|Five-week effort results in 1st
novel for Canton teenager
BY BRAD KADRICH
Like any self-respecting father, Rick Carter of
Canton thought his daughter, Aimée, had a particular talent, and
he encouraged her vigorously to use it.
And, like many fathers, he wondered whether his
urging was doing any good.
When he tripped over his birthday present, he
knew Aimée had listened.
Aimée's talent? Writing. The results? Her first
published novel, Phoenix Ashes -- the fictional tale of
a young boy's struggles to understand life -- was written as a
birthday present for her father.
"It was a total surprise to me," said the
57-year-old Carter, a network engineer. "I bugged her for a
while, because I thought she had the talent. Then one day I
walked out of my room and tripped on it. I opened it, and it was
Aimée, a 16-year-old Canton High School junior,
smiles at the thought of having fooled her dad, coming up with
excuses like, "I can't think of a plot," or "I have writer's
block." The book comes some 18 months after she first took a
serious interest in writing.
Her first efforts were "fan fiction" on the
Internet, stories in which the author takes someone else's
character -- for Aimée it was primarily Harry Potter -- and
creates new stories for that character.
Aimée first came across the genre when she was
11 and, after a few years of doing that, finally decided to give
writing a shot on her own terms.
"After years of reading it, I figured why not
write it?" said Aimée.
Because of her fan fiction writing, she has
developed something of a following on the Internet, where she
first developed the characters that would appear in her novel.
Her first character, Zachary Lucas, is an orphan struggling with
life's hardships and disappointments.
Zach's best friend, Minty, walks alongside him
through life, as "a means for Zac to go over things he's
learned" in life. Although Minty is a product of Zac's dreams,
Aimée leaves it up to the reader to decide whether Minty is
The idea comes from Aimée's self-professed
inability to remember her dreams.
"I've always wanted to be able to, but I never
remember my dreams," she said. "That was the original thought
that ran through my mind, and it kind of morphed from there."
The main character, Zac, struggles to learn an
important message: That all is not lost, no matter how bad
life's struggles. Aimée presses the idea that people should
"step back" and realize things aren't always as bad as they
seem, that "life is great if you just choose to look at it that
It's the primary lesson taught to Aimée by her
mother, Michele Ouellette, who died six years ago but remains a
central influence on the teen-ager's writing -- and life.
"She's the one who made me realize the message
the book tries to get across," Aimée said. "She was a great
person, and I think she'd agree with everything that's in the
When her dad read the book, he thought it was
good enough to publish. He started surfing the Internet looking
for publishers and found Word Associates, based in Pennsylvania.
They liked the idea, and the book, and recently published it.
"I think everyone has someone they would have
liked to walk along with in life," Rick Carter said. "It reads
really well, but then again, I'm her dad."
When she found out Word Associates would publish
it, Aimée said she stood in the hallway jumping up and down and
screaming. Even now, she admits, she still has trouble
recognizing what an accomplishment it is.
"I know it's an achievement," Aimée said. "I'm
basically a very insecure person, so I refuse to admit the book
is any good."
She might not want to admit it's any good, but
at least one reviewer said so. Writing for BookReviewClub.com,
reviewer Jenny Bev wrote, "This is a novel about endurance,
friendship and enlightenment ... written with utmost care and
craftsmanship by a talented author."
Aimée's legion of Internet friends and readers
haven't seen the book yet, but there have been some 1,200
responses to other stories she's posted.
She likes having that kind of feedback.
"They read my stories, they review them, and
they talk to me about them," Aimée said. "That's what I value,
the honest opinions they give."
Aimée plans a trilogy, and has already finished
the second manuscript. She and Rick are currently negotiating to
have the second one published, and Aimée has gotten started on
She's not sure she can make a living at writing
-- "The possibility of actually making enough money to live on
seems small," she said -- but wants to give it a shot. If not,
she wants to be a psychologist or psychiatrist.
"I want to help people," she said. "I don't want
to be one of those corporate CEOs who just takes money from
people. I want to make a difference in the world, helping people
who can't help themselves."
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