Between the Lines: Fair Oaks teen talks about her self-published book

04/22/2014 12:00 AM

04/21/2014 12:24 PM

Self-published authors are legion, but not many of them are as young as Sara DuToit of Fair Oaks. The 16-year-old El Sereno High School independent-studies student, singer and fan-fiction writer devoted two years to writing and editing “Hoodview,” available at www.lulu.com and www.amazon.com ($13.91 to $14.37).

It’s the story of a teen girl who is murdered by the Hoodview Strangler and “brought back to life” in possession of special “abilities” she “keeps hidden.”

“I have been writing since I could write – stories, journals, parts of books,” she said by email.

We had a few questions:

The protagonist, Nyx, must deal with a “new normal.” How does that connect to real social pressure in high school and the notion of being “different”?

My message to my peers is to just be yourself. Forget what everyone else is saying about you; it doesn’t matter. Who you are and what you do (are) what make you unique, and (being yourself) will make you a lot happier than trying to fit into someone else’s definition of “normal.”

Did you learn anything about yourself from the writing process?

It didn’t lead me to any big revelations, (but) after the fact I realized that the struggles I faced in real life had manifested themselves in my book in fictional forms. Certain aspects of the storyline and some of the characters reflected emotions I’d felt and personified some of the roadblocks I’d experienced. They say to write about what you know, and I ended up doing so inadvertently.

Why do you write?

Writing for me is like being in love. It’s messy and complicated and frustrating to a point where you really just want to give up. But there’s something about it that keeps pulling you back in, that makes you work to fix the problems, and makes it all worthwhile because of the pure joy it brings you despite all the pain.

When I was younger, reading was one of my only escapes from a hard childhood. I wanted to let somebody out there know, through my writing, they weren’t alone. They, too, (could have) an escape through reading. And if they found that haven in my writing, that’s all that matters: that it meant something to somebody, even if it’s just one person.

Where do you think your writing talent might take you?

I don’t really have any expectations about (that). I don’t even see it as a talent. It’s something that I do, whether I’m good at it or not. I’d like for people to think the stories and books I write are well-written and intriguing, but … all I really do is hope for the best and try to take opportunities when they’re presented or, if not, try and make some of my own.

‘The Keeper’ launch party

New York Times best-selling novelist John Lescroart is always a busy guy, concocting his legal thrillers in a neat but memorabilia-stuffed second-floor office near downtown Davis.

Next on his agenda is hosting a launch party for his new story, “The Keeper,” the 17th title in his San Francisco-based Dismas Hardy/Abe Glitsky series (Atria, $26.99, 320 pages). Join him at 6:30 p.m. May 6 at Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St., Davis. Come for his reading and discussion, stay for the live music, appetizers and wine.

Book signing: ‘Resister’

Former Sacramento Bee entertainment editor Bruce Dancis puts the antiwar movement back in the spotlight in his memoir, “Resister” (Cornell University Press, $29.95, 384 pages). In meticulous fashion, he recalls the tumultuous student and anti-Vietnam War protests of the 1960s and their lasting effects on our culture. He also shows how the music scene reflected the changing mores of the day.

Dancis’ activism as a draft resister and his role as organizer of the “first mass draft card burning during the Vietnam War” contributed to a 19-month sentence in federal prison. He will appear at 7 p.m. April 30 at Time Tested Books, 1114 21st St., Sacramento; (916) 447-5696.

Fiction to watch for

Readers are in constant need of their next books, which might be among these works of fiction:

“The Intern’s Handbook” by Shane Kuhn (Simon & Schuster, $25, 288 pages): HR Inc. is a “placement agency” that matches interns and temps with corporations. But those “interns” are really seasoned assassins whose work ethic is literally murder.

“The Three” by Sarah Lotz (Little, Brown, $26, 480 pages; on sale May 20): Four simultaneous plane crashes on different continents are a stunning coincidence, yet what captures the world’s attention is the trio of children who are the only survivors.

“Hyde” by Daniel Levine (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , $24, 416 pages): This clever debut retells the classic horror novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson. The twist: It’s told from the perspective of the “evil” Edward Hyde. Perhaps Dr. Henry Jekyll wasn’t such a victim after all.

On the subject of Scottish author Stevenson, the historical novel “Stevenson’s Treasure” by Mark Wiederanders reimagines his great love affair and marriage in 1880 to Fanny Osbourne (Fireship, $18.50, 360 pages).

“The Fracking War” by Michael J. Fitzgerald (Mill City Press, $16.95, 406 pages): Hydrofracking for natural gas is a controversial topic in the news and in this novel takes center stage. An investigative reporter in upstate New York covers a “citizen rebellion” and the resulting sabotage as communities unite against a major corporation.

“The Warrior’s Bride” by Amanda Scott (Forever, $8, 432 pages): The third entry in the “Lairds of the Loch” series continues the high adventure in ancient Scotland. Romance writer Scott of Folsom is a meticulous researcher known for her historical and geographic accuracy. Visit her at www.amandascottauthor.com.

Awards at UC Davis

The UC Davis campus was abuzz last week over the announcement of one of its own winning his second Pulitzer Prize. The latest for history professor Alan Taylor was for “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832.” His first, in 1996, was for “William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic.”

The honor overshadowed two other recent wins by UC Davis staff. English professor Yiyun Li won a Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her latest novel is “Kinder Than Solitude.”

History professor Ari Kelman won a Bancroft Award from Columbia University for “A Misplaced Massacre,” exploring the 1864 massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians at Sand Creek, Colo.

Upcoming

• Ben Tarnoff for “The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature,” 7 p.m. Wednesday at Time Tested Books, 1114 21st St., Sacramento; (916) 447-5696.
• The annual Sacramento SPCA Spring Book Sale returns to offer hundreds of new and gently used titles in most genres at bargain prices. The fundraiser benefits the SPCA, which cares for 11,000 homeless animals yearly. The sale continues through Sunday at Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, at the north end of the mall near the Macy’s menswear store; (916) 728-1916.
• Jack L. Parker for his four-title “Adventure” series, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 3 at the Orvis Store in the Fountains center, 1017 Galleria Blvd., Roseville; (916) 783-9400. Also: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 17 at the Gold Country Book Festival in the Auburn Library, 350 Nevada St., Auburn.
• The 25th annual Mendocino Coast Writers Conference has opened registration for its three-day event, July 31 through Aug. 2 on the College of the Redwoods campus in Fort Bragg. For details: www.mcwc.org or (707) 485-4031.

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