Hello everyone! Welcome back to my blog! Today I’m going to be reminiscing a little on my past. So here are some thoughts if anyone’s interested in taking a read!
Today I had the honour of visiting my old elementary school, Our Lady of Fatima to speak to their 4-8 students! I was so incredibly blown away by all the support and love I received from the staff and students. So thank you everyone. Truly. From the bottom of my heart.
Sometimes I am so caught up in the rush of my crazy life that I forget where I come from, my humble beginnings, and where it all started. If you don’t know me personally you may not be aware, but The Crystal Chronicles was born at Our Lady Fatima elementary school back when I was in grade 5. It was out in their schoolyard where I did laps with my best friend for hours at recess, planning and developing the entire series.
It took my whole grade 5 year to plan the series and it was in Our Lady of Fatima’s classrooms where the entire novel was written, rewritten, and then rewritten some more. The bulk of the novel was written by my 12 year old self in grade 6. It was then edited in multiple notebooks about 100 times in my grades 7 and 8 classrooms. The only pieces of TCC written after elementary school are the prologue and epilogue, which was written when I was in grade 9. I of course, edited the book in grade 10 but 90 % of my novel was written by my little grade school self.
Our Lady of Fatima is a place of firsts. I wrote my first ever book there, back in grade 2. In grades 3 and 4 I wrote 50 mini novellas in those classrooms. Fatima was the first place where I brought my first printed manuscript of The Crystal Chronicles. It was the end of grade six and that bulk of pages barely stapled together was my lifeline. It was my sole purpose in life, the only thing I really felt connected to. This was my purpose. In that school I learned to write, to make good characters, to make good plots and I slowly learned how to be the person I am today.
Planning and writing The Crystal Chronicles back at my little elementary school are some of my favourite memories of my entire life. It was exhilarating, and it was exciting. I had so many friends and teachers at that school that supported and believed in me. I never doubted I would publish the book but I never ever could’ve foreseen this outcome.
For any of my readers who are still in elementary school or actually attend Our Lady of Fatima, please know anything is possible. If one small idea in a playground can turn into all this, that just goes to show you that if you can dream it, you can do it. This is the message I try to bring to all the schools I visit. Age is just a number. It really is. If you truly love something, you can achieve anything. And that really is the be all end all of my message.
I was a different person back Our Lady of Fatima. Some people would be surprised if I told them that. I was painfully shy and my heart would pound every time I answered a question in class. The thought of speeches or presentations made me physically ill. I never voiced my opinions or thoughts and even though I had a lot of them – I could only write them. I had a few close friends and I was just the girl who was writing a book and who was always writing it in her notebooks. That’s all I felt like I was good at back then. I thought writing was my voice and it would always be my voice. But I was so wrong.
This is for the kids who were shy and timid like I was. Trust me, one day your voice will be heard, even if you feel like that day is not today. You will change and grow into something completely different. In grades 9, and 10, I was still painfully shy and rarely spoke out in class. By that point I was editing and working on publishing my novel. I was no longer the girl that writes books I was now the girl publishing them. Then in grade 11 I had a personality transformation. I was thrust into the limelight, in front of huge audiences and suddenly I had to speak by myself for a whole hour to hundreds of people on the only thing I actually loved: writing and my book.
And suddenly, I found my spark. The spark I needed. And boy, did I ignite. I discovered I loved sharing my story with the world; I loved inspiring students with my experiences and teaching them to love literacy. This was my purpose. To inspire kids to do something great whether that be writing or something else. I wanted to touch the lives of as many kids as possible and there was only one way to do it. I had to visit schools and speak to them in huge gyms and libraries. So that’s exactly what I did. I started touring local schools. To date I’ve spoken at 40 schools around York Region and the number continues to grow by day. I’m now a motivational speaker and an author. You can be so much more than one thing, please believe that.
Also, please know I never started writing for money and I don’t speak at schools for the money. I do it purely for the love of doing it. I do it purely for the kids who are my wonderful readers. And their love and support is priceless. Because in my experience, I’ve learned it only takes one spark, just one, to reach a kid’s ears and inspire something great in them. Every single day I try to be that spark. To try to reach them and make them aspire to do their own amazing things. We are a generation of capability. So just go out and do. It can be whatever you dream of. Just don’t stop and keep your eyes on the prize. You’ll reach it eventually. And even if you stop I’ll be lecturing each one of you to start again and keep going. Think of me like your personal guru. I’m always here for every one of my students and or readers (as many of you do not live in Canada). My contact box is always open. I’m here for you in every way I can be. This is what I want. To give back to this world and leave it in a better state than I’ve found it.
Inspiration is lacking in schools teachers. You have a duty to your students to bring that inspiration back. Strive for that. Always strive for that. And students, work to inspire each other. Great things come out of inspiration. I’ve experienced that firsthand.
If any of you reading this are actually from Fatima, remember this: you can walk those halls and walk at recess and strive for great things at the same time. Don’t be discouraged by anything or anyone. Don’t be discouraged just because you’re a kid at a small little school in Woodbridge. That didn’t stop me and that shouldn’t stop you.
I am eternally grateful for the 40 schools I’ve visited these last two years. Each and every school has encouraged me and has made me into the person I’ve always wanted to be. So thank you for everyone who’s listened to my story. From my Vaughan kids to my Brampton kids, to my Markham kids to my Lake Simcoe kids, to my kids outside of Ontario, to my kids who don't even live in Canada, please remember I love each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.
Anyway Our Lady of Fatima will always mean so much to me. It really is the birthplace of something that has allowed me to touch the world in all the ways I know how. Thank you Fatima. For being the place that built the foundation of my whole world. If anyone from Fatima is reading this, rep us in the comments!
And again, thank you to all my readers and to the ones reading this blog post. I am so incredibly lucky to have this space to express my thoughts.
Hello everyone! Welcome back to another blog post! Poetry has always been something I've been really interested in. I would love to one day release my own poetry book alongside my fantasy YA books. Here are a few pieces I've written over the last few months. Enjoy!
Note: Some pieces below are inspired from the book The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Others are inspired from common human experiences.
They say love is like going to war
I just never understood it until you.
You use your words like an impenetrable shield
These days our bedroom feels more like a battlefield.
We circle each other with our weapons drawn
I use silence and you use touch,
Knowing full well how a mere graze of your fingertips is as lethal as hemlock.
My body goes weak and suddenly I’m down on my knees
But maybe you want that,
So you can turn around and stab me in the back.
You always win those drunken midnight battles
Sometimes I don’t even know what we’re fighting for,
But if this continues we’ll both lose the war.
You love to drop bombs like, “you can’t stay the night,”
So I act like you mean nothing to me
Are we ever going to learn two wrongs don’t make a right?
Yet when I see him with his arms around you
I want to beg for a mercy killing
But when you’re in my arms the next night, it makes it all the more thrilling.
I’m just tired of hurting you and letting you hurt me
But when I close my eyes at night, you’re still the only face I see.
I want to try and make it work
I’ll put down my weapons if you put down yours.
Lets take off our armor.
There’s no need to be so guarded
Lets just finish what we started
After all, you’re all I ever wanted.
Sometimes I think you’re the center of gravity
For the way you pull me to you.
You crawled inside my beating heart
Shattering me into a thousand pieces
Turning me into a shadow of the person I used to be,
Then you took them and put the pieces back differently.
I don’t recognize the new person you assembled.
Driven mad by your intimacy and luring smiles
Overwhelmed with the desire to be as close to you as two pages in a book
Paralyzed by your theatre of expressions and stalking beauty.
Only you can undress me with a single look across a busy room.
You don’t even lift a finger.
You’ve always seen right through my carefully crafted mask
Exposing me in a way I’ve never been exposed before.
Tonight you ask me why I love you
But I’m not sure you would believe my answer.
For I would shed my skin down to the bone to prove it wasn’t your exterior that drew me in.
Darling, I first fell for your soul.
Up in this villa I look down on the city below
Past the fields of green and the cluster of Italian cypress trees,
To the cobblestone streets where the Renaissance men left their legacies.
Where Michaelangelo sculpted the David and spent his time painting
The exact place where Leonardo Da Vinci lived while he was training,
To become a great artist, mathematician, and inventor.
I wish I could take Da Vinci’s wings and fly around the Duomo
To admire its terracotta tiles
I bet from up high, Florence seems like it stretches on for miles.
I want to go to the golden Gates of Paradise
So I can memorize the bible.
I’ve never been one to pray but in this city the Roman Catholics practically sing
Hymns of praise and devoted adoration to a heavenly king.
Someday I’ll leave this Villa and take a walk down to Ponte Vecchio
And visit The Birth of Venus
Or learn about the Medici’s reign,
But for now, staying in this deserted hospital is the only thing that keeps me sane.
The war is not yet over and I can still hear the battle cries
I’ve always thought the horrors of war forces the humanity out of soldier’s eyes.
If the war drops bombs down on this city
The world would weep
And God would look down from heaven stricken with grief.
For Florence has its own eternal heartbeat
And a precious culture bleeding from the stone cracks in the streets.
For now, I sit in the garden beside the fountain
Taking refuge in this Italian haven.
But upstairs my burned man sleeps
While death hovers nearby, patiently waiting for his soul to reap.
These days, life is holed up in these same four walls
The company we keep are the ghosts that roam these bomb filled halls.
The only escape route is the book on the bedside table
Holding clues to the life you once lived
Before you fell out of the sky.
Hurtling towards the earth burning as bright as Hailey’s comet.
The flames covered you in third degree burns and battle scars
And I know you don’t remember who you are.
But maybe it’s better that way.
War turns us all into monsters
And flower fields into cemeteries.
Do you want to remember all the faces that met the barrel of your handgun?
Some soldiers don’t have the luxury of forgetting.
The past can be as painful as my finger touching your charred chest.
I wish I could be as lucky as you,
Or wake up with amnesia.
Because every time I close my eyes I hear explosions,
And the cries of men begging me to save them.
It’s as if death has wrapped me in her cold embrace
Plucking people from my life one by one.
This grief feels like a storm cloud, constantly blocking the Italian sun.
But I swear you’ll be different.
I’ll pull you away from deaths skeletal grasp
And I’ll sit here in this garden hiding from my past.
Shins that are burned black to the very bone,
Unable to touch the skin without pain.
That huge book is the very last thing you own,
And you say the love of your life was slain.
These days you can only lie flat in your bed,
You’ve surrendered completely to my care.
Caravaggio says your best friend is dead,
So while you’re asleep, heaven hears my prayers.
You’re finally remembering who you are,
But sick and tired of living this way.
It was your past that caused those horrid scars,
You hear my begging, but don’t want to stay.
And I wish you wouldn’t ask this of me,
But tonight I’ve decided to set you free.
That's all for now guys! Again thank you for reading! Please check out my Youtube channel at Alessia Dickson, new content will be uploaded very soon! I will also be running another international giveaway in the coming months!
Hey everyone! Welcome back to another blog post! This week I'm going to be sharing who I think, would be awesome to play some of my characters in a potential (and hopeful) TCC movie!
This is all hypothetical of course. If a TCC movie were ever in the works you'd hear me screaming from the hills. Let me know what you think of my casting skills in the comments below! Or share someone you think would be fitting to play one of my characters!
# 1. Chloe Moretz as Alyssa Brooks
There is something striking about Chloe that I always thought resembled Alyssa. Chloe is close to Alyssa's age, and shares numerous physical features. All Chloe would have to do is put on green contacts and she'd be Alyssa Brooks!
# 2 Neels Visser as Haven Reeves
Neels is exactly what I picture Haven to look like. I think the biggest factors is his blond hair and striking blue eyes. But yep. He pretty much looks like he jumped out of my book. Sooo if Neels ever wants to give acting a try... I think he'd play the role well. Also can we just appreciate that middle picture??? Aquarian most likely.
# 3 Maggie Lindemann as Amber Travie
Maggie looks how I always imagined Amber to look. Like perfectly dressed, well kept, and overall, just striking. So can Maggie please get into the acting business? I think we need her.
# 4. Jay Steevie as Zack Travie
Because every movie needs a hot older brother. No but seriously, this is what I imagine Zack to look like, but with green eyes. Wouldn't these four absolutely slay together? Imagine all four of them in that battle scene? Hell yeah.
# 5 Marc Warren as Kurt Bell
God isn't he just so perfectly creepy for Kurt Bell? I can literally see this guy running through the streets of Tokyo. I think he's the right age to play Kurt too.
# 5. Betty White as Elda
Because every movie needs a cute old lady. Plus Betty White is one of the oldest actresses in Hollywood. I think she would own the role of Elda.
Thats all for now guys! I would love to hear some of your opinions and suggestions so leave them in the comments below! And fingers crossed TCC becomes a movie one day!
PSA: I have officially started a Youtube channel! I will be posting content as often as I can! My channel will feature topics regarding writing, publishing, reading, lifestyle, travelling and beauty! I have one crazy life friends! Time to share it with all of you! <3
You can subscribe to my YT channel here:
Hey everyone! I am so honoured to tell you all I am featured on CBC's Our Toronto! If you are interested in watching my segment please click the Youtube link above!
It will also be airing again on CBC television on Sunday February 19th and Monday February 20th at 11 AM!
CBC also wrote an amazing newspaper article on me! Feel free to read it by following the link below:
As always I am so incredibly humbled and blown away by all the support I recieve everywhere I go. This is why I do it friends. To spread a message that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. So here's to changing the world one student at a time!
Hey everyone! Welcome back to another blog post! Today I will be answering some more frequently asked questions! Whenever I give my motivational speeches TONS of people have questions and I can never seem to get through them all! So here are a few in case you were wondering!
Q. Will TCC become a movie?
A. I would love, seriously love if TCC became a movie. I've been told by countless people that it would make a great Hollywood Blockbuster. So if that opportunity comes my way you will hear me shouting from the hills about it. (So check any of my social media basically).
Q. If TCC does become a movie who would you get to play the characters?
A. See, this is such a fun question. I'm not a big movie buff, I much prefer books so I am not too well versed in the world of actors and actresses but I think Chloe Moretz would be perfect to play Alyssa Brooks. I've just always imagined Alyssa to look similair to Chloe.
Q. Is the staff on your front cover the weapon the crystals create?
A. No, the staff on the front cover is not, and I will repeat, is not, the weapon the crystals create. The staff on the front cover is the Society's trademark symbol, the Staff of Asclepius. I can definitely see why so many people ask this! But if you are wondering, of if you are nearing the end of the book, the weapon the crystals create is called the Orb.
Q. What inspired you to become a writer?
A. Well, in all honesty, nothing really inspired me to become a writer. Since the day I could hold a pencil and string together literate sentences, I had wanted to be an author. My aspiration never changed, so I just well, went out and did it. That's pretty much the truth. Sometimes I feel like I was destined to be an author. (or maybe thats me being all self righteous).
Q. Do you have any other interests other than writing?
A. Of course! Gosh I'm not that boring! I like doing things other seventeen year olds like doing, like binge watching Netflix and Youtube. I also work as a lifeguard and swimming instructor.
Q. Can you dab?
A. No. I mean yes technically I could but I don't want too. Somehow someone asks me this at least once a presentation! (lol).
Q. Are your characters based off of your friends?
A. Oh my god no! That would be so awkward. I would hate for someone I know in real life to pick up my books only to find out that they're "in" it. I try to make my characters as fictional as possible. Plus, my friends could never be as cool as Alyssa, Zack, Haven or Amber. (Sorry guys.)
Q. If you could be one Elemental which one would you be?
A. I took my own What Kind of Elemental are you Quiz and discovered I'm an Aquarian.
Q. Do you get stopped by people in your own school because of your book series and writing career?
A. Luckily, no. I don't think I would want that because I would probably die of embarrassment. When I'm at school I'm just a regular kid trying to finish my classes.
Q. Did you ever have a back up plan that wasn't writing?
A. Yes I did have a back up plan and I still have one now! It's okay to have a back up plan, in fact it's better if you do! You never know where life might take you!
Q. Who's your favourite author?
A That's so difficult. Probably Cassandra Clare.
Q. Do you watch anime and get ideas from anime?
A. Yes I've watched various animes in the past. By the time I got into it my book was already on the path to being published. Now quite frankly, I'm to busy to watch any of it!
Q. What's your official job?
A. As of right now I am a full time author, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, lifeguard, swimming instructor, and a stressed out grade 12 high school student.I guess you could say I'm pretty busy.
Q. How did you deal with being different and any negativity/doubt from people?
A. All my life I've known I was different. I liked things no one liked and had dreams that most people laughed at. When I was in primary school in grades one and two people started to notice I was unusually good at writing and that often set me apart from other kids. I learned to let negativity role off my back. I can't control what people think about me, whether it's good or bad. The only thing I can control is the way I feel about myself. Right now, I'm pretty happy with who I am, what I've accomplished, and what direction my life is headed. And that's all that matters to me. Define yourself. Don't let anyone else influence you into being someone or something your not.
Q. Whose your favourite singer/group?
A. This is another question I always get! It's so hard to choose one but my favourite solo artist is hands down Ed Sheeran and my favourite group/band is hands down the Lumineers.
Q. Is Alessia Dickson your real name?
A. Yes! I am not a fan of pen names. I like to claim what is mine and print my real name on books!
Q. What is your cultural background?
A. I always find the curiosity about my life from my audience very endearing. For the record my mothers family comes from Italy and my dads family comes from England. Together they created a very Italian/English name.
Q. Have you visited all the places in TCC?
A. No! But it's on my bucket list! I've only visited Pompeii in Italy. But damn, I'd be on the next flight to any of the other three places if I could!
Q. Can you tell us something random about you?
A. I get this from my junior grades a lot. It's so cute. I'm not all too interesting but I share a birthday with William Shakespeare and my birthday is also Word Book Day. What a weird coincidence right?
Q. Can you drive?
A. Yes! I just got my license a few months ago.
Q. Whats the craziest thing a fan has done for you?
A. One time, this really sweet little girl gave me a portrait of myself she drew and made me a book mark which had quotes that I am apparently famous for saying from my speech. It was pretty freaking awesome.
Q. What's the weirdest thing a fan has asked you to do?
A. I'm not gonna say weird exactly, but one time this kid made me sign his Air Jordan shoes. Another time this girl memorized a song to show me and sang it right on the spot. Again, I love kids.
Q. Are there people who can control all four elements in your book?
A. Yes. That's all I can say about it.
Q. Can you buy your book in Chapters?
A. Yes. You can buy it at any major bookstores but it will have to be ordered to the store!
Q. Are you ever going to introduce a new element?
A. Probably not. The four major elements will always stay the same but some of the smaller elements like ice, metal and electricity, fall under one of the four main ones.
Q. I have an idea for your book. Can you use it in your future books?
A. Hey, I'm open for ideas if you want to share any. I can't guarantee I'll use them but I'll hear you out. You never know, maybe you could use some ideas to make a novel of your own!
Q. Are Alyssa and Kurt related?
A. Oh God no. Ew. Ew. I think the blond hair is the thing that makes people think that. But no!
Q. Why is Elda in a wheelchair?
A. Elda was injured in an accident years ago. That's all I can say without major spoilers!
That's it for now everyone! Again thank you to everyone who always takes the time to ask me these great questions. I love Q and A sessions so much! As always if you have a question you would like to ask me in private, or a question I didn't answer here, just head on over to my Contact Me page!
Hi everyone! Welcome back to another blog post! Today I'm going to be releasing some TCC trivia! These are little tid bits from book one and some spoiler tidbits from the second book! (nothing major though lol).
Alright that's all the trivia I will be releasing for now! Don't want to give too much away lol! Hope you guys enjoyed! I always get TONS of questions on my characters!
PSA: Also for my Canadian readers, if you are interested on watching me on TV CBC has done a segment on me and it will be airing on Saturday February the 11th at 12pm and again on Sunday February 19th and Monday February 20th at 11 am. I'm so excited guys I can't wait! For my international readers I will post the link from the CBC website to watch it if you interested!
Hello everyone! I am very excited to announce in the next few weeks I will be airing on CBC television during one of their Saturday morning programs. The footage will be composed of two things, parts of my motivational speech at one of the schools I've recently visited, and a formal sit down interview! I am extremely excited and as soon as I've confirmed the air date I will let everyone know! So spread the word guys!!!
For now, here are some pictures of my amazing day with CBC at a school I've recently spoken at, Romeo Dallaire Public school!
The students in the pictures with me below were specially selected to read The Crystal Chronicles prior to my visit to answer a few questions about my book by CBC. The six of us will all be featured together on TV! A big thanks to Sivan, Lauren, Kyla, Alyssa, and Ethan for doing some a great job with your CBC interview! <3 <3
As always I am eternally grateful for all the amazing opportunities and all the great people I've met so far. It really blows my mind sometimes. If you told me a year ago I would be on TV, I would've laughed pretty hard It just goes to show that if you have passion for something and the drive to work hard, it really will pay off in the end. I definitely wouldn't be here without all the incredible love and support I receive wherever I go! I now know for sure that I will spend my life working to inspire others to reach their own aspirations.
Hi everyone! Welcome back to another blog post! Cheers to the new year! 2017 is going to a great year, I have tons of new things planned and I can't wait to share them with you all!
Today I've decided to change it up a bit and create my first ever travel blog! I will be posting pictures from Cayo Coco cuba from the hotel Sole Cayo Guillermo just in case any of you want to check it out and possibly visit!
If anyone is interested in possibly booking a trip to this resort feel free to follow the link below!
Thats all for this week guys! I have really exciting news to share with everyone next week so stay tuned! <3
Hello everyone! I hope you're all doing well. In one of my writing classes at school I was recently asked to write and hand in a memoir. I've decided to share the memoir here, as a small memento of my incredible joruney so far. Feel free to read it at your leisure and find out a little bit more about me! I'm greateful for each and everyone of you!
The Calm After the Storm
In my experience, we only find out what we’re made of after a storm. But unfortunately, when it rains, it pours. Four months ago, my storm ended and when the sun finally came back out – I was a whole new person.
The hallways seemed a lot more intimidating the last time I walked them as a grade school student. Now I walk them with confidence, smiling at the group of seventh graders that are staring at me. I follow the librarian as she gives me instructions, the excitement on her face nearly matching my own.
“Alessia,” she tells me as she swings open the gymnasium doors. “They’re ready for you.”
Inside, the gymnasium is packed with students. As I enter, their conversation turns to silence and hundreds of eyes watch me as I make my way to the front of the room. A technician hands me a microphone and behind me, a giant screen rolls down, projecting my website for everyone to see. I wipe my clammy hands on my jeans and begin unloading stacks of books from the box. More people pile into the gym and I watch, as the doors finally slam shut.
“We can start now,” I tell the librarian who takes the microphone and introduces me to the crowd.
The audience is so quiet that I could’ve heard a pin drop. The person I used to be would’ve been quaking with nerves, but the person I am now is filled with nothing but joy.
“Hello everyone,” my voice comes out strong and calm. “My name is Alessia Dickson and I’m the author of the Crystal Chronicles.”
I waste no time, diving into the presentation I know like the back of my hand. I came up with it seven months ago, wanting to spread a message of hope and to shape the minds of the future generations.
I move to the left side of the room calling out for the fifth graders and they raise their hands, blinking up at me curiously. First I explain how my novel was born – seven years ago, out in a schoolyard, back in fifth grade. It was long ago, but I remember it so well.
“I want to write a book about the elements,” I say one day, to my best friend Gregory. “But I don’t just want to write one book. I want to write a series.” He smiles at me as we make our way around the schoolyard.
“I’ll help you plan it out. You’re a good writer and I’m good with ideas. We’re a perfect team.” He’s right and we are the perfect team. So as the other kids play tag and soccer at recess we walk around the schoolyard, bouncing ideas off each other.
“I think the series should take place in different parts of the world,” he tells me. “And they should find a magic crystal in each book.”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” I smile. “And I want the villains to be an evil group... we could call them the Society.”
“That works,” he nods as the bell rings, and we start to line up with the rest of our class. “But we need to name the main character first.”
“I want to name her Alyssa,” I say as we head inside.
“Alyssa sounds too close to Alessia,” he shakes his head at me.
“No it doesn’t!” I argue, defending my choice.
“Yes it does!” he fights back.
I blink once and I’m standing back in front of the huge crowd. I shake my head and bite back a grin. Gregory’s right of course, annoyingly, he’s always right. Alyssa sounds way too close to Alessia but it’s a little too late to change it now.
Next, I ask for the grade sixes and they all raise their hands, their attention clearly caught. Grade six is a special age to me, the age I started the first draft of my book.
Suddenly it’s grade six again, and the entire planning stage of my series is complete. My teacher is droning on and on about math and I act like I’m listening. When I’m sure she isn’t looking, I open my black book and start writing. I left off at chapter two and I’m not too sure if the book sounds good so far.
“Greg,” I whisper sliding the book over to his desk. “Read what I have so far. I’m on chapter two.”
He takes the notebook from me, the pages already starting to curl. He reads chapter one and I wait patiently, hoping he likes it. He slides the book back over to me, and I hold my breath.
“I like it,” he says, clearly approving. “But what does incredulous mean?”
“It means doubtful,” I laugh. “It makes sense don’t worry!”
He stares at me for a second, and I wonder if I said something weird. “You’re a really good writer Alessia. This book is going to be published one day.”
“Really?” The thought sends a thrill racing through me.
“Yeah,” he assures. “But you got to write the rest of it first.”
So that’s what I do. I go home that night and type the first few chapters out and the computer keys feel foreign beneath my fingers. The weeks turn into months and as the rest of my friends play video games and watch television on their free time – I write.
It is June by the time I finish the first draft of the book. As I read it over, I realize something and it horrifies me. The book is bad. Terrible actually. I don’t understand, I worked so hard on it for the entire year! But even as I realize this, I don’t care. I can fix it.
The next day, I ask my dad to print my book at work. I want to show Gregory, and I don’t want to wait any longer.
“How long is it?” my dad asks me in the morning as I hand over a USB key.
“500 pages,” I say. He stares at me for a few seconds and then smiles.
“That’s a lot of paper. It might break the printer.”
“Really?” I ask worriedly. “Will I be able to staple it?”
“No,” he laughs. “But I’ll still print it today.”
I smile at the memory as I tell this story to my audience. Their eyes widen in horror at something so long. I assure them the real book is only three hundred and sixty pages long and they breathe a sigh of relief. The teachers are smiling as I move on to the writing process. I teach my audience how to write, how to build plots and create characters that people can fall in love with. I tell them things I’ve learned firsthand through years of rewriting.
It is grade eight again and Gregory and I are arguing about developing my characters.
“I’m taking out the prologue Greg,” I tell him as we make our thousandth lap around the schoolyard.
“Why?” he frowns. “Keep the prologue. It sets up the story.”
“It needs a total rewrite,” I argue. “A good book hooks the reader within the first few sentences.”
“You already do that pretty well,” he assures me.
“No,” I shake my head. “I’m going to write the prologue in the villains point of view, so this way the readers will meet him first. Alyssa is a good hero but she needs an equally good villain.”
He doesn’t say anything to my proposal. It means he likes it.
The audience is growing restless so I walk down the aisle trying to catch everyone’s attention, not wanting anyone to miss the next part. I tell them about the importance of passion and experience, my two biggest teachers. Even though I tell people, many still don’t understand the love affair I have with the written word. I honestly believe writing is the only way to truly be immortal.
Suddenly I’m back in grade nine and my parents and I are talking about the future.
“Writing can be your hobby Alessia,” my mother tells me. “You’re going to go to law school.” I look down at the table, trying to hold my temper.
“I want to be an author,” I say firmly. “I already have a book.”
“Don’t let your mind go to waste,” she shakes her head. This comment angers me and I jump out of my chair.
“Writing makes me happy! Don’t force me into a career I don’t want to go in!” I am half shouting but I don’t care.
“Do you want to be a starving artist?” she argues. She doesn’t understand and I look to my dad for help.
“We’re going to publish the book.” He finally tells her.
“You’re going to do what?” she is in shock. I don’t blame her. “You don’t know anything about publishing!”
“I’ll do research,” I say. “I want this more than anything.” She looks at me for a long moment, her mouth drawn in a hard line. She knows I speak the truth. I want it more than anything, and I don’t care how hard I’ll have to work.
I pick up one of my books off the table and show my audience; glad I followed through with my promise three years ago. I dive into an entire summary about my series, speaking of magic and a great journey across the world. I mention Brazil, Bermuda, Italy and Asia, all the settings of my future books. I’m smiling like an idiot as I watch the excitement fly across their features. They don’t just like the storyline. They love the storyline.
Finally I move on to my publishing experience and begin to explain what it’s like. The endless hours working with an editor, the fun in designing a book cover and a website. I also mention of course, how it feels at the very end.
It’s February of grade eleven and the first shipment of books are in my front hallway. I rip open the nearest box and stare at my book. After seven years, here it is, in my hands, at long last. I open the book carefully, flipping through the chapters, remembering when I wrote each page. Two seconds later I realize I’m crying but I don’t care. I grab my phone like a crazy person and text my closest friends to get my house. They show up fifteen minutes later, looking just as excited. Gregory arrives last and I can hardly contain my excitment.
“It’s finally here.” My voice is shaking. “After all this time!”
“I told you it would be published one day,” he smiles, looking at the book in awe. “It took seven years but you did it.”
“It was worth it,” I laugh as I pull him inside, running to go sign his copy.
I almost feel powerful standing up in front of this huge audience as I remember my favourite memory. For a moment I almost slip away, caught up in the palpable energy of the room. But then my dad motions to me from the sidelines and I come back to reality. I remind myself what to talk about next and I take a breath.
Obstacles are always my hardest things to talk about because they were plentiful. I don’t want to give anyone the illusion that I live a picture perfect life, not when the audience deserves the truth. So I tell them.
I start with the obvious things. I tell them about editing and how I had to constantly go back and rewrite.
“My writing got better as I grew up,” I say. “And as I matured, my characters matured with me.” Their faces are blank and I am not sure they understand, but I press on. I talk about editing and how I never had enough editing. I edited the book a thousand times but it still wasn’t enough. Editing drives me crazy, I think it drives everyone crazy, but it’s the most important part of the writing process.
Next, I decide to speak about the infamous writers block, the question I get no matter where or I go.
“Writers block doesn’t exist,” I smile and the audience laughs. “Real writers write even when they don’t want to, even if they think their writing sounds bad. That’s how books are completed.”
It’s what separates an amateur from a professional. Besides, nothing I write down is ever set in stone. I can always go back and fix it later. That’s the beauty of writing; it’s why I love the craft.
I take a few deep breaths before continuing. It’s what I always do before I speak about the last thing.
Finally, I tell them about not giving up when things are difficult. I try to focus on the audience because if I look away for a second I’ll remember. The memory still comes anyway, and emotion rises in my chest.
Suddenly, it’s late June and I’m withering in pain on the floor of my room, calling out for something to save me from the endless cycle of chronic pain. I stand up to make myself look presentable again but I don’t recognize the person in the mirror. She is hollow, a ghost, someone who looks like me and wears my face and my smile. I drop down to the floor and try to swallow a sob. The pain is relentless and has been there for the last eight months, twenty-four hours a day, all day every day. It is my darkest hour and I only want to write again, but the lights are too bright and the computer screen sends shooting pain into my skull. I want to give up, to give up on my life and my flawed body. But before I act on the dark thought, I pause, remembering my doctor’s words.
“The pills aren’t the cure Alessia. They will take down the swelling in your brain but you have to manage your pain in other ways, like doing things you enjoy.”
She is right and I’m stupid to forget her advice. So instead I ignore the pain that feels similar to a hammer smashing my head into a thousand pieces, and to vow to fight back with everything in me. I think about Stephen King’s memoir, where he said that writing is a way back to life. He discovers this after he was run over by a truck, and I didn’t understand this until now. So instead of wallowing in a deep depression, I turn to the only thing that brings me joy – writing my book series. My readers are waiting for the second novel and I don’t want to let them down. I remember their love for the characters and the story and I let it fuel me forward. Finally, I decide that I’m writing my second novel and I’m not going to let chronic pain win. I write a page, before I stop to wonder if my experiences in life ever bleed into my story while I write my main character – Alyssa. I hope it does, it makes for great character development after all. A second passes and I know that I spill my heart onto each page I write, and hidden in between the lines, is my own story.
“Writing not only saved my life,” I tell my audience, looking straight at the back wall. “But it also brought me back to life.”
As soon as I finish speaking, a slew of hands shoot up. It’s not just one or two hands it’s thirty. I waste no time and soon I’m running around the room trying to answer each one. They want to know everything about me, stuff about my book, publishing, writing, my life as a normal teenager and everything else in between. I’m absolutely humbled by this outpouring source of love and support, and I blink back tears.
I continue answering questions for what feels like hours. Eventually I answer everything, and I return to my spot at the front of the room. I thank everyone for listening to my story for over an hour. The moment I close my mouth, the entire room erupts in applause. The sound feels almost deafening, even though I know that it really isn’t. I wasn’t shaking before but I’m shaking now in absolute shock. I want to freeze this moment in time somehow, so I can go back to relive it again and again.
I am suddenly swarmed by hordes of children, all with this same awestruck expression on their faces. I don’t know if I’m deserving of such an expression but I do know that each kid is equally precious to me. They shove pieces of paper into my hands and the sweet librarian is back again, leading me out of the mob and towards the table.
Someone throws a pen at me, and before I know it, I’m somehow forced to sign everyone’s slips of paper. Someone makes me sign his shoes and I laugh, as he proudly shows them off. A huge line grows out of nowhere and twenty minutes later, all the books I brought had been sold, and dozens of kids leave the gym with slips of paper with my signature. I’m still not exactly sure if this is all a dream, and I try to coherently express my gratitude to the staff. Their support is priceless, and worth more than what any amount of money could ever give me.
When my dad finally leads me out of the school, I feel like I’m floating. We get to our car and he pulls out his phone, smiling as I realize he filmed the whole thing.
I watch the video with some sort of weird fascination. When I’m speaking in front of an audience I’m hardly conscious of my body, but watching myself on film is different. In the video I look truly happy and confident and the sad, bitter, girl I used to be is long gone, replaced by someone I am proud to be. Someone who’s suffered long enough to know life is precious, and a single life force has the power to create change.
I don’t know what the future holds but I am no longer filled with fear, instead with hope. In life, we either take what’s happened to us and let it tear us down or we let it make us better people. It’s not up to some higher being and it does not lie in the hands of fate. It’s much simpler than that. The choice is ours, and only ours to make.
I’m glad I made the right one.
Hello everyone! Here are my official character designs for the 6 major characters in my series. A big thank you to my artist Koko Le!! Hope you all enjoy!
About the Author
Alessia Dickson is the author of The Crystal Chronicles series. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she is hard at work on her next book.