Harbor Springs teen pens novel
Kate Liska, 16, of Harbor Springs began her novel, "Meet Me at the Water," when she was just 15. (Morgan Sherburne/News-Review / October 12, 2012)
Narrow down college choices.
Write a 300-page novel.
You know, typical 15-year-old high school student things.
In July of 2011, Kate Liska, now 16, started a project. She needed to get an idea out of her head. After trying poems and short stories, the idea finally came out — in the form of a novel.
"She was constantly talking out the plot elements and character elements. We let it go," said her father, Jim Liska. "Then, I think in February, she dropped a 90,000-plus word manuscript in our laps."
That 90,000-plus-word manuscript will now be released as a book titled "Meet Me at the Water" that the Liskas published themselves.
"It's exciting. It's overwhelming," said Kate.
She said the idea, as "cliche as it is," came from rock music, particularly following kids who feel rooted to one place, but drawn to another.
"These ideas started manifesting. I didn't sit down and intend to write 300 pages," said Kate. "It was an idea I had to get out. A poem wasn't working, and short stories weren't working. So it just grew into a novel eventually."
The novel's protagonist, Sam Nowak, lives in rural Indiana, but feels his future lies in California, with his band and a music career.
Along the way, he runs into maybe a typical rock 'n' roll path: sex, drugs and struggles with religion.
"(Religion) was an innate part of their upbringing. The characters are reconciling their childhoods with their futures in terms of their religion and their desires versus their career and personal futures, as opposed to what they've been taught. In a lot of cases, they contradict each other. Drug use and sexuality doesn't always fit into religion well, and that's where they're headed," said Kate.
She said writing about those subjects was something she was comfortable with, despite the fact that her parents were her first readers. Though Kate said a few moments gave her pause, she wanted to serve the integrity of the story rather than leaving parts of the book out.
Kate is also comfortable with talking about the craft of writing. She's been a writer since she was 8, and a reader much earlier. Early favorites include the Harry Potter series, and now, Kate counts contemporary writers Jonathan Franzen and David Rhodes and science fiction writer Ray Bradbury among her top authors.
"I grew up reading. It was second nature. I was probably read to before I can remember," she said, later adding that her first forays into writing included pretty typical concerns of 8-year-olds.
"I wrote short stories about animals and poems about ice cream," said Kate. "Around middle school, it was this dark, moody, no-one-likes-me (writing). It goes through phases, just like everything else."
The book is available at the bookstore Between The Covers in Harbor Springs, where Kate also works. It's also available as an e-book and for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.
Between The Covers is hosting a launch party for Kate at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, at the bookstore, 152 E. Main St. in Harbor Springs.
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