Junior writes fantasy novel


Cassell (left) and Miller (right) discuss a difficult portion of Miller’s novel. Though she admits to being “nervous” about letting Cassell see the story, Miller lets Cassell help revise because “she is just one of those teachers I have a lot of respect for.”

Junior Emily Miller has a number of roles she plays in everyday life –  dancer, student ­­and sister. This year, however, she is taking on the new title of author.

Miller is currently enrolled in English teacher Cara Cassell’s creative writing course, which she is using as a springboard for her novel. “It’s frequent in creative writing [[that students work on books],” Cassell said. The novel will serve as Miller’s final project in the class, and she has begun revisions to finish by the end of the school year.

Despite a close student-teacher relationship, she and Cassell don’t communicate much about the novel’s content. “It would be pretty terrifying to share that with [Cassell],” Miller said.

“I think she’s a little bit afraid of going from the place of ‘I’m writing for me’ to ‘now an audience gets to see it.’ That’s a really hard step to take,” Cassell said. “The thing is, the knowledge she gains will help her for the rest of her life, whether she decides to write 20 more novels or whether she just goes through life and does something else.”

One of the predominant life skills that Miller is learning is time management. This lesson comes from her unusual style of writing. She will read one fantasy book like her own for a set number of weeks – usually from one to six weeks – then write for the same amount of time. “Because fantasy is the genre I read,” Miller said, “I read fantasy for six weeks, and then I wrote my book for six weeks to start.” Sometimes, she will take on the task of reading one book per reading week.

This unorthodox approach has gained the attention of her teachers and classmates. “When she says she’s reading a book a week, she’s not taking on short pieces. She’s reading books that will help her manage time,” Cassell said, “which is a very sophisticated skill. It’s impressive.”

Though she is still reluctant to share many details on the novel itself, Miller has willingly divulged the basics. “It’s about a girl who sprouts wings and gets kidnapped by the circus,” she said, “but that’s about it for now. I won’t share the ending.”