Young Adult author Kayla Olson made a special visit to Nona Kummell’s Advanced Creative Writing class Tues., May 1 to discuss her writing process with the aspiring authors.

“Her time spent with the class was filled with techniques for developing characters, using description to its fullest, building the world of the novel and tips for becoming an author,” said Kummell.

Olson is a Denton-Roanoke local who published her first novel, “The Sandcastle Empire” in June 2017 and has a second YA story scheduled to be released this year. Her debut novel was published by Harper Teen and has been picked up by Paramount Pictures to be made into a film with Leonardo DiCaprio as one of the producers.

Bright-eyed and sincere, Olson was more than happy to talk to the students about her creative journey. She began by explaining how she had originally intended to travel overseas to be a translator or diplomat, but later realized her dreams had changed. After a few small jobs, she put together the pieces of her personality puzzle and discovered that writing was the perfect job for her to pursue.

“She was super nice and fun, I enjoyed it a lot! It was so helpful to have such a successful and published author share her story and give us advice,” Brigit Teschendorf regarded Olson’s visit.

Olson continued by answering students’ questions about world-building, revising, publishing, and so many more aspects of the literary world. She told the students how to go about finding an agent and then draft a query letter by revealing her own experiences.

“I thought it was really cool to see someone so similar to myself being so successful,” said Advanced Creative Writing student Rin Jernigan. “It was crazy she decided to come see us. With partners like Leonardo DiCaprio it’s wild to think she would come to Timber Creek.”

Olson not only shared her journey but also asked the students about their own writing experiences and what genres they enjoyed writing the most. She formed a genuine connection with the students and taught valuable lessons in a casual, friendly way.

Following the discussion, Kummell’s students had their own copies of “The Sandcastle Empire” signed by the author herself. Kummell had previously contacted Assistant Principal Jennifer Williams and managed to purchase a hardback book for each of the students. They also received signed bookmarks and personalized cards. Olson later tweeted about the experience saying she hoped to see everyone’s stories on shelves one day.

“Having her visit us really inspired me to reach for my dream of becoming a published author,” said Kailyn Holton, one of the lucky students who got to meet the lovely Kayla Olson.

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By Tabitha Tomlinson

Tabitha is a senior who absolutely loves writing for the Talon. While she spends most of her time watching Netflix, she also enjoys writing, spending time with friends and family, and helping others. She adores coffee, pizza, and puppies.

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