|Writing talent launches student into publishing world|
|Written by Nathan Staller, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Monday, 10 October 2011 21:00|
For ISU student Kali Shevlin, an idea that began in a high school gym class took her into outer space, landing her a book publishing deal.
Shevlin, a senior English studies major born with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder, has refused to allow her disability to limit her capabilities.
Since she was a toddler, Shevlin has been a writer at heart, even coaching her mother to transcribe her first story at age three.
From that point on, she has worked hard and succeeded in winning young author awards twice in grade school, being published three times in her high school literary magazine and being a book critic for her community college newspaper.
Perhaps her greatest achievement was accomplished two years ago when she published her first novel, “Battle for the Stars.” Although she was an avid writer throughout high school, the idea for a novel didn’t come about until she made a bet in gym class.
“I was tired of people talking about ‘Desperate Housewives.’ So they said that if there was something worth reading they would read it. So I told them I would write something, and I did,” Shevlin said.
Shevlin immediately got to work, but it wasn’t always easy. As she began to write more often, classmates who were less passionate about writing gave her a hard time.
“Kali could not talk to these classmates about her writing, so she talked to me instead. This is when I first learned of her book idea and I’d like to read it as she wrote it,” Susan Johnson, Fine Arts and Foreign Language Division Chair at LaSalle-Peru Township High School, said.
As all teachers do, Johnson eventually began to help Shevlin with proofreading and critiquing the novel. The two worked together after school and eventually the relationship blossomed into much more than a student-teacher bond.
“I trust her because we have become friends and she always encourages me … she and my mom are my biggest supporters,” Shevlin said.
It was this support of friends and family that helped Shevlin through a difficult time when publishing her book.
“It was hard work because much of the promotional duties to sell my book fell on me, but I kept going,” she said.
Through thick and thin, Shevlin worked to get her novel published. For her, the novel wasn’t just a bet made in gym. The novel now had a deeper meaning and it needed to be told to the world.
“‘Battle for the Stars’ is about how everyone is special and unique, and no matter how small we feel, we can make a difference,” Shevlin said.
Although the book hasn’t made much money, Shevlin made it clear that it was never a financial decision.
“I don’t do it for the reviews, I do it for my craft … I incorporate everything I have learned as a student to improve my English proficiency,” she said.
The persistence and strength of her will has proved what her book was meant to show to the world. To those closest to her, that is what they are most proud of.
“She could have taken the ‘easy’ way out after high school … but no. In spite of her disabilities and lack of financial support, she will be earning her degree very soon,” Johnson said.
Shevlin’s work has not stopped. Currently she is working on the follow-up to her first novel.
“This summer I finished the revising [of the second novel] and now I’m working through the editing process,” Shevlin said.
In this novel, Shevlin will be addressing racial hatred and religious destruction. With a new publishing company, she hopes her book will be more widely received so many people can hear her message. But she also realizes that too many people no longer read at all.
“Reading is not something we should give up. It is something that will help us learn,” Shevlin said.
Shevlin’s writing, and more importantly her life in general, has become an inspiring image. With each word that she writes, she proves that even though you may be born with a disability, you have the ability to overcome anything.