South African Michelle Nkamankeng, 7, has become one of the youngest published authors on the continent with a short novel she wrote largely in secret, Waiting for the Waves.
Michelle wrote of Titi, a little girl fascinated by the ocean and its huge waves, which Amazon.com bills as “an epic tale” recounting “the inner struggle of love and fear.”
“My brother and sisters knew because they always came in my room,” Michelle said. “They are like, ‘What are you doing?’ I told them not to tell Mummy and Daddy. I wanted it to be a surprise.”
Her mother, Lolo Nkamankeng, said that when Michelle gave her the book, she “took it and put it inside the bookshelves” amid the Bibles, dictionaries and a few magazines.
A few weeks later Michelle brought her parents a second, then a third book. “I said to my mother if you don’t take me seriously, I will never write books again.”
Her dream came true a year later when her parents helped her self-publish Waiting for the Waves, a glossy, 58-page novel with illustrations by South African artist Megan Venter.
The tale of how little Titi conquers her fear of waves with love and support from her family caught the public’s attention. Michelle suddenly was on a round of book launches, press interviews and speaking engagements.
Michelle shared her advice for other children wanting to write books: “to follow their dreams, always believe in themselves, don’t let anybody get in your way, and if you can’t read you can’t write.”