Recently, two Deerfield students, Andari Deswandhy ’19 and Ashley Stewart ’20, each went through the process of publishing their own books, both geared towards educating children.
The idea for Deswandhy’s book, entitled Enchanting Tales from Indonesia, was conceived several years ago when she attended a British international school in Indonesia. She noticed that many local primary schools in Indonesia had scarce resources to teach their children English. “My cousins go to local schools… when they learn English, they don’t read books because they don’t have the [resources],” Deswandhy explained.
The idea truly took off last year when she received a summer grant from Deerfield’s Center for Service and Global Citizenship (CSGC). She then connected with Gramedia, an Indonesian publishing company, and began writing, compiling traditional Indonesian folktales that many children were likely told growing up, and adapting them in English rather than Indonesian.
“I played off of the stories’ main message,” Deswandhy described. “I wanted to get them right but also put my own twist on it … I would add in some scenes and take out some that I thought weren’t as important to the message of the story.”
After several months of writing and editing, Deswandhy published the book in March 2017. The book has received widespread attention in Indonesia, and was chosen by the National Book Committee for many book fairs. Deswandhy has also done book signings to further publicize her book. Even the President of Indonesia is aware of it.
“The President of Indonesia got a copy of my book somehow, and signed it … so now I have the book in my home with the president’s signature in it,” Deswandhy said.
Stewart’s book was published just this past fall. Entitled The Friend I Never Wanted, it details the story of a bullied young girl named Kelly, as she struggles to adjust to her new school.
Stewart began writing the novel over 5 years ago, when she was only 10 years old. Upon her parent’s rediscovery of the story, they encouraged her to finish and publish it. After working with a publishing company and an illustrator, Stewart’s book was finally released to the public, and is currently available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
“Bullying is not okay in schools,” Stewart said. “That’s what sparked me to write this book. I wanted to show people they should stop bullying … [Bullies] are insecure. They don’t know how to deal with their feelings.”
So far, many of Stewart’s friends and family have supported her book, and she plans to have several book signings when she returns home for Thanksgiving break.
However, neither Stewart nor Deswandhy plan on having careers as writers. Deswandhy explained, “I don’t really see myself as an author, but I see myself as working in the United Nations … Learning about different cultures is what I really like.”
Stewart said that she hopes to continue writing as a hobby: “I want to be a lawyer, and write books on the side.”
Both authors have found success in their book publications, and have plans to expand upon this success in the future.