Student author publishes first novel

American studies major senior Olivia Vetrano published her first novel, Neverland, in 2015 at the age of 20. The fiction novel was selected to be published by the Kindle Scout Campaign, which called upon readers to vote for their favorite book. (Courtesy of Olivia Vetrano)

Getting a book published is no easy feat, but American studies major and history and anthropology double minor senior Olivia Vetrano has done just that. 

It all started in her senior year of high school when she was 17 years old. 

“[Neverland] is primarily about this 18-year-old with an eating disorder,” Vetrano said. “She’s kind of battling her own demons, trying to figure out life post-graduation.” 

When Vetrano was 19 years old, she finished the novel, and it got published immediately after she turned 20 years old.

Vetrano obtained a book deal in March of 2015—the spring semester of her sophomore year—with Kindle Press, where the book was electronically published. The paperback edition was self-published about a year later.

“I really didn’t think anyone would want to read it because it was a book written about a teenage girl by a teenage girl,” she said. “[It’s] not exactly award winning, but I got a really good response to it.” 

The Amazon website writes, “Neverland follows a thin line of magic that strings together Hayley Winter’s last shreds of hope. At 18 years old, the thoughts of glimmering kingdom lights and enchanted tea parties were the only way to dull the flashbacks, insecurities, burying of loved ones, etc.”

In addition, the prompt warns, “This is not a happy tale. And despite the green-eyed man who inspires magic with every touch, it’s not a love story either. It’s a reminder to always cherish the things that give us strength, real or make-believe.”

Hayley Winters, however, is not so different from the writer herself.

“The book has been a really big comfort to me because I wrote it about a lot of personal stuff, so it’s kind of like my diary in a weird way,” she said. “[Writing Neverland] was sort of a way for me to write a script of my own struggles, sit down and say, ‘This is how she’s going to respond to this,’ because I didn’t have that much control of myself.”

Vetrano submitted an excerpt of her novel to the Kindle Scout Campaign—a 30-day campaign that involves advertising your book and getting people to vote for it. When she received an acceptance for her submission, she was taken aback.

“I was raised by a librarian so everyone always knew, ‘Oh she loves to read, she loves to write,’” she said. “So the idea that I was writing a book wasn’t really a big shock to anyone, but the fact that I wrote this 300-page book as a teenager, and it was a published, everyone was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’”

Even though she’s not an English major, Vetrano said she is looking forward to pursuing a career related to writing after graduation. 

“Yes, ideally, I would love a career as a novelist, but … it’s not the most realistic thing. So I’d like to go toward the publishing world,” she said.

Right now, she’s planning to take a year off before going to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in young adult and children’s literature. Another dream of hers is to write children’s books.

This is just the start of Vetrano’s career, as she has big and bright plans for her future. Seeing what she’s already done this early in life, it seems like there’s no limit to what she’ll be able to accomplish.