A bell rings, a door clatters open and patrons walk in, passing a small desk stacked with books and attended by a young woman. “Secrets” is the title. Many ask if the book is hers, and whether it’s her first book or not.
The 19-year-old responds cheerily that no, this is her second book published, so far at least.
The smiling face behind the desk is Katelyn Schneider, junior and creative writing major at Western.
Having two published books under her belt makes Schneider a seasoned author, but what stands out most is the age at which she began writing: 13.
Schneider’s books fall into the young adult genre, a section of literature that is marketed towards teens. However they offer something more than most other books in the genre can offer, being written by an actual young adult.
Schneider’s most recent title, “Secrets,” follows main character Victoria Laine and her developing relationship with a mysterious Nick Avery, a boy who is full of secrets, Schneider said.
“It turns out that Nick is what’s called a Protector, and their purpose here is to protect human beings both from themselves, and from these other mythical creatures that are called Valkyrie,” she said.
“Secrets” is the product of a young mind driven to do things that many at such a young age feel is impossible, Schneider said.
Schneider’s literary start came in the form of a vacation, when at 13-years-old she was struck with the idea for her first book on a trip to Leavenworth with her family, Schneider said.
Camping out in the computer room for three months, Schneider emerged with her first book, “Tweaked,” but it was only after her father suggested they have it published did she consider the possibility, she said.
“If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have even thought I could do it,” Schneider said.
Schneider’s father Jeff Schneider said that when she approached him about having a book she wanted to publish, he certainly encouraged his daughter to pursue the idea.
“I fully believe that everybody should follow their dreams and do what they have a passion to do, so I completely supported her and her endeavors of writing,” Jeff Schneider said.
The publishing process is one with many avenues, but Schneider opted to forego an agent and went straight to the independent book printer Inkwater Press with her book, getting “Tweaked” published on her first try.
When Inkwater had accepted the book, Jeff said that he called in disbelief to clarify how selective the publisher tended to be.
Sean Jones, the acquisitions director for Inkwater Press, said that while it isn’t exactly rare to see manuscripts from a younger generation come through the door, Schneider’s writing stuck out.
“It definitely happens, but it certainly was refreshing to get something that was as well written as her work was,” Jones said.
Jones said that often first-time writers like Schneider will use Inkwater’s publishing services as their beginning foray into the world of book publishing.
“Her first novel was really to try things out I think, and see if writing was the thing that she wanted to do and was good at it, and both of those things were confirmed, at least for me,” Jones said.
Jones said that as Schneider continues her journey into the world of publishing, Inkwater Press would be thrilled to publish another book for her.
Previously having attended Spokane Falls Community College, this past year has been Schneider’s first at Western, Schneider said. In that time her writing has seen a boost, with her having found great support in the English department, she said.
Cathy McDonald has taught three English courses with Schneider in attendance, and said that she had to have been very industrious to accomplish a literary feat at such a young age.
It isn’t often that McDonald sees a student come through her classroom already having published anything, and those who do usually opt to go the online route.
“Rarely do you see someone that has had something in print,” McDonald said.
Schneider said that McDonald’s teaching style certainly helped foster her writing in a new location.
“McDonald has really helped to do what she can to promote creativity and that’s really helped to get my creative juices flowing,” Schneider said.
“Secrets” doesn’t ride the cliché literary wave of vampires and werewolves that has poured out of the young adult genre in the past years, Schneider said.
Instead, Schneider said that she created her own mythological creatures to populate her story, backing them up with deeply researched Norse mythology.
Currently Schneider is writing the second book, in a series of three, that began with “Secrets,” she said.
The second book, however, is taking much longer than the first because it requires more research into the mythology her books are based on, she said.
“There isn’t a lot of Norse mythology apparent in the first one, but in the second one I definitely bring that in the spotlight,” Schneider said.
Schneider’s sister-in-law, Samantha Schneider, has watched her career grow into what she has made it today, and is an avid reader of her books, Samantha Schneider said.
“Watching her grow as an author has been an experience that not many people get to have with their favorite author,” Samantha Schneider said.
Samantha Schneider said that the dedication that her in-law has exhibited has been astonishing, and that she is eagerly awaiting the second book in the series.
“I keep begging her to give me the manuscript which she won’t do, she’s going to make me wait,” Samantha Schneider said. “But I keep wanting to read it.”
Having published a book at a young age, Schneider is eager to share the possibility with younger generations.
In Spokane, Schneider would visit classrooms that had read her book and see firsthand the potential of young writers, Schneider said.
“That was me like six years ago as a thirteen-year-old,” Schneider said. “I looked up to authors.”
Persistence is the key tool Schneider offers to those who are looking to publish a book, no matter what stands in someone’s way.
“A lot of young people think ‘oh I’m just too young for that,’ and it’s really interesting to see them realize that ‘I’m not too young for that, if I want to do that, I can do that,’” Schneider said.