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West Linn native solidifies status as novelist for young people



Francesca Varela made her big breakthrough as a writer two years ago with the success of her novel “Call of the Sun Child.”

Now, the West Linn native is back with another novel called “Listen,” which she hopes will surpass her first book. Varela, 23, is a young woman making her own dream to be a writer come true by telling stories of young women who make their dreams come true, and their adventures in the natural world.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Francesca Varela

“ ‘Listen’ is the story of May, a college girl who dreams of musical greatness; she wants to be a piano virtuoso and a master composer,” Varela said.

To tell this story Varela brings together two crucial parts of her life – music and nature. If the character May resembles Varela it’s no coincidence.

“I wrote ‘Listen’ when I was living in a dorm room at the University of Oregon,” Varela said. “That was my first year on campus, and I was inspired by nearly everything around me. My environmental studies courses, the college way of life, and the classical music I played on the piano in my free time.

“In ‘Listen’ I wanted to communicate the same theme as ‘Call of the Sun Child’ – urging readers to rekindle their connection with the natural world.”

The big difference this time around is that now a bunch of readers are waiting for Varela’s book, because her first novel was highly successful. Reviewers praised the “raw emotion” she brought to her writing. “Call of the Sun Child” won the bronze medal for best first book at the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and it was a finalist in the young-adult category at the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

The success of her first book caused Varela to be swamped with opportunities. She has given readings at festivals, bookstores and libraries throughout Oregon, and she has written for several environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club. Her publisher, Homebound Publications, has even asked her to serve on their board of directors so she can share her opinions as a young person and an environmentalist. The demand for her book allowed her to travel to Hawaii and Europe, and later this month she will be traveling to Thailand.

The lessons Varela learned from her first book were invaluable.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Listen is Varela's second novel.

“Working with a small/independent publishing company I learned firsthand what it takes to bring a book to life,” she said. “I was involved with the cover design, the page layout, and the process of finding reviewers. I was also heavily involved in marketing, including real-life events and social media efforts.”

At the ripe age of 24, Varela finds herself in the position of advising aspiring young writers who want to be just like her.

“I feel like a lot of young people are urged to wait until they’re older to begin writing, because with more life experience the more they’ll have to say,” Varela said. “But I don’t think that’s true. Our insights change with every age and what we have to say right now is as important as what we’ll have to say in 10 years.”

For more about Francesca Varela go to francescavarela.com .

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