Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 16, 2013

Student’s literary endeavors thunder into print

Sophomore Rebecca Harwell recently published her first novel “The Thunderbird Project.”  The science fiction book centers around the idea of “dark superheroes”. (Courtesy of Rebecca Harwell)

Sophomore Rebecca Harwell recently published her first novel “The Thunderbird Project.” The science fiction book centers around the idea of “dark superheroes”. (Courtesy of Rebecca Harwell)

Sophomore Rebecca Harwell has been writing for publication since she was 14, when she wrote her first novel. This past summer, she became a published author.

Her first published novel, “The Thunderbird Project,” is about a group of “dark” superheroes that have to come back together and work on tracking down a killer before they are destroyed.

“The theme is really about what it means to be human and an outsider,” Harwell said.

She was drawn to the topic of dark superheroes through her love of comic books and criticism.

“It was always unbelievable that characters really liked their super powers and that it never interfered with their daily lives, so I kind of wanted to show the darker side to powers.”

Harwell wrote “The Thunderbird Project” her senior year of high school. The writing process was more complicated than simply sitting down and writing the novel.

“I plan my novels. I outlined the major scenes, plotted story arc and character arcs and developed the characters, so in extension built the world. Then I added in the rules and science fiction elements,” Harwell said.

Once she felt that the novel had been completed, Harwell sent it out to various publishers and awaited an answer. When she received a few rejections, she took the time to review and revise the text.

“I wrote about 3,000 words a day when drafting. The revision took a long time though because it was pretty intensive. It was a lot of reconstructing things, changing villains and re-doing character motivation to make it stronger.”

Harwell realized that perhaps sending her manuscript to various big name publishers was not the way to go. She decided to send a pitch to a small-time publisher, realizing that there may not be a big enough audience for dark superhero science fiction yet. After reading the pitch, the publisher asked for the whole manuscript. A few months later, he got back to her and told her that he wanted to buy it.

“I just started screaming and running around my room. It was the first day of spring break so there was no one to tell so I just called my parents,” Harwell said.

It has been about a week and a half since she got her own agent. Harwell has intentions of continuing to write while finishing school at Knox. Once her agent pitches her story, she hopes to hear back about having a second novel published.

So far, having an agent has not changed her everyday life, but only added a lot more of revising to her writing for second novel “Young Adult Space Opera.”

Eventually her agent will pitch the story to major publishers with the hopes of an offer.

“Having an agent doesn’t interfere with my daily life, but just is more pressure to write more and write well,” Harwell said.

Samm Nordstedt

Tags:  agent comics novels Rebecca Harwell superheroes The Thunderbird Project Young Adult Space Opera

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