Proviso East Senior and Forest Parker Dewayne Haslet started his first novel during NaNoWri Mo (National Novel Writers Month) one November when he was 14 years old. Haslet worked on his first superhero novel for a year and then self-published Invincible with Lulu press. Now he’s finished his second novel, Untouchable, as part of a planned trilogy.
Haslet says his books chronicle a teenage superhero named Troy Connor, who has lost his memory and is enrolled in a typical high school, although his growing superpowers mean he comes into conflict with criminals and enemies.
“He’s struggling with a metaphor for teenagers: his identity,” Haslet said. “Teenagers are trying to figure out who they will be for the rest of their lives.”
Haslet writes on his laptop or computer “wherever there’s good Internet access,” he said.
Proviso East English teacher Diane Weiner catalogues Haslet’s work as “mythical realism” and says Haslet’s a quiet student who is a big reader, and “he’s always got a spare book in tow.”
Haslet worked on the second novel last year. Finished copies arrived at his home in September, complete with a Lulu-designed cover featuring a shattered watch face, which he loved.
NaNoWriMo is a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing,” says the Nanowrimo.org website.
Authors start Nov. 1 with a goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by midnight Nov. 30. Last year around 310,000 people registered to work on novels worldwide.
On Nov. 2, the Forest Park Public Library started the month with a visit this year from Joanne Zienty, winner of the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Contest. Zienty published The Things We Save in 2011. The library also hosted a “write in” from 5-9 p.m. Nov. 5.
Haslet says word is slowly getting out in the hallways of PEHS that he’s an author.
“[Fellow students] are surprised someone my age has two books under his belt,” Haslet said. Invincible and Untouchable are both available on Amazon.com.
He’s getting ready to apply to college now –essays should be a breeze.
For other students thinking they’d like to give fiction writing a try, Haslet has this advice: “Keep writing. Don’t be discouraged. Try another thing that might help you get your writing done in a more comfortable way.”
“Dewayne fits the classic profile of a future novelist,” English teacher Weiner said. “He’s got quiet confidence and he’s just an old soul who has this passion and desire to participate in this art form. At his age, it’s really incredible.”
“I see [Haslet] as akin to Ray Bradbury, who was completely self-taught,” Weiner added. “With all the distractions teens have, to be able to use his imagination and create fictional characters, it’s very rare.
“Imagination is the key and Dewayne can capture his imagination and use it,” she added.