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Virginia high school senior pens and publishes novel

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Some people used downtime in the pandemic to master the baking of banana bread or learn TikTok dances.

Samson McCune wrote a novel.

The Albemarle High School senior self-published “Annihilated” in September 2021. He started working on the science fiction/fantasy novel about two years ago and then finished it in early 2021 after three months of work.

“I think that the pandemic definitely influenced me, mostly because I became very bored during this time period,” he said.

He said he wanted to read a specific type of book, which he couldn’t find.

“So I decided that I should write it,” he said.

“Annihilated” is set on the fictional world of Hakiro and follows the adventures of two characters: a prince and hunter. McCune has been spent a lot of time thinking about and building the fictional universe of his book. He even created his own language to help better understand his characters.

McCune’s not sure how long he’s wanted to be a writer. He remembers an attempt to write a book in third grade that didn’t go well.

“I’ve always thought the idea of having written a book would be cool,” he said.

He thinks that even without the pandemic, he would’ve become a writer. The pandemic just sped up the process.

“If I hadn’t been as bored, I wouldn’t have been quite so motivated to do something,” he said.

When he starts writing a book, McCune says he comes up with a title, writes a prologue or the first chapter and design the cover.

“It helps me really fall into the world,” he said. “I think visual arts are very, very helpful.”

After finishing the first book, McCune kept writing and has already finished a sequel and a prequel. He finds the process of writing is fulfilling.

McCune said he wanted to publish the book because his mom is an advocate for monetizing one’s skills.

“I didn’t think at the beginning that my books would end up becoming anything worth publishing,” he said.

But his family and friends encouraged him to publish.

“It’s helped me a lot with my confidence,” he said.

He published the book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct program, which he said was simple. Amazon handles the printing, sales and distribution.

He’s sold more than 70 copies of the book so far, which is a lot more than McCune expected.

“My family is not that big,” he joked, adding that he expected to sell about 20 copies.

He’s even had people he doesn’t know reach out via social media to talk about the book and ask about the sequel.

“That stuff is really surreal because I don’t expect there to be anyone reading my book that isn’t somebody I know directly.”

Once he had a copy of the book, he made a point to take it to school. Telling his friends he wrote a novel and hearing their reactions was validating, he said.

McCune will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall, where he plans to study business. He didn’t want to focus on creative writing because he worried he would lose his passion for it.

“I don’t really do it a lot for the sales,” he said. “I do it more for myself.”

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