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Not The Heroine, She's The Author: Teen Knows YA Market

While many kids her age are busy dodging their summer reading assignments, 14-year-old Maya Bode has just wrapped up her second book. Writing her second book, that is.

A voracious reader too, her bookshelves are stocked with the young-adult fiction of Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth and John Green. Her work is kindred to theirs, but she is a contemporary to those book’s protagonists. She’s fine with that ambivalence.

“I think it really doesn’t depend on age as much as kind of mindset and perspective and different topics,” Bode said. “A lot of times adults’ opinions are really similar to teenagers, more so than we each give each other credit for.”

Persistence fueled her first novel, Tess Embers, which chronicles the exploits and adventures of a teen who morphs from typical adolescent into a spy. And it held strong for her second novel, When Winters Cross, which swaps action for introspection. The books’ protagonist, Lexi Cross, spends the majority of her time pondering the meaning of life and the reaches of the universe.

Her creative counterparts have muscled multi-milliondollar publishing contracts. Bode is among the growing number of authors taking advantage of new technology and is acting as her own publisher. The difference here (aside from booksales, thus far, Tess Embers has sold about 350 copies) is of course her age. She's in the same demographic that is normally the target of young-adult genre and the success of series such as The Hunger Games and Divergent.

Five months of research about the self-publishing process, conducted in tandem with writing her books over the past two years, and maintaining an A average at school, followed Bode’s declaration to her parents that she wanted to present her work to the masses.

The statement was not a shock to her parents, Brian and Shana Bode – reading and writing has been an integral part of the Bode family’s time together – but it did bring pause.

“As an adult, you have all these questions of how and what, and nothing stopped her she figured it out and kept coming back to us, nothing stopped her,” said Shana Bode. “She made it happen and we’re just so proud of her.”

Fans of Bode’s work are proud of her too.

“You are amazing! I live in Fort Collins and I'm 13 and currently trying to write a book. You're so inspiring!,” read a post on ask.fm, one of eight online platforms Bode maintains for her work.

Bode balances all that social activity with contemplative time. She said her initial writing process – completed in her basement “book nook,” the family’s staircase, or at the desk she bought in anticipation of high school – is insular. It’s not until she has a completed draft that she seeks constructive criticism from a few close friends, her two brothers and her parents.

Seeing concrete evidence of her hard work has been “surreal.”


“The whole story is in that book, it’s just really weird to think about at first,” said Bode as she recalled receipt of her first shipment of books. “But it is also really exciting. Especially when you find that everything is OK with the format and the cover it’s really relieving.”

Bode, who also sings, plays percussion and taught herself guitar, said she finds validity in all art forms but appreciates the clarity she derives from the written word.

“I think when I’m talking to people or talking in general I don’t necessarily think about what I am saying and what it means,” Bode said.  “Art is a really good abstract way to sort of connect with people and understand each other and relate to each other. I think it is really powerful.”

With two books self-published, Bode is not ready to say she’ll pursue a publisher. She's still young yet and doesn’t want her current passion for writing to define her future. 

“I’m trying to be really open,” Bode said. 

Arts District is a collaboration of KUNC, RMPBS, and KUVO.

A native of Stamford, VT, I call(ed) the Berkshires of western Massachusetts my home. The Berkshires are a culturally rich area -- I’m talking pass the butter and heavy cream -- rich.
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