For someone who doesn’t read horror novels and who leaves the room when a scary movie is on TV, teen author Sydney Turfler, who writes under the pen name Emma Gray, has written one eerie book.
Sydney, her mother, Sherry, and her 15-year-old sister, Madison, live in The Villages. They moved to Maricopa five years ago from Winchester, Va.
In her self-published novel, “Shattered in the Dark,” the 17-year-old tells the story of Mara, a 16-year-old who is haunted by nightmares about a weird accident she can’t remember. As the blurb on the back of the book describes:
“(The) bizarre accident left her friends dead … strange things have been occurring. People are turning up dead … a mysterious masked man is stalking her, and Mara can’t help but feel that her biology partner, the dark and edgy Shade Huxley, has a part in all this. … As Mara’s memories start to resurface they turn out to be more horrific and terrifying than she expects.”
After several false starts, Sydney, who aspires to be a professional writer, said she finished the book in six months. She plans to make “Shattered in the Dark” a trilogy, followed by “Unraveled in the Dark” and “Awakened in the Dark.”
Sydney, who is homeschooled, said her book went through four versions.
“Once I figured out my central character, Mara, things fell into place,” she said.
She credits her family and two close friends, Sheyenne Chambers, 16, and Mila Carmen, 17, for their valuable criticism. Mila read the book constantly during the whole process.
“She was a great critic and the character Lily in the novel is based on Mila,” Sydney said.
Mila said she and Sydney met at church and have been best friends for three years.
“I love how her book turned out and I enjoyed helping her put pieces together. I love her sense of reality in the book and how you can feel like you are Mara as you are reading her book,” Mila said. “I would and have recommended it to other people of our age group and older.”
Sheyenne and Sydney, both of whom have diabetes, met in 2008 through a website where they could chat with other teens with diabetes. An off-and-on writer herself, Sheyenne said, “Honestly, I think her book is amazing. I would definitely recommend it (even) to someone who isn’t just interested in the genre.”
Sydney also said Jenny Mertes, a freelance writer and editor who consults and provides feedback to young authors, advised and encouraged her.In an email to Sydney’s mother, Mertes wrote:
“I finally had time to sit down with the book, and I couldn’t stop reading … She has the metaphors and similes … and she’s done a great job with them, with the plot, with the characterizations — this girl can WRITE.”
So far, Sydney has sold more than 60 copies, mostly to friends and family. The book is on Amazon.com.