Leanne Van Dongen, 14, has published her first book for children called Kate the Great. (Colleen Flanagan/ THE NEWS)

Teen author publishes first book in Maple Ridge

Leanne Van Dongen is only 14-years-old and has published her first book in her children’s series called Kate the Great.

Leanne Van Dongen knew she wanted to become a writer when she was only 10-years-old.

Now at 14-years she has published her first book in a series of three, she has another series on the go and plenty of new ideas for future books.

Her first three books are for children from ages 9-12 and the series is called Showtime.

“She came to me at 10-years-old and said mom I want to become an author do you think I can do it? I said you can do whatever you set your heart to,” said Anita Van Dongen, her mother.

“Next thing I know she was sitting down and writing,” she said.

The first book in the series is called Kate the Great and it’s about a girl who wants to take part in a talent show at her middle school. Kate McClora wants to learn her older sister’s magic tricks for the show, but instead of being fun it turns into a competition with her rival Abby that Kate is determined to win.

This wasn’t the first idea the Grade 10 student at Maple Ridge secondary had for her first book. She had a bunch of ideas but her heart wasn’t in any of them.

“So I started over and I came up with more ideas. So I finally came up with this and I felt strong about it. And I wanted to get it published,” said Van Dongen about the magic theme.

Van Dongen started writing her book when she was 12-years old. She always sits in a corner nook in the kitchen of her house and her environment must be quiet. She writes them out by hand.

“I think better when I am in the same spot,” said the young author.

When her first book was done she took it to her parents.

“We read the book and I said, this is a book,” said her mother who immediately started searching on the internet for a publisher. She found RoseDog Books in Pittsburgh, Penn., who told Van Dongen that she would have to type up her work.

It took her two years from the initial concept to get the book published. And her book was accepted by the publisher within two weeks of sending it in.

The next book in the series is called The Trio about three girls who are triplets who are going to compete in a special dance competition. But during a rehearsal one of them breaks her ankle.

“The book is based on her recovering from that and her disappointment. And her sisters support her saying it will still work out but then she is not so sure,” said Van Dongen, adding that the book is currently at the publishers.

She is waiting for it to come back before she types up the third book in the series called Stage Fright.

“People ask me if she is writing about herself. Yes because she was dancing since she was 3-years-old, she is a competitive figure skater, she’s taking this season off. So she knows about being nervous about going on stage,” said Van Dongen’s mother.

The Showtime series is based in reality. Van Dongen’s next series will be based in fantasy.

“I have always been fond of Disney princesses and the fairy tale kind of stories. So I thought of making up my own,” explained Van Dongen.

She has called it the Unicorn series and she has already written seven chapters of the first book. The series will be about a girl who walks into a magical kind of world where she meets unicorns in a fairy-tale setting.

Van Dongen has many plans. She doesn’t want to stick with this age group forever. She would like to write a series of books about wolves and she already has a working title for the books, Hunters of the Night. She is also planning to write a frightening series for adults.

“(I’m) thinking about making it scary and gory for an older crowd,” she explained.

Van Dongen donated two books each to Hammond elementary and Pitt Meadows elementary.

Barbara MacKinnon, vice principal at Pitt Meadows elementary wrote her back telling her how much she personally enjoyed reading the book.

”The strong supportive and loving family dynamic was a stand out feature for me,” wrote MacKinnon.

“Each member was there for Kate but still let her take lead in her own life,” said the letter, adding that the character’s problem was relevant and believable.

Van Dongen has sold 25 books so far.

They are $15 each and can be purchased at rosedogbookstore.com, amazon.ca and at Black Bond Books at 11900 Haney Place, in Haney Place Mall, Maple Ridge.

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Leanne Van Dongen, 14, has published her first book for children called Kate the Great. (Colleen Flanagan/ THE NEWS)

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