A Kirkwood teenager is getting a head start on her career as a novelist — she's already gotten her first book published.
Alex Bess, 15, turned an eighth-grade class project into a professionally published book called The Scrapper. It’s the story of a young noble girl who would rather be a sword-wielding knight than follow along with the rest of the girls on the path to a life of service to husband and children.
The idea behind the medieval adventure came to Bess, now a freshman at , when she was entering eighth grade at . She used it as the basis for an independent study project in her Reach (gifted) class that year.
The project had to have something to do with a future career the student might like to pursue, Bess said. She researched writing techniques and ways to get published, as well as the time period of her book.
Teacher Lisa Grommet was so impressed with Bess’ work that she suggested she send it to KidPub Press, which publishes books written by kids and teens. KidPub Press accepted it and now offers it in paperback for $13.95; Bess receives up to 20 percent royalties.
“Alex is an amazing writer and editor, so there was very little I needed to change,” said Grommet, now a teacher at Tillman Elementary. “My role was really just the ‘guide on the side’ as Alex led the way.”
The book is also available on Amazon.com, and Bess is lined up to do book signings this week at and next week at .
She said her friends were excited for her and many of them had gotten copies of the book for her to sign.
"They come to school with it for me to sign, but not personalized so they can sell it on eBay when I'm famous," she joked.
Bess is an avid reader and has always dabbled in writing, filling up notebook after notebook in her free time, said her mother, Leigh Ann Bess. Still, it was a surprise to her and Alex’s dad when she announced she had written a book.
“All of a sudden she said, ‘I wrote a book,’ and we were like, ‘What?’” Leigh Ann Bess said.
Alex Bess said it was the first of many books to come.
“I write a lot,” she said. “I have another idea I’m trying to start working on now.”
In addition to writing, Bess is a figure skater and plays trumpet. She is looking forward to volunteering this spring at the St. Louis Renaissance Faire in Wentzville, where she will portray a town crier.