Battle Ground High School student Michlin Swanson took a class project to the next level and published a children’s chapter book, titled “The First Flying Car,” this past April.
Now a sophomore at Battle Ground High School, the idea for the book flourished from an eighth grade writing assignment from Swanson’s teacher, Melissa Theis.
“The project was the write a narrative and I got the first two pages of ‘The First Flying Car,’” Theis said. “It was the end of the eighth grade year when I found out she was publishing the book.”
“The First Flying Car” is a 107-page children’s chapter book about the invention of the first flying car. It’s best suited for third and fourth grade readers. The narrative follows Bob and Suzy, two inventors from Yacolt who invent the first flying car and take it around the world to see places such as Paris, France and the North Pole.
Michlin said that after completing the short assignment in Theis’ class, she couldn’t stop thinking about it and added more to the story most days after school.
“Before I knew it, I had enough for a book,” she said in a news release. “While I dreamed of getting it published, I didn’t really know how to go about it.”
Unknown to Michlin, her mother, Tammy Swanson, sent the manuscript for the book to Newman’s Springs Publishing for a review.
“I sent it in to see how harsh the world is,” Tammy said. “I didn’t want to destroy her motivation.”
A few weeks later, the publisher called back and told Tammy they wanted to publish Michlin’s book.
“I literally dropped the phone,” she said, mentioning how she thought it was a scam at first. “It was unbelievable.”
The call from the publisher started a year-long process of working through edits, designing layouts and creating illustrations. For the artwork, Michlin’s friends Adalie and Kylie Smithline and Evenlynne Samwell drew up some photos that the publishing company’s graphic design team later enhanced for the book.
“She had complete control of the publishing process,” Tammy Swanson said, adding that every aspect was controlled by Michlin to get the product she wanted.
Michlin said the hardest part of writing the book for her was taking her time.
“I almost rush things too fast,” she said. “I needed to take my time to get there.”
The easiest part for her was getting the storyline planned out and finding a suitable ending. She found the editing process tedious but important to the final product.
As for the future, Michlin said her goal is to one day be a professional author or writer. In the meantime, she is excited to take creative writing classes and other English classes in high school and college to further her skills as a writer. She also plans to keep writing the whole time and already has the next two books in the series of “The First Flying Car” written. She is working on another book series in the fantasy genre.
Theis said she is “so proud” of Michlin and “can’t wait to see what she comes up with as the years go on.”
Theis said Michlin wasn’t always a story writer and was very shy in class. However, Theis said she has really enjoyed seeing Michlin branch out with this process.
Her mom, Tammy Swanson, said the publishing of the book has “really helped” the once-shy Michlin open up.
“As teachers you want your kids to learn something and go with it and grab that spark of interest, and to find out that she carried that on and now she has that spark of interest that she’s working on more books, I cannot define how proud I am,” Theis said.
Copies of “The First Flying Car” are available for purchase from Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Michlin will be at the Amboy/Yacolt PTO Country Fair Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Amboy Middle School selling copies in person. The book is also available as an e-Book.