that I need to write. The thought of doing anything
else with my life make me want to cry me. All these other dreams I had as a child, singer,
musician, teacher, veterinarian, all now seem hollow and unfulfilling to me. I am a
different breed, if you will. My breaths are made of creative thinking. My blood is made
of ink. My skin of paper. My mind of wonderlands never before discovered. I can’t tell
you the amount of times I’ve whipped out a pen and written ideas on my hands, arms,
knees, legs, so I won’t forget them. I am emotional. I get attached to characters, but when
the time comes I know I can do what must be done with them for the greater good of the
novel. I might be very limited in years, but I have lived a thousand lives through my
characters and it has taught me so much. The advice I would give to an aspiring author is something I’ve said to all my friends who dream about shooting for the moon. It’s even said by a character in T he Closet “Don’t be afraid of the unknown for it’s where we make all of our greatest discoveries.” It doesn’t matter if you have the best editor or the largest publishing company, if you’re afraid, you won’t get anywhere. You can’t be afraid of diving into the deepest, sometimes darkest, parts of yourself to pull something up to the surface to write. Everything that is known has already be discovered, but to discover it, someone had to trudge forward into the unknown, the darkness, to find it and bring it back, make it known. So, this advice works for anyone who has a dream. “Don’t be afraid of the unknown for it’s where we make all of our greatest discoveries.”
16. What are your future goals regarding the pieces you write? (Rewrite, another novel. Series. Sequel).
Well, it varies, quite honestly. For certain books I have written I plan on doing a
complete rewrite where others I want to do a sequel. For T he Closet , however, I think I
will leave it as it is. The ending is something that I could suppose could allow for a
sequel, but if I were to do that I think it would lose something. If I were to expand it, then
it would lose something critical to the story. I fear that it might lose its moral. I’ve toyed
with the idea of writing a companion to it, perhaps even a companion series depending on
the character’s point of view, but it is not something set in stone. Then again, I suppose
me not doing a sequel isn’t either. There is always a chance if I think I could use it to
create another tale with an important moral.
17. Who’s your favorite character from your novel The Closet ?
This one is very hard for me because Dru, the main character, is such an amazing young
boy. He deals with being transgender in a society where if it were found out he would be
killed. He deals with being seen as everyone in the world (aside from his father) as a girl
because that’s how he was born. He is strong willed, determined, kind and thoughtful. He
is one of the best characters I have ever created and yet his father is as well. His father is
a well off man who was raised in a religious household that emphasized love. This he
carries with him his entire life so he is constantly risking himself and his very life just to
make his son happy when he is at home. He always stands up for his child even when it
puts him in a bad place or makes him look bad. He is 100% dedicated to his child and
would do whatever it takes to protect him. My mother, who is the only parent I have ever
really had, helped to inspire this character because how he is towards others is the same
way my mother is. Willing to give you the shirt off her back and her last dollar to anyone
who needs it more, but if you hurt her children or someone she loves she will stand her
ground and never back down.
Both of the characters are characters that if they were real I would want to always have
them around. They are genuinely good people who stand up for what’s right, just in
different ways and even if the other doesn’t think so. The father was originally in the
novel a lot less, but then I realized that he needed to be in there to help Dru, his only
surviving child, through this, because that’s what a good parent does. Dru tries to protect
his father because, even as a child, he knows what will happen if his father is caught
buying him male clothes or talking to him as if he was a biological boy, but he soon
realizes that his father couldn’t live with himself if his son wasn’t happy. They are both
so amazing, and inspired by people I love so much (the father is based off of my very
own mother, who I love more than life itself and Dru is inspired by several of my close
friends) that I don’t think I could ever pick just one.
19. What’s the title of your next piece?
The title(s) of the next two pieces I’m doing is T he True Battle and F rom The Ceiling.
The True Battle is about a young teen girl who battles who has met with God the Devil
and tries to understand which is truly good. F rom The Ceiling is about a suicidal boy who
has “everything anyone could ever want” and feels like he has no one to turn to. The
morals of these stories are meant to teach people, just like The Closet.
20. What does Destiny do for fun ☺ ?
Well, I write. I write A LOT. I write songs, poems, short stories, blurbs (even if I never
really intend to write the novel), plays, novellas, all kinds of things. I never let a day go
by that I don’t write s omething, even if it’s just a little pickmeup
for the support page(s)
I have on Instagram. That being said, I a m only sixteen years old, and I love social media.
Instagram and Tumblr are my FAVORITES. I a dore them, especially the fandom
accounts about H arry Potter, Supernatural, Hetalia, Deathnote, The Mortal Instruments
and a number of other ones. Also, music is my life right under my family and writing. I
would be perfectly content having my earbuds in all day and just listening to music
instead of socializing with people (which, admittedly, I do a lot at school because I can’t
bring myself to turn off the music). I listen to all different types of music, but my favorite
three genres are Country, Alternative Rock and Screamo. I also draw, paint, read (I love
reading about all kinds of different genres), hanging out with friends, texting, talking on
the phone, hanging out with my family and friends, cuddling with my cat while watching
scary movies and doing what any teenager likes to do. I do all kinds of things as my
interests vary from things like tarot cards, rune casting and fortune telling to things like
pie, cake and attractive celebrities.
Excerpt: The Closet Copyright © 2015 by Destiny Lawson
“I love you. Don’t you ever doubt that,” he whispered before running his hands through his light hair. It was the colour of the sun, just like my brother’s. I wished I looked more like my father because then maybe, if I didn’t look so much like mother, maybe it wouldn’t pain him to look at me sometimes. “I’m just scared for you.”
Of course I nodded softly. I knew he was. The only reason he was so harsh sometimes was because he couldn’t bear to lose me like he had everyone else in his life. It was just me and him now… He couldn’t go on if something happened to me. “I’m sorry, Father,” I whispered, trying not to cry.
“However, if this,” he gestured to me, all bound and tied up in my masculinity. “Is what you want… I won’t stop you,” his voice sounded pained as he sucked in a deep breath. “Come, I have a present for you.”
Following him down the hallway, I was confused by what he wanted to give me. I had just broken the law. I had just expressed myself, even though it was in the private of my own home… We could both get in a lot of trouble. Finally we came to his room where a box with his name and old address is scribbled on the side is what he pulls out from under his bed.
“This was to be for your brother, but he died before I could give it to him,” he pushed the box into my arms as I looked up at him confused. “Clothes. New clothes… I couldn’t bear to give them to someone else’s son, but I guess my son wouldn’t mind if I gave it to his brother.”
My eyes watered and I dropped the box to wrap my arms around my father. Of course I couldn’t wear them out and of course I couldn’t show them to anyone, but my father knew who I was and still loved me. He loved me even though I wasn’t the daughter he wanted. He accepted I wasn’t a female, though the government never would. This cemented it. He would do anything for me. My father was a good man… Good enough to put his life at risk for my happiness. – Excerpt: The Closet Copyright © 2015 by Destiny Lawson
Post Copyright © 2015 by Amanda M. Thrasher
www.amandamthrasher.com The Greenlee Project