Why does Sophia McWilliams write with her dad?
How writing Wielders helped me at school.
By the middle of my 6th grade year, I was having a real problem with Language Arts. Then in February of 2012, I started writing Wielders with my dad. I paid attention to how my dad wrote on the computer screen as we worked on the book together. I learned when he made mistakes and corrected them. Grammar started to make more sense to me. This led to me immediately doing better in Language Arts. It became my favorite subject. It even led to me being awarded the sixth grade Language Arts Award. I also won a regional Gold Key award in the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, which everyone says is a big deal. I was amazed at how much writing had changed my life.
Now I help edit all the books we write. I often annoy my dad while he is writing when I see him make a mistake. He always says, “Let’s just get it in the computer then we can go back and edit it.” My dad pushes me to write and edit. I don’t always want to write but once we get started, it’s fun. I write because I like telling stories and seeing my books in print is awesome. And if I can do it, you can to!
Sophia McWilliams (age 13) writes the Wielders books with her father, Lucas McWilliams. They have published four books together and are still going strong. They get up together early each morning before the sun rises to write down the stories that fill their dreams.
Angela 1: Starting Over and its sequels Angela 2: The Guardian of the Bay (scheduled to appear this fall) and Angela 3: Silver Path of the Moon (which I am now writing) form a trilogy covering the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades of the main character, Angela Fournier. Taken together, they may be read in at least four different ways, if not more.
First, it is possible to read the Angela series as a Bildungsroman, that is, a novel which deals with the moral and psychological education and growth of a character. After all, Angela learns how to deal with the divorce of her parents and must decide whether to give in to lowered expectations or aspire to a higher standard. She must learn how to face bullies and unjust authority figures. She learns in the first book about corruption, in the second about the power of oil and construction companies, and in the third, well, you will have to wait and see. She learns what it costs to try to correct injustice and the value of loyalty to a few real friends. In other words, she undergoes a lot of growth and maturation.
Moreover, as may be guessed from the preceding discussion, the books may be read as a critique of US society. Money and reason are powerful amoral forces. Notice I did not say “immoral”. Amoral means that they have no intrinsic ethic to them and that therefore we must impose an ethic and values on them or they have the potential of harming us. Nothing in our discourse as a society, however, shows awareness of this need to control the power of money and reason and so we are at risk. Angela is learning to use her reasoning abilities for good. The main driver for her is her love for family and friends.
Next, my books may be read as a Declaration of Independence, independence from modernism. I don’t know about you, but I have already read one too many stories in which nothing whatsoever happens to characters you never get a chance to care about, as in James Joyce’s The Dubliners for example. One hundred years later, people are still writing like that, seemingly unaware that they do not have to. My daughter gave me The Best American Short Stories of 2012 for father’s day and there are some excellent stories in it, but there are many that cover one day or part of one day, told in present tense, in which the character(s) learn nothing at all and accomplish nothing. Pure Joyce. It is time to break away finally and permanently from all that. My starting point is to rely on solid story telling as traditionally understood and rely on intuition alone to produce originality, if any.
Finally, the Angela series aspires to be classic. No, not classic in the sense of great literature by renown writers. I am none of that. I mean classic in the sense that there is nothing inappropriate in it for children to read but it is written for them and for their parents and for anyone who loves good literature. The main character, though by no means perfect, can be a model to aspire to in terms of ethics and intent. The books can be a window into the adult world that help children make sense of it and a mirror for adults to see themselves and their society more clearly. As things stand now, most books children can read are of no interest to adults and bear little relationship to the real world, while books meant for adults are full of matters inappropriate for children. It was fine for a while for literature to tell us that our modern world view (1450-1918) no longer matched the reality on the ground and that consequently individuals feel alone in a meaningless world. We know need stories about people who are learning to deal with the new reality. Angela is trying.
By David A. Bedford