Young Author Inspires
The journey from high school assignment to published novelist has been a dream come true for Crystal Lake native.
It’s not every day a teenager gets published. In 2015, a year after graduating from Crystal Lake Central High School, Sarah Natale’s (Mondello) first book, “The Kiss of Death,” hit book shelves. She’ll be reading an excerpt from the book, discussing the inspiration for the story, as well as signing copies at noon, Saturday, July 23, at Read Between the Lynes on the Woodstock Square. (Event page here.)
A Book’s Beginning
The impetus for Natale to write her story in 2014 was surprisingly commonplace: a high school English class assignment from teacher Jerry Thiel.
For the final assignment, Thiel assigned a historical fiction piece. Although Natale had never written historical fiction before, she knew of a specific topic of interest: the bubonic plague.
“The plague was simply so fascinating to me,” she explained, “I remember reading about it in fourth grade. It was mysterious, elusive and I was drawn to the tragedy and drama that arose from such a fast-spreading and deadly disease.”
After receiving her teacher’s topic approval, Natale began researching and writing her story. Having chosen a topic focused in the 14th century, Natale found research difficult to come by, but engaging in the search made her newfound knowledge all the more rewarding.
When she reached the 10-page writing requirement, she realized the story wasn’t finished, so she wrote on. She turned in a what would become her first novel.
The story follows Elizabeth Chauncey, a young woman longing for love, who finds herself in a struggle for survival amidst a backdrop of deadly plague in medieval London. In a world molded by loss and death, Elizabeth’s test is one of strength and faith, despite the grief that surrounds her.
The story went on to win the 2014 Helen Wright scholarship in Creative Writing from the Woodstock Fine Arts Association (WFAA). “Quite stunning,” said Kristine Hall, WFAA scholarship committee member and executive officer. “Writing historical fiction accurately yet still making it readable and interesting is a remarkable talent.”
That summer, armed with a novel and scholarship, Natale began her quest to get published. Although it didn’t create any leads, she learned a lot. With her first semester at Drake University under her belt, she gave it another shot. On Christmas Eve, her persistence paid off and she got a book deal from Kellan Publishing.
Beyond the Pages
Natale wears a lot of hats as her own publicist and graphic designer, and she even created a video trailer for her book. After teaching herself Common Core, Natale has begun working on lesson plans so that teachers may incorporate the book into the classroom from art to English and biology to history.
All of this in addition to her studies in creative writing, PR and graphic design at Drake. For her Novel Writing class, she’s working on a sequel to her first novel tentatively titled, “The Kiss of Life.”
Find Natale’s book at Read Between the Lynes, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.