Rising 9th Grader Carmen Spoonemore Used Pandemic-Time to Write an Amazon Published Book
When the pandemic hit, freshman Carmen Spoonemore '25 quietly passed on the sourdough fad and instead used her time to write a book: a full-length novel titled “For the Collective.”
“For the Collective” is a dystopian, post-apocalyptic science fiction book in the Young Adult (YA) category. The plot contains an alternative world not unlike the distortion in George Orwell’s “1984” and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” The novel is “an interpretation of Earth in the future: what it could be like and the societal structure then,” says Carmen. Characters are set in “the Collective,” a society with different rules and standards than ours currently. Not only are rules applied differently within the plot — also within the novel mechanics. There is a lot that is left to the interpretation of the reader. Time is unspecified; also the main character’s name and gender. Carmen explains:
I think playing with biases is fascinating; it is a fun way to explore this without being too affrontive. When I read books, I am disappointed when they give a big description of the characters because it takes away the imagination. “For the Collective” is written in first person and I completely avoid pronouns. Whatever the reader thinks or believes the character to be, is correct.
Carmen says that she always has different storylines swirling around in her head. This plotline has been in her head developing, and quarantine was just the final push to put it on paper.
Around June 2020, Carmen would sneak away to a non-operating chairlift at the Snoqualmie Pass Ski Area, where her family has a cabin, to begin her manuscript. And by August, she completed the first draft. Come September, she had finished a pass through with her Dad and was ready to seek publication. Her timeline seems quick but in pandemic-time, she just went at what felt like a natural pace. “I wrote whenever I felt creative, for as long as I could. Sometimes four chapters, sometimes nothing. It is really about doing it. It is about finding those times when you feel inspired and doing something with that inspiration,” says Carmen.
The crazy part is that nobody even knew she was writing a book. “I didn’t share it with anyone on social media. I didn’t tell anyone outside of my family until I was picking covers,” says Carmen.
Despite being written in just a few months, the editing process itself lasted about seven months. Carmen completed a couple different rounds of editing. First, a pass for continuity of characters, plot, and timeline. She also used Grammarly, an editing tool, for her first pass on spelling and grammar, followed by her Dad conducting a second round. She ultimately had a copyeditor and developmental editor that she found on Readsy for final rounds and through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), a division of Amazon, she brought the book from manuscript to print. For those unfamiliar with publishing, these rounds are common and often underutilized.
Her book was officially published on June 1, 2021. As of June 2, Carmen’s book was trending #1 in new releases for children’s (18 and under) dystopian and science fiction categories. This is the same category as “The Hunger Games” series and “The Giver.”
“It feels so cool to be a published author. The outpouring of support from Seattle Academy and my elementary school Epiphany has been amazing to see,” says Carmen. “The whole risk-taking and performance position that SAAS has on so many aspects gave me the courage to start something like this. Making everyone so comfortable with going outside their comfort zone and trying new things definitely had an effect on me.” Carmen Spoonemore ’25
To author a book is a feat to be admired. To do it at 13 years of age is astounding. And to discover that Carmen struggles with dyslexia is downright admirable. “When I was younger, I was very, very dyslexic. I was discouraged from writing, reading, anything — as it was a source of shame,” Carmen discloses. “I wouldn't tell anyone I was dyslexic until last year. There is a correlation between finally accepting, and realizing that it is a tool I can use, and then starting this book a few months later.”
It’s clear that Carmen is not only an accomplished writer but an inspirational student who is embodying the SAAS mission — and encouraging others to do the same. “I highly recommend writing a book at this age. Once you start, you realize you can do this. It is possible. It is about taking a leap of faith and trying,” advises Carmen. “Oh, and the biggest thing I realized is to write something that you would want to read. There will always be someone with similar interests who would love to read what you have written. Never write for someone else; always create for yourself.”
To follow Carmen, check out her website.