Student Profiles - Abigail Henson
Class Year: 2014
How long have you been doing creative writing?
I have been writing for a long time, it started when I was 11 or 12 when I had a class assignment to write a short story. I loved that assignment! I started to write and write and then I had a "short" story that was over a hundred pages. It became a book and not a short story. It was about a girl who was in a concentration camp during WWII.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
I started to want to be a creative writer when I was 15.
How did you get the idea for your book?
When I was 15 I took a "Writing the Novel Way" course, which is when I started writting my book. I got the idea from wondering around my grandparents' farm in western New York, I was eight at this time. I made up the three characters, Melodie, Zanne and Jayzeel at the farm.
When you were writing it, did you plan to get it published, or was it purely for your own enjoyment?
I didn't think about getting it published when I was in the class, but when I finished the rough draft, I realized how much I liked writing and I thought about publishing it. I have been working on editing it for about seven years off and on.
Have you been published before?
This is the first thing I have had published.
What is the book about?
Here’s how the back of the book reads: For all those who felt out of place and dared to make a change. Jayzeel lived in an orphanage when he hatched a plan to run away. Along with two friends, Melodie and Zanne, they sneak away from the orphanage, fall into a portal, and are transported to Nebalia—a land full of excitement and danger, good and evil. The trio soon learns that this mysterious and mystical land was overtaken by a cruel tyrant who injected the place and the people with his poison—after he destroyed the rightful king and queen. Jayzeel, Melodie, and Zanne decide to avenge the takeover and embark on a sensational quest to oust the monster. Their journey takes them far away from Yorkshire, England, into the Tyrainean Jungle, over the Emerald Mountains, through the Dungeon of Doom, and to the Aramist River—along the way they befriend and bedevil elves and dwarves and mermaids and all types of wildly weird creatures.
Will Jayzeel survive the battle and return to the City of Lights as king of Nebalia? Will he discover the whole truth lurking within the darkness of his past? Will trust and friendship overcome manipulation and greed? Only those brave enough to open their hearts and minds will learn the secrets of Nebalia."
Once you finished the book, what was it like trying to get it published? Did you immediately succeed or were there rejection letters?
It was very hard to get the book published. I did have a lot of rejection letters. However, part of the problem was that I kept sending it in before it was really ready. When I was finally done with it, I had put it aside for a little while. I started on other projects. Then I went to a writers' conference and a publisher was there talking about publishing and his methods of determining how a book is good or not (other than just reading it and liking it). He has a mathematical program that gives him numbers and depending on the numbers is how he decides to publish, and it also gives him the grade level (depending on sentence length and how long the words are). He offered us the opportunity to send him our manuscripts and he would put the book through his program and tell us its numbers. He called me two days later and told me that my numbers were really good. The lower the numbers the better. I got a few zero's and ones (which it good), and most of my numbers were all under 10 (really good). I don't fully understand this (English major, not math). Anyway, he asked me if he could publish my book and after reviewing the contract I said yes!
Do you feel that Millersville has helped you as a writer? Any professors/courses in particular you’d like to note?
I think that Millersville has helped me a lot. The papers and projects have helped me become a better writer and more confident. Dr. Timothy Miller read my book after publication and told me I was like C. S. Lewis! As Lewis is my favorite writer, this is a huge complement!
How long was the process, from idea for the book to the published work?
I spent seven years writing this book, I started fall of 2006 and it was accepted for publication in fall 2013. In September it was accepted and that same Christmas (the beginning of December) it was published. We had two months to get it out. It was a huge feat! My father, Steve Henson, is an artist and he did the cover design. He only had about two weeks to create the cover. That was hard for him, and nerve-racking for me!
What are your plans?
I am graduating this Christmas with a B. A. in English. I also have to put out the sequel for the next book by March. I have a contract for four more books in this series, so I am going to be working on that for a while. I am not sure what I want to do after school. I am considering working in publishing, editing, content writing, possibly going on to my master's degree. I plan on writing for the rest of my life as long as I have stories to tell. As of right now I have a few other ideas for novels, but who knows what the future will bring.