Some folks spend all their lives daydreaming about writing a book “someday”, until “someday” comes and goes, and they’re lying on their deathbed, and their dreamt-of book never came to fruition. Nathalie Thelemaque, the fourteen-year-old author of Misconceptions: A Collection of Short Stories and Poems wasted no time. She dreamt of writing a book of her own, and has released her debut Misconceptions, published through EducaVision, a publisher that specializes in Haiti-themed books, and educational material.
In spite of her age, Thelemaque manages to write stories with themes that one might think are beyond her understanding. “A Daughter’s Forgiveness” centers on a neglected daughter who lives in the shadow of a famous painter father. Not everything in the book is intense though. In the poem “First Day of School”, Thelemaque treats the jitters and uncertainties of going into new social territory at the height of adolescence, while the character Avery in the short story “Remembrance of Her Childhood” treats the importance of building memory.
Born in Florida to Haitian parents, Thelemaque has always been active on the creative front, playing the piano—and letting her imagination guide her in the creation of the written word. In addition to balancing school, and a burgeoning writing career, Thelemaque writes a poetry column for The Circle Gazette, a newspaper for young kids. She recently experienced one of the first initiation rites as a published author with her first ever book signing for Misconceptions.
Q & A
How did you feel when you held your book in your hand?
When I first held the book, I felt bewildered at the whole situation. Though I love writing very much, I never thought that I would be capable of writing a book that would be published. Having written so many stories and poems over the course of many years and having them spread on different computers around the house, it’s rewarding to have all my work organized in a manuscript that I can use to share my thoughts with others.
And how was your book signing?
My book signing was very successful; many of the invited guests came, expressed their enthusiasm towards reading the book, and gave positive feedback.
You actually play the piano too. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
I have been playing piano for about eight years, being inspired by my sister and cousin who started before me. I practice the instrument everyday, in preparation for the several recitals that I participate in, including a holiday concert put together by my friends and I for our families.
How did you get the idea for your short story “Cherry Blossom”?
For a very long time now, I have been interested in Japanese culture, including the beautiful cherry blossom trees called Sakura. So, I incorporated that idea with the subjects of someone leaving home school to go to a Charter school, friendship, and coming of age.
How was the publishing process for you?
Well…it was a challenge to get my family and friends to go over the countless stories that I had written in the past and come to terms with the ones to be published. The publishing company was very receptive to our ideas and helped us greatly in the process. We went through a few drafts, different fonts, and a few colors for the book before finally achieving the final cerulean-colored copy.
What do your friends and teachers think of your book?
My friends and teachers have been very supportive of my book. They all inspire me so much, so it thrills me to know that they share my excitement and are very proud of my accomplishment.
Is it hard dealing with schoolwork, friends, parents, piano lessons, and life as a writer?
At some times—yes—it can be stressful dealing with the many activities in my life, but my parents always try to keep me on task so I’m not overwhelmed.
When was the last time you went to Haiti?
Unfortunately, I have not been to mainland Haiti yet, but I was fortunate to touch the soil of Haiti through Labadee. on the cruise that I went on to Labadee, I was able to witness the beautiful landscapes that my parents pointed out to me and saw that Haiti was surrounded by mountains.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing or playing the piano?
Whenever I’m not doing those activities, I enjoy drawing, reading, talking with my friends, playing tennis, volunteering in the community, playing video games, and learning and practicing different languages.
And what advice do you have for aspiring authors, young and old?
I would advise any aspiring authors to keep on reading and writing. There are always stories to tell; it’s a great thing to keep expanding one’s mind.
You can show your support for this budding author by purchasing her book here.