In today's Writer's Spotlight feature, it is our pleasure to introduce 13-year-old author, Liliana Monge, to our blog community. Our SoCreate team had the chance to meet Liliana at this year's Central Coast Writers Conference in September, and last week, I had the opportunity to interview her about her journey as a young writer.

About Liliana

Born and raised in San Luis Obispo, Liliana first discovered her passion for writing in second grade when her teacher gave the class a 20-page writing assignment. After completing this first writing assignment with ease, she continued to develop her writing skills both inside and outside of the classroom. By the age of 9, she had completed her first full-length novel titled Shadow: Beyond the Walls. With some help from her parents, Liliana self-published Shadow: Beyond The Walls. It is available for purchase online, so feel free to check it out here!

Shortly after publishing her first full-length novel, she started working on multiple new writing projects. Although these novels have been tucked away for now, Liliana hopes to return to them in the near future. 

At the age of 12, Liliana took a trip with her family to visit the Standing Rock Reservation, located in North and South Dakota. During her 10-day visit, she was overtaken by the reservation's history and her family's heritage and connection to the land, and was inspired to write something new. She started jotting down some notes and then, when she returned--filled with inspiration--she started in on her next novel titled The Mask She Wears. The story follows the trials of a young Native American girl imprisoned in a concentration camp. 

As a young author, Liliana has found nearby writer's conferences to be extremely helpful in developing her writing skills and continuing forward with her work on The Mask She Wears. In the last year, she has been able to workshop the first few chapters at two conferences--one in Santa Cruz and our local Central Coast Writers Conference.

Just last month, Liliana had the opportunity to advance her writing skills and receive some excellent feedback from some of the industry's finest at the Central Coast Writers Conference. During the 2-day conference, Liliana attended multiple workshops and learned a lot about the importance of story and character mapping. The tips she learned from the workshops have already started helping her develop stronger, more succinct plots in her novels.

Along with attending workshops, Liliana was also able to schedule a personal critique session with author, poet, and professor, Kevin Clark. Having read the first few chapters of The Mask She Wears prior to the session, Kevin was shocked when 13-year-old Liliana walked into the room. In amazement, he immediately asked, "You wrote this?!" He could not believe the talent of this young author. During the hour long critique, he gave Liliana some excellent feedback and notes on the first 10 pages of her manuscript.  

In the last month, Liliana has made a number of changes to her novel based on the feedback and information she gained from the Central Coast Writers Conference. She is eagerly awaiting next year's conference!

Liliana says that her favorite thing about writing is the creative process of building characters. She loves that, as the author, she has the power to make and break characters and is able to secretly express a side of herself in each one that she may not want to show in her life. And, although a rather important part of the process, Liliana's least favorite part about writing is editing. Thankfully, her mom is able to come to the rescue and help her get through the necessary revisions!

When she is not working on her next novel in her family's living room, Liliana enjoys spending time outside. She attends Outside Now nature school in San Luis Obispo where, in addition to traditional classroom learning, she is able to take her studies outdoors to learn more about plants, animals, and overall holistic human development. Outside of school, she loves backpacking, fire making, archery, soccer, and art.

It was such a pleasure having Liliana in the office. It is always great to be able to connect with our local writing community and learn more about their unique writing journeys. We can't wait to see what the future has in store for this young author!

Until next time, readers!