Picked for literary stardom - at 14

5th January 2007 at 00:00
"To my huge network of friends - the Awesome Foursome, the Six, the Bus Crew, Form 11B..."

The acknowledgments at the front of Rachael Wing's new book, Star-crossed, are somewhat unusual, but then so is its writer. Rachael, 16, started the novel on a quiz website when she was just 14.

Her writing was spotted on the site and now, two years later, it is being published by Scholastic.

Rachael, who is studying for her GCSEs, already has a second book on the go.

"When I first heard it was being published, I jumped around for about 10 minutes," she said. "Then my mum said it could be a fake email, so I checked and it wasn't. Since then it's been a whirlwind."

Like most budding writers, Rachael had a few half-written novels in the bottom drawer. But it was not until she started writing Star-crossed - the story of a girl who gets the lead role in a school production of Romeo and Juliet, only to find she is starring opposite her worst enemy - that her friends encouraged her to keep going.

Not long after, she was spotted by the niece of Kate Wilson, Scholastic's chief executive, who urged her aunt to take a look at her writing. Rachael was signed up immediately. "People have said it will turn me into a sort of celebrity," she said. "Doing this interview is a bit weird."

One of the novel's most ambitious characteristics is its narrative viewpoint: the second person. "You slide down your seat and even further in your typical Monday-morning state," it begins.

The only other well-known novel to use this perspective is Bright Lights, Big City, by the American author Jay McInerney.

Now in her final year at Didcot girls' school, near Oxford, Rachael divides her time between studying, eating ice cream and planning her follow-up.

"Making sure the characters are constant is the most difficult thing for me," she said. "Because I'm quite fickle it's hard for me to put across someone who has the same feelings all the way through."

Star-crossed is published by Scholastic on Monday. Publishers hope it will emulate the success of Eragon, the fantasy novel written by schoolboy Christopher Paolini when he was 15, which became an international bestseller and has just been released as a film by 20th Century Fox.

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