writing

Rebecca McNutt is one of Halifax’s most prolific authors

She wrote her first novel at 12 and hasn’t looked back

Rebecca McNutt reads a book in the Halifax Central Library.   Alex Rose

Rebecca McNutt has published more books and stories in six years than many  accomplished authors write in their entire careers.

According to her Goodreads page, McNutt, 18, is the author of 25 distinct works. By her account, about 10 of those are short stories and the rest are novels. Her first novel, Smog City, was written when she was 12. It takes place in Cape Breton, where McNutt lived when she was four and visited every summer and Christmas until about 2013. Since then, she has written three more instalments.

“I like being able to invent something that no one else has created before; the imagination aspect is a lot of fun,” she says. “I write fiction novels, I’d say mostly paranormal, supernatural, that kind of genre of books.”

Before McNutt started college, she would spend as much as five hours a day writing. Now that she’s in the Library and Information Technology program at NSCC she hasn’t had as much time to write. Her last piece was a Grim Reaper story she wrote around Halloween.

When she is writing she listens to a lot of music on her vinyl record player, watches films and goes for drives with her family. She finds the scenery in rural areas inspiring, and is especially interested in places that have a vivid history. For example, much of her writing has been influenced by Cape Breton’s industrial history from the turn of the century.

Because of her work ethic, it doesn’t take her long to complete a novel.

“It can be anywhere from a month to six months, depending on how long it is,” she says.

Jennifer McNutt, Rebecca’s mother, says her daughter has always been interested in reading and writing “even when she was very, very young.”

Despite this, Jennifer McNutt ended up learning about her daughter’s writing from an unexpected source.

“I found out when a publishing company called and told us that they would love to publish her book, but they didn’t realize that she was only 10 at the time,” she says.

That publishing company is CreateSpace. McNutt has been self-publishing through them since she wrote her first novel. At first she wanted to try the traditional publishing route,because it has a much better capacity for promotion and distribution, but that wasn’t a feasible option for her.

“A lot of places won’t publish books by kids. They won’t publish books that don’t already have a good reputation. They expect you to have a literary agent. I mean, when you’re 12, how do you afford that?” says Rebecca McNutt.

McNutt has been unexpectedly satisfied with her experience in self-publishing because it’s a lot easier and cheaper than she thought it would be. 

Brendon Thomas is a senior support analyst for CreateSpace. He says self-publishing has many advantages over the traditional route about which prospective authors might not be aware.

“All that we require from the author is to submit admission requirements and we’ll certainly do the rest. It provides easy access into this industry,” he says. “You can actually approve your book and make it available within 24 hours if you have the files available. That’s compared to traditional, which takes about six months to complete a proof copy.”

McNutt has made about $200 from book sales. Most of her fans are from the United States and United Kingdom.

“It’s an interesting way to meet people too, people from places you’ve never even been,” she says. “You get to learn about where they’re from, what their experiences writing have been like.”

She has also gained many fans online when they exchange their stories to read and review.

Currently McNutt’s writing is on hold, at least until mid-April when she finishes school, but she already has an idea for a new short story.

She also has some advice for aspiring writers.

“Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it; there’s a lot of discouraging remarks that can get made towards beginning writers, especially from traditional publishers. Either they that don’t take your works seriously, or don’t understand your work,” she says.

“It’s incredibly easy to do once you get started with it. It’s a lot of fun. So there’s really no reason anybody can’t do it.”

 

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