Addison teen's first book displayed at library
One of the latest books on display at the Addison Public Library is the work of Addison resident Yusuf Keshavarzi, whose book "Darkwood: Black Jaguar" tells the story of a talented 13-year-old boy in Toronto who gets recruited to work for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and, in doing so, uncovers an evil plot.
At just 13 years old, Keshavarzi has already demonstrated his talent as an author.
"First, I wrote a 20-page long book, handwritten in my notebook, then my aunt and uncle came over and really enjoyed that book, and inspiring me to write (Darkwood)," he said.
"I was born in Toronto, actually, and all of my extended family live in Toronto, so I set the book there and based a few characters off my aunt and uncle."
Keshavarzi said he spent about three months working on his debut novel.
"Usually when I'm writing, it's the first chapter that's the hardest to write. You have to figure out how to start your book and introduce characters and setting without making it boring," he said. "So I started off with the bank robbery to get the audience interested in the book."
After finishing his book and receiving some encouragement from his father, Keshavarzi used Amazon to publish it -- and found it was approved fairly quickly.
"When I first was writing the book I didn't have much hopes. I'm only 13, and I didn't think it would actually get published," Keshavarzi said. "And then it did. And then the library wanted it."
After his book was published, Teen Services Specialist Courtney Moore emailed Keshavarzi regarding his curbside pickup order. He took the opportunity to tell Moore about his book and ask how to get it into the library's collection.
Moore directed him to the section of the library's website where patrons can suggest materials for the library to order.
"He is definitely a self-starter," said Moore. "He took the initiative, not only with writing a book, but he also wasn't afraid to ask questions or promote himself."
Collection development coordinator Karen Dini is one of the staff members who purchases books for the library's collection. She received Keshavarzi's information and ordered a copy right away.
"To my knowledge, we have never had an author this young self-publish and be in our collection," Dini said.
Keshavarzi got an email that his book had been added to the collection. Then he received another message: his book was being featured in a local author display.
Keshavarzi said it felt really good to see his book at his local library.
"The library has big significance in my life," he said. "I read books a lot in my free time. I go (to the library) like every week for curbside pickup for new books."
His love of reading and his initiative definitely impressed library staff, including Rachel Kaiser, another teen services specialist that Keshavarzi had worked with.
"He is a prolific reader, and readers make the best writers," Kaiser said.
As for other aspiring authors, the library is in the process of creating a formal procedure that will streamline the process and hopefully answer authors' questions before they submit an item for consideration, Dini explained.
She hopes more local authors work to get their books published, perhaps even using the library's online tool Pressbooks, which can be used to compile and design a book, or SELF-e, which authors can use to publish their book.
"As it is incredibly difficult to break into the mainstream publishing industry and take advantage of those marketing advantages, I feel the library should support the creative works of our local authors and give them a place to circulate their work and gain some exposure so they will continue in their craft," Dini said.
Similarly, Keshavarzi hopes his story will inspire other young writers to pursue their dreams of becoming an author.
"I've attempted to write other books before and sometimes gave up or ended it after 10 pages. It took me several tries (to finish the book)," said Keshavarzi. "But you just write down ideas and, over time, you'll get more ideas. Just jot them down and keep going. Don't give up."
So what's next for this young author? The rest of the books in the Darkwood series, following the Toronto teen through more adventures.
"I have some other ideas. I do want to continue writing on the side," said Keshavarzi. "I already have the plot lined up for the second book, the next one in the series, hopefully. I'm planning three right now."
Addison Public Library is at 4 Friendship Plaza. Cardholders can suggest items be purchased for the library's collection online at www.addisonlibrary.org/order-items.
For more information, contact Dini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (630) 458-3313.