Natalie Marrer, a 14-year-old Swiss-American, has just published her first book, making her Switzerland's youngest ever author.This content was published on May 25, 2006 - 10:06
"Die Traumkarten: die zwei Schwerter des Samurai" (The Dream Cards: the Samurai's Two Swords) tells the story of two long-lost sisters who are sent on a magical quest.
Natalie has had to get used to the excitement surrounding her book: Swiss television has been to visit, she has given countless interviews and has made a star appearance at Basel's book festival.
She will also be reading from her novel at the book festival in her hometown of Solothurn, in northwestern Switzerland, which runs from May 26-28.
"I have a really exciting life right now," she told swissinfo. "It feels great, it was always a dream but while I was writing I didn't think about getting published."
Natalie, who describes her hobbies as ice-skating, reading and meeting friends, was only 12-years-old when she started to write her novel.
The secondary school pupil, whose favourite subject is Latin, has always enjoyed writing.
"I had lots of ideas... I just wrote them all down and they got to be a story after a while," she says in her American-accented English.
Love of reading
Brought up bilingual - her mother is from Minnesota and her father is Swiss - Natalie says she owes a lot to her mother, who instilled in her a love of reading.
It was Kathleen Marrer who encouraged the young author to send her book to the publishers, Cosmos.
The book was published a few weeks ago and has already risen to the top five in the children's book charts in Switzerland.
"I didn't think that [the excitement] would be this much - of course I know that I'm young for an author," said Natalie.
The echo among her friends and schoolmates has been positive and Natalie says that there hasn't been much jealousy among her peers.
Her book is even being read at school as part of this year's curriculum.
Fantasy, horror, love
Described by Natalie as part fantasy, part horror and part love story, the novel focuses on two 13-year-old girls – one personifying good and the other bad.
Laura, is propelled into the land of dreams where she is sent on a quest to save this world from Karan, the embodiment of evil, who wants to turn all previously dreamed nightmares into reality.
For this she has to find two swords - symbols of good and evil. Unbeknown to Laura, another girl, Kara, who is her mirror image, has been sent by Karan to find the swords as well.
The two girls meet in the middle of the book, an event which changes both their lives.
"I don't have any sisters or brothers and just the idea of suddenly going somewhere and seeing somebody that looks exactly like you and just finding a sister that you didn't know about - that just kind of fascinated me," Natalie told swissinfo.
What is particular about the book is that it is told from the two girls' perspectives, with the text marked in black (Laura) or blue (Kara) depending on who is telling the story.
"I just was always thinking that would be cool to hear the story out of two perspectives," explained Natalie. "[To understand] what the other person thinks."
The book traces the changing characters of the two girls and their friends who accompany them. And it is not without a healthy portion of humour.
At one point, Laura is overwhelmed by events: "What am I doing here? I'm a totally normal girl not Superwoman! It really seems as if I have jumped into some kind of fantasy book. Completely crazy!"
Natalie says she is thinking about a sequel but would like to see how her first novel does first.
Her future plans include writing but not necessarily as a career, as she recognises that it's not always easy to make a living as a full-time author. Instead she's thinking of opting for law.
As to whether she would like to publish it in English:
"Of course! I'm not doing it, I'm not that good!" she laughs. " But it would be wonderful to get published in English, it would be a total dream too."
swissinfo, Isobel Leybold-Johnson
Natalie Marrer is 14 years old and lives in Solothurn. The secondary school pupil enjoys reading, ice-skating and being with her friends.
She has just published her first book, making her the youngest author in Switzerland.
Her Swiss father is a biologist and her mother, a dental hygienist, hails from Minnesota. Natalie visits the United States once a year during the long school holidays.
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