Teen pens book of young girl growing up in 1890s
Friday, January 11, 2013
Visitors to a craft fair at the Nashua YMCA purchased gifts, ranging from knitted hats to homemade cookies to dog toys. Many also asked for autographs from a young author who was promoting her new book.
Dozens of copies of a new release, “Kissimmee’s Newport: 1894,” were being signed by teenage author Emily K. Murphy, 16, of Merrimack, who greeted people from a table bearing copies and a large poster, “Meet the Author.” More than 100 books of her book have been sold.
Emily, a junior at Trinity High School in Manchester, now has two books to her credit. A fictitious, first-person account set in regency England, titled, “Mary Hartford,” was co-written with another word crafter, Mary Leonarczyk, 17, a classmate at Trinity High. The pair wrote the book in diary style.
The “Mary Hartford” opens with a note that the book’s namesake is writing her first diary entries. She lives in a tenant cottage and wonders what the future will hold, whether the family will “become desperately poor, or rich beyond our wildest dreams.”
Mary and Emily, through the persona of Mary Hartford, promise that, “If we do have an adventure, it will be preserved in these pages.” The lure is intriguing to the book’s target audience, young adults.
The hubbub at the craft fair also showed support for Emily’s book, “Kissimmee’s Newport: 1894,” published by A Snowy Day Publishing & Distribution, a family-operated business in Bedford. The firm also was the publisher for “Mary Hartford.”
“Kissimmee” took shape after Emily went on a family outing to the Rhode Island tourist destination – the Newport Mansions, summer homes occupied mostly between 1865 and 1916 when the Vanderbilts and other tycoons generated vast fortunes in shipping, industry, cotton and other businesses. The mansions are under stewardship of The Preservation Society of Newport County.
Emily’s story focuses on Kissimmee, a young lady living in her family’s summertime cottage in Newport. Kissimmee doesn’t much care for the rules of polite society. In fact, she breaks them at every opportunity.
Kissimmee, 9, refuses to wear the fashionable styles assigned to youths of the late 1800s. Not for her are the long skirts and bodices heavy with embroidery, so difficult to wear when jumping and running. Kissimmee prefers wearing pants. She plays billiards. She teases a brother who follows his mother’s every rule. Her adventures are bold but are they conducive to developing maturity?
Emily began writing “my Kissimmee book” when she was 12. She said her parents, Janet and Dennis Murphy, and her sisters, Theresa, 14, and Lucy, 11, are her biggest fans. Her mom is quick to note that in second grade, Emily began writing a series of guides to fire safety and potty training, followed by a guide to new babies.
“My Kissimmee book started with notes on the edges of my class-agenda book,” Emily said. “A friend said I should be writing on paper, so I went to paper and, pretty soon, to the computer.”
The Kissimmee book took two years to write and two years to refine. She met the publisher, Sal Spiritos, and his wife, K, at an event at Thornton Ferry Elementary School in Merrimack. Sal’s wife has penned several published books, all set in New England. A Snowy Day Publishing & Distribution produced, from start to finish, the most recent.
The pair encouraged Emily and her mom to follow-up with a meeting about the Kissimmee book’s future. Now, thanks to A Snowy Day Publishing & Distribution, Emily said her book and “Mary Hartford” are on sale for $9.95 at Barnes & Noble, and through the publisher. Amazon is a distributor. Downloadable books for Kindle and Nook are available.
“Mary Hartford” is a diary-style book set in regency England. a young girl living in a tenant cottage admits that the journal is her first diary. She promises to chronicle all her adventures and pens questions about what will happen in the future to her and her family. Will they become rich? Will they face searing poverty? The tale is intriguing and the book has been well received, agreed the collaborators.
Holly Lavine was among the first to buy Emily’s book at the craft fair. Lavine teaches third grade at Ledge Street Elementary School in Nashua. Lavine was drawn to buy a copy of the Kissimmee book, perhaps for its cover art rendered by Melissa McCormick, 16, of Manchester and a junior at Trinity High.
“Kids need to take a risk and put their thoughts on paper,” Lavine said. “Seeing this book in print – it almost makes you cry.”
Emily said writing a book, especially about a particular period in history, is a challenge. It is a flexible, fluid activity.
“Open your mind to history,” Emily said. “You’ll discover a world that no longer exists. Just write and keep writing. You can always go back and change it.”
The public is invited to two book signings on Jan. 19, and Feb. 2, at Barnes & Noble, on South Willow Street, in Manchester.