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Once a hopeful, now a novelist

Varela to share story with aspiring writers at Marylhurst


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Francesca Varela shows her new novel, 'Call of the Sun Child.' She will be reading from it June 21 at the young writers workshop at Marylhurst University.Not long ago, Francesca Varela was just another young wannabe writer at Marylhurst University’s Workshop for Teen Writers and Artists.

When the workshop returns on June 21, the West Linn native will be coming back as an author.

Now a student at the University of Oregon, Varela has already written her first novel, “Call of the Sun Child,” and she will reading her work to those attending the camp June 21. She will be talking to a lot of ambitious young writers who want to be like her.

Varela has fond memories of her own experience at the workshop. In fact, it laid much of the foundation for her writing her new novel.

“It was both fun and informative, not to mention inspiring, since we were surrounded by real-life authors,” Varela said. “The biggest lesson I learned was to keep writing. Write intuitively, see what comes naturally, and challenge yourself to just go for it.

“If I hadn’t learned those things I would never have written ‘Call of the Sun Child.’ I had a habit of giving up on novels after the first few chapters, but this time I dared to keep going.”

As soon as Varela’s book came out, she gave a copy to Jay Ponteri, director of the summer workshop, and he enthusiastically responded with a rave review that appears on the back cover of the book. Among Ponteri’s many superlatives were comparisons of her book to Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” and Jesus’s 40-day fast in the Judean Desert. He concluded his review by writing, “This is a beautiful first novel by a young writer to watch.”

“Then he asked me to come back and present at the Teen Writers workshop and come full circle,” Varela said. “Of course I said yes!”

The premise of “Call of the Sun Child” is about a 16-year-old girl named Sempra, who has lived her entire life in the dark. She lives in an enclosed dome, where the sun is never allowed to shine in. And none of the people of the dome are allowed to go outside. The penalty for such an act is exile from the facility.

But the curious young girl must discover what is outside the dome, and her journey makes her question everything she has ever known.

“I wrote ‘Call of the Sun Child’ because I had something to say,” Varela said. “I wanted to express my love for the natural world and to voice my concerns about the disrespect our society shows for the life around.”

As Ponteri noted, “The narrator Sempra is a courageous, soulful storyteller. Her long, strange journey towards freedom will surprise even the most seasoned of fiction readers. Francesca G. Varela’s sentences shimmer.”

“Call of the Sun Child” is Varela’s first published novel, but she has been writing up a storm ever since the third grade. She started her own imaginary publishing company, Snail Co. Publications, and supplied it with stories she kept in binders. Varela kept writing and evolving until she began writing her novel during her senior year of high school, and she finished it by the end of her first year of college.

A great inspiration for Varela while growing up in West Linn was Steve Davala, a science teacher at Rosemont Ridge Middle School and the author of “The Soulkind Awakening.” She gave him an advanced copy of her book, and his review was: “In ‘Call of the Sun,’ Varela has created a living, breathing world that was formed from her own passions ... It asks us the important questions: ‘Who are you and why do you believe what you do?’”

“Call of the Sun Child” has already received lots of glowing reviews.

“So far I’ve heard good things from friends who have read the book,” Varela said. “I’ve heard that they couldn’t put it down; that they stayed up all night reading it and they didn’t want it to end.”

That is about the highest praise a writer can get.

For more about the summer writers workshop go to http://www.marylhurst.edu/academics/schools-colleges-departments/college-arts-sciences/english/programs/show-tell.html.

For more about Francesca Varela and her work, go to francescavarela.com.




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