Thirteen-year-old Ariel Menta has been fascinated with science fiction for as long as she can remember.
"My dad is a big science fiction fan so I always had his books around," said Ariel. "I'm also a fan of science fiction movies like Alien vs. Predator."
Recently, the Steveston-London secondary student inked a book and self-published it as an eBook through kindle.amazon.com.
Her novel, Twisted, takes readers through a journey of intrigue, complete with a shooting, kidnapping, and lots of twists and turns.
"It is about a girl named Marissa Jones who is recruited by the CIA when her parents are shot and then kidnapped by an evil man by the name of Sunny," said Ariel, adding it took four to five months to complete her tale of mystery.
"From there, she goes on a quest to seek out her parents while trying to tear down the agency that Sunny is trying to build up.
"The whole story is about Marissa in pursuit of Sunny."
The self-professed bookworm has been putting pen to paper since she was in Grade 2.
"In Grade 2 we had the opportunity to write short stories in class and at the end of the day, the other students would randomly pick their favourites and mine used to get read in front of the class quite often," said Ariel.
"I liked seeing the reactions from my classmates _ whether it was sadness, surprise, happiness or fear.
"I love that I can control the things that happen in my stories."
In Grade 8, her English teacher, Jennifer Mah, encouraged the aspiring author to keep writing.
"She told me not to stop writing and that I have talent," she said. "This is definitely the career that I want _ to be a popular published author."
Ariel would like to someday be as well known as award-winning screenwriter, producer and author Dean Lorey, who wrote the Nightmare Academy Series.
"I really like his style of writing," she added. "In science fiction you have more freedom, there are no rules."
The budding writer said she has never taken any writing courses, rather she scours the Internet reading other sci-fi writers' stories, gleaning strategies and descriptors that might work in her stories.
Ariel is part of an online writers' forum called writing.com.
"You get to post a free portfolio and we review each other's writing," she said. "In my writing, I like descriptors that hit all of the five senses; I write about what my characters see, feel and what they like."
So far, she's penned three books, although Twisted is her first publication.
To make sure her book was primed for outside readers' critique, Ariel relied on her family and friends to give her feedback.
Then, she sent her 105-page manuscript to her grandfather for editing.
"My grandfather used to be an editor in England and he gave me some good ideas," Ariel added.
Her mom, Joanne Menta, couldn't be prouder.
"Ariel had a couple of stellar teachers in elementary school who really nurtured her talent," said Joanne Menta. "She's been reading ever since she was old enough to understand.
"She has thousands of books in her library _ she devours everything, from books to magazines to newspapers."
Joanne Menta laughed when asked if Ariel's writing talents are in the genes.
"My husband John and I read a lot, but neither of us write," she said.
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