Mechanicville native publishes first book

Mechanicville native Casey Wittchen in her SUNY Albany dorm room, where she's already busy working on her next novel -- make that her next nine.

Mechanicville native Casey Wittchen in her SUNY Albany dorm, where she’s already busy working on her next novel — make that her next nine. (Kyle Adams/Mechanicville Mile)

Mechanicville native Casey Wittchen, or C.A. Wittchen as Amazon.com knows her, published her first book, “Behind Locked Doors”, on Jan. 10 — and the 21-year-old SUNY Albany student isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

“I have about nine books in the works,” she said last week.

Wittchen, a 2011 Mechanicville High School graduate, wrote the book over the course of about six months across her junior and senior years of high school, then spent the next two years editing. “Behind Locked Doors” is the first in the planned nine-part Devils Grace series, says Wittchen, and she’s already hard at work on number two.

“Most of them are already planned out,” she said. “I could literally write the whole entire series in a year if I worked on it constantly.”

“Behind Locked Doors”, a young adult/urban fantasy novel, follows 17-year-old Tempest Laurier as the search for her birth father plunges her into a world of faeries and demons, adventures and secrets. Her investigation into her past “sets her on a crumbling road of physical and psychological pain, along with loses as relationships are tried and truths are discovered. And the one thing Tempest never saw coming is an ugly secret straight into the heart of what should be her normal human life,” according to the book description.

Wittchen says the supernatural elements in the book are not inspired by other fantasy writers — J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien will come to mind for the casual pop culture consumer — as much as by traditional folklore.

“I read a lot, but a lot of my inspiration came from folklore: British folklore, and German, and French and Japanese,” she said.

The book is set in Santa Monica, Ca., a place Wittchen visited with family while the ideas for the book were still rattling around in her mind.

“It was just something that I’ve thought of ever since I was younger,” she said. “Then I went to California and I think that’s where it really took off.”

Wittchen’s mother, Heidi Miller Wittchen, describes a girl with one foot in this world and one in fantasy.

“She’ll take notes on anything,” she said. “She’s got gum wrappers with notes on them, she’s got them on her cell phone, her computer, she’s got napkins from little corner bars that we’ll sit at and go to, and she’ll just go off and start writing something based on what she sees or feels.”

Wittchen started writing around age four and said she’d written short stories and fragments of things throughout her life, but this was her first full novel. She published it herself using Amazon CreateSpace, and it’s available through Amazon as a paperback and for Kindle and Nook. It will also soon be carried by Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza.

The cover of the novel was illustrated by family friend and artist John Hebert, who based the drawing of Tempest on Wittchen — fitting, considering the protagonist seems to draw a lot from Wittchen’s own personality.

“A lot of people said that when they read Tempest, she’s just like me,” said Wittchen. “So maybe Tempest to a certain extent draws from my own experiences.”

Wittchen said the writing comes pretty naturally, and the biggest challenge in writing the book was making time for other pursuits, too — like finishing high school.

“I tried to write about 2,000 words a day and on the weekends I would pretty much write from sunrise to sundown,” she said.

She got plenty of support from her family and the few friends that knew what she was working on, as well as from teachers.

“A lot of the teachers were supportive,” she said. “As soon as they found out I was writing a book, I could do no wrong.”

In addition to the nine books in the Devils Grace series, she says she’s got about that many more unrelated or tangential books in her head, from tales of sorcery to a story about the grandchild of a mafia boss.

At SUNY Albany, she’s majoring in business with a minor in Japanese. Her goal is absolutely to be an author, she says, but she doesn’t see the purpose of pursuing a writing degree.

“The thing is, having a degree in writing doesn’t mean you’re going to be a writer,” she said. “So it’s absolutely pointless. Whereas business, at least I can use that to a certain extent for anything I want to do. I don’t see a point in majoring in something that I’ve been doing my whole life.”


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