April 23, 2013 | Myrna Anderson

One attendee at the biennial Young Author's Festival talks about the writing life.

10-year-old Madalyn Fett had a chance to share her work with her peers at the annual Young Authors Festival, held at Calvin Monday and Tuesday, April 22–23. A fifth-grader at Edgewood Elementary School, Fett had written an intergalactic fantasy about a candy store whose owner is named Chubby Checker and whose stock is depleted when a bunch of children spend all their money there. During the festival, Fett also listened to James Preller, author of the Jigsaw Jones Mysteries and enjoyed other activities before having lunch with her colleagues and heading back to school. The Young Authors Festival takes up the first two days of the Youth Writing Festival held at Calvin Monday through Wednesday, April 22–April 24. In total, the Festival hosts more than 3,000 students. On Wednesday, Calvin hosts both the Middle School Writers Workshop and the High School Writers Workshop. Fett talked about writing, creativity and the future.

Why did you name a character Chubby Checker?

I needed a cool, kind of funky name for the store owner, and Dr. B., the leader of the Young Authors at our school, said ‘Chubby Checker.’ I know he had a band and they did, like, the Peppermint Twist—so I put that in the story too.

Did you have fun writing it?

I really enjoyed coming up with it. The thing that made it more fun was that I thought I was done, and another idea sort of popped into my head, and I kept going with all those ideas.

What have you been doing at the festival?

When we got here, we went to the auditorium, and they introduced us. We stayed in the audience to listen to James Peller. He read a little bit of his novel and talked about what it is to be a young author. We went into this little room, and they did a little play. They did Chapter 24 from The Bystander, and you could really follow the emotion of what they were doing … . We read our story and asked questions about each other’s stories and talked about how we came up with it.

What was your favorite part?

I really liked meeting the author and having him talk to us … I never really met an actual author.  He read part of his journal that he writes notes in and showed us how the first part of his book came from that.

What do you like about writing?

I like that you have the opportunity and you can write what you want ...  and nobody else is going to come up with the same idea. It is your book, and nobody else will have it. It can be the same plot or the same genre, but everybody has a different idea. It’s like people: no two are exactly the same.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I don’t know because there’s a lot of things to do.

Will you always write?

I think I’ll write all my life because I enjoy it so much. I just like making stories.

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