Amelia Haily Naicker, a 14-year-old pupil at Southlands Secondary School, is no average teen. At 13, she accomplished something extraordinary by publishing her first book.
Entering the teenage years is a time of change and growth, both physically and mentally, as teenagers navigate school, friendships, new interests, and their evolving identities. However, Amelia stands out among her peers with her remarkable achievement as an independent novelist.
Amidst the boredom brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Amelia decided to embark on a writing journey.
With pen in hand, she let her thoughts flow onto the pages of a hardcover book. The process of transferring her handwritten work onto a digital format proved to be a lengthy task, but Amelia persevered with determination and a cheerful spirit. Having recently moved to Hillary, she spent her childhood in a home located in Havenside, along with her three siblings, aged three, eight, and 14.
Amelia’s mother, Melanie Gunpath, shared that Amelia developed a fondness for books after receiving her first one.
“There are no writers in the family. No avid readers or any teachers. She just picked up a book a few years ago and found a love for reading. So we bought her the Harry Potter series, and she finished the whole thing,” Melanie explained.
Inspired by her admiration for the Harry Potter series, Amelia crafted her debut fantasy novel, ‘The Golden Piece.’ She began writing the story at 12 and completed it by 13, a testament to her creativity. In an astonishing feat, Amelia took the initiative to self-publish her book.
When questioned about how Amelia managed such an achievement, her equally surprised mother stated,
“We have no idea. She did it all on her own. We knew she was doodling in her book but not writing her book! The next thing we knew, she was an official author.”
Amelia passionately described her novel:
“Ashley and Peter started their first year of university at the University of Bane Valley, but an attack on their field trip left them stranded. Left to follow the map on a golden puzzle piece. Along the way, they meet the twins, Ben and Leah, and together, have to try to defeat a dark wizard.”
Amelia hopes that her book will inspire others to develop a love for reading, and she plans to continue writing.
Regarding finding a publisher, Amelia revealed that she took the initiative in eighth grade to submit her manuscript to various publishers.
“I started sending it to random publishers. Then I heard back from one that said it got published, but after a while, I heard nothing more from them and assumed it was fake. It was a surreal experience,” the soft-spoken writer shared.
Apart from writing, Amelia enjoys playing the guitar, drawing, sketching, and skating. She is even pursuing learning Italian and coding.
While Amelia jokingly mentioned her interest in becoming a teacher, possibly in the English subject, she expressed her hesitation about pursuing it full-time.
When asked for advice from aspiring writers, Amelia says:
“Just keep trying. If you give up as soon as things get difficult, you would just be wasting your time. As long as you try, you can succeed at anything you put your mind to.”
Story shared by Joburg ETC.