Ali Russo, a senior at Marborough High, publishes her first novel which takes its roots from her travels to Nantucket with her dad...‘‘It’s Always Ourselves We Find in the Sea’’
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Nantucket, to many people, represents a summer getaway, a place to forget the daily grind and enjoy long days on the beach.
For Marlborough High School senior Ali Russo, her time on the island 30 miles off Cape Cod was the seeds for her recently published novel.
‘‘I really wanted to write a story about Nantucket,’’ Russo said recently. ‘‘For me, it just resembles freedom and new beginnings.’’
Russo, an all-star vocalist and honor roll student, recently published ‘‘It’s Always Ourselves We Find in the Sea’’ through independent publishing company iUniverse. The book is available on Amazon on Kindle and will soon be on the shelves of local bookstores, Russo hopes.
Russo wrote the book over a course of a year, from just after her 15th birthday to just after she turned 16.
The book follows the journey of protagonist Lily Hammilton, a college senior whose father passes away from cancer. In his will, her father leaves her his money, but also a ferry ticket to Nantucket, where they spent summers when she was a child. The protagonist goes to the island and what follows is a story of self-discovery, Russo said.
The novel is billed as a young adult book, but Russo said that in a genre saturated with books about vampire love stories and other outlandish tales, she views it as more on the adult end of the spectrum.
‘‘For the young adult genre, it’s very adult,’’ Russo said. ‘‘They’re people with real life issues and I feel like that’s really not touched on in the young adult novels.’’
Much of the inspiration for the book, Russo said, came from her experiences on the island. She and her father took weeklong trips to Nantucket each summer, a place she always found welcoming and brimming with places for reflection.
‘‘It’s secluded in the best way,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s such a special place.’’
The process of writing the book began, Russo said, one night when she was studying biology — math and science being self-admittedly not her areas of expertise.
A writer since she was small, Russo said she took a break from her studies and began jotting down memories from her time on Nantucket. She said she'd gone through 20 pages before she looked at the clock and realized that two hours had elapsed.
Russo said she later went out to dinner with her father, Mitchell, and talked about the prospect of writing something about Nantucket. The pair ended up staying until after the restaurant closed, sketching out a plot.
Then Russo began writing. She said she forced herself to write 10 pages every day for a year, even if she knew what she was writing wouldn’t make it into the final work. She said it was tough at times to balance the writing with schoolwork, but said she put her studies first.
When she finished the writing and editing process, Russo said she sent the manuscript to 10 to 15 publishing houses, but was rejected all around. She said she was determined, and went the independent route, publishing the book through iUniverse. The book was released in late January.
Russo said that during the process, she didn’t let too many friends or her teachers know she was working on the book, but said she did ask her freshman Spanish teacher, Kristine Kazarian, to read the finished manuscript.
Russo said that she’s hoping the book gets recognized and said her publisher has set up fan pages and book signings to market the novel.