AT DV, students are encouraged to discover and pursue a number of talents and interests. Our students are athletes, artists, leaders, gamers, engineers, musicians, and more. Two of our recent alumni are published novelists. Cordelia Faass ‘14 published An Angel, A Demon and A Candle (2012) and A Demon Underwater (2013) while still a student at DV, and Isaac Fozard ‘16 published Coalheart: A Copprillium Novel in 2017.
We caught up with Cordelia and Isaac to find out what inspired their interest in writing and what they’re working on now. Here’s what they shared:
Q: What drew you to want to become a writer?
Cordelia: I never really thought of myself as a writer. I started writing before I came to DV to cope with what was going on - feeling like I didn’t fit in at my old school, and not understanding why. Once I was diagnosed with ADHD, writing became an even more important coping mechanism. At DV, I showed my writing to Tim Simmons, my English teacher, and he encouraged me to get published.
Isaac: I would try to tell someone a story and it would get too long, so I decided to write it down. That’s how I started writing. I think of myself more as a storyteller than as a writer.
Q: What has been the most satisfying aspect of being a published author?
Cordelia: When people read my books and come up to me and say they loved what I wrote. It amazed me that people wanted to hear what I had to say - people wanted to hear my voice. I started writing because I felt I didn’t have a voice and now I have a voice and people want to hear it.
Isaac: The respect.
(Isaac was recently selected as a semi-finalist in the 2017 Dante Rossetti Book Awards, which recognizes emerging new talent and outstanding works of Young Adult Fiction.)
Q: What’s been the most surprising aspect?
Cordelia: I wasn’t expecting anyone to read them…That people actually did and liked them was amazing.
Isaac: It was harder than I thought. Editing takes a long time and you have to reconcile yourself to the fact that you’re never going to get it perfect.
Q: In what ways do you feel that your learning difference(s) were an advantage or disadvantage as a writer?
Cordelia: The advantage was that it was my impetus to write. I felt like I didn’t fit in and these feelings gave me a platform for my writing - a story to tell. I was diagnosed with ADHD before DV, but was not diagnosed with an auditory processing delay until I came to DV. At DV, we read a book about students with LDs in public schools, how they felt like outsiders and singled out, I really related to that and wanted to tell my story. The disadvantage to having an auditory processing delay is that you hear everything at the same volume - so trying to find a place to write in complete silence is a challenge. My family was very supportive when I would come home and just need to find a quiet place and write for a while.
Isaac: I have dyslexia and dysgraphia, so they are certainly disadvantages to writing, but I kind of willed away the obstacles by mentally changing the frame of reference. For me, writing is less about writing down words and more about telling the story - and that has made all the difference.
Q: What methods do you use to capture your ideas and write your manuscripts?
Cordelia: - I write my ideas, inspirations on pieces of paper. Sometimes in class, I would just rip out a piece of notebook paper and write down an idea. I don’t use a lot of tech in my writing - but I do use a LiveScribe pen in classes. I was introduced to that technology at DV and still use it now in college. I love it and even introduced it to the community at my college, and now they have it available for students.
Isaac: I didn’t use any Assistive Technology in the writing process - I just typed out my first manuscript.
Q: Were there any teachers, friends, family members who inspired or encouraged you?
Cordelia: All of the teachers at DV were supportive of my writing. Tim Simmons was the first person I showed my writing to and he was the first to suggest I consider getting it published. Kathleen and Tina were instrumental in writing my second book and took a lot of time to review drafts with me. And my family has been super supportive through the entire process.
Isaac: Sam Steinberg taught me how to write. I couldn’t write when I was in 8th grade and Sam changed that. Tim Simmons helped a lot. He expanded on what Sam did and taught me to write longer, more complex forms. And, of course, my family’s been great. My mom and dad have been fantastic supporting me through everything.
Q: What are you working on now?
Cordelia: I’m trying to work on a third book, but it’s difficult because I’m a senior in college and trying to finish. Once I graduate, I would like to get back to writing - I miss it a lot. The computer can’t judge you.
Isaac: I have a few different stories going: the second book in the series I started with Coalheart, I’m trying something in the fantasy genre with a large size and scope, and I have a detective thriller gong as well. Inspiration drives which one I work on.
Q: What advice would you give to another young writer -- maybe a DV student who is inspired by your success?
Cordelia: Be confident. It’s hard when you’re a teenager and writing and don’t know where it’s going to go. The more confident you are when you’re writing, the better you’re going to like it and the better you are going to feel about it - even if you’re the only person who ever reads it.
Isaac: Just because everyone tells you you can’t doesn’t mean it’s true. If you want to write - or do anything really - find a way to reframe the work so your LD doesn’t have the chance to kick off.