By KATE LUDLOW
One can describe teenagers in many ways, but lacking in imagination is rare. So while it is unusual, it is no surprise that 15-year-old Elisabeth Wheatley was able to come up with a story so imaginative that she was able to turn it into a book, which will eventually become a series.
Miss Wheatley of Bertram recently had her first book, The Key of Amatahns, published and has big plans for where the story will head.
“I decided to create my own world one day. Then I just sat down and wrote the story to go with it,” she says of her fantasy book.
The Key of Amatahns is aimed at the young adult set, and features Janir, a young girl with magical powers. She begins an epic quest for the long-lost treasure, the Key of Amatahns.
Miss Wheatley says that she is attracted to the fantasy genre based on its notions of chivalry and clearly defined sides of good and evil. She keeps a strict writing schedule.
“I write in my room with my door closed and my little brother banished. I try to write 1,000 words a day,” she said. “Usually, I average between 6,000-9,000 words a week.”
While the writing was easy, at times the process was not, she said.
“It got frustrating,” she said. “I’d write one, and there would be typos and I had to go back and look at every single word.”
The Key of Amatahns is intended to be book one in a seven-book series, and she is currently working on the first draft of book two. She works with an editor in Alpine and a press in Georgetown. The Key of Amatahns was edited by Dr. Walt Herbert, Professor Emeritus at Southwestern University.
Miss Wheatley was born and raised on a ranch between Liberty Hill and Bertram filled with goats, sheep, donkeys, horses, turtles and more. Her father is an engineer, her mother a stay-at-home mom who home-schools Elisabeth and her three younger brothers. While her youngest brother is “not very interested, he’s too young,” the other two brothers are extremely supportive. They read her stories as they are written, though they lean more toward drawing rather than writing.
“My brother was the first person I showed it to, and he’s the first one who reads the drafts as I go along,” she said.
Her mother instilled in her a love for reading, and she considers Madeleine L’Engle and Gail Carson Levine among her favorite authors.
Though it’s easy to draw comparisons between Miss Wheatley’s book and series featuring characters like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, Miss Wheatley has a fierce determination to create something original.
“I don’t want to mimic anyone. I want to be my own person,” she said. “Of course I want to be successful, but I still want my words to mean what I say.”
While most of her peers are pursuing interests stereotypical of her age group, Miss Wheatley enjoys a wide variety of activities.
“Well, other than write, I make my own cheeses, I keep bees….they’re for personal use. We make candles out of the wax. With the cheeses, I’ve made cheddar and colby, I’ve experimented with parmesan and next I want to do gouda. The way we were raised, my parents wanted us to do these things. To make things,” she said.
The Key of Amatahns is available on www.Amazon.com in paperback and a Kindle edition. Miss Wheatley uses CreateSpace self-publishing tools to sell through Amazon, meaning that when a copy is purchased, it is immediately printed and shipped, eliminating the traditional amount of backstock and cutting down on potential waste.
As for the future, Miss Wheatley is still uncertain.
“I don’t really know what I want to do later. I want to get the rest of this series written…But the future is an open book,” she said.