BGHS sophomore publishes children’s chapter book

Melissa Theis with Michlin SwansonWhat started as a short story writing assignment in middle school has led to Battle Ground High School sophomore Michlin Swanson earning the distinction of “published author.” Michlin (pronounced Mike-Lynn), now a tenth grader at BGHS, achieved the impressive feat when her debut book, a 107-page children’s chapter book titled “The First Flying Car,” was published earlier this year.

The assignment that Amboy Middle School teacher Melissa Theis gave to her 8th grade English Language Arts class was straightforward and open-ended: write a short story on any school-appropriate topic or genre. Swanson said that before she was given the project, she had been thinking about ways cars could be made to fly, and that she imagined designs in her head. Still pondering her flying car designs when the assignment landed on her desk, Swanson began writing a story about two people who built a flying car and went on adventures exploring the world.

“I’m so proud of Michlin,” Theis said. “She deserves recognition for all the work she put into this, and it’s impressive that she turned a seventh grade narrative writing assignment into a published book.”

After completing the assignment, Michlin said she couldn’t stop thinking about it, and started adding more to the story.” “Before I knew it, I had enough for a book,” Swanson said. “While I dreamed of getting it published, I didn’t really know how to go about it.”

Unbeknownst to her, Swanson’s mother Tammy sent a copy of the manuscript to Newman’s Springs Publishing for review. Within a few weeks, the Swansons received a response saying the company was interested in publishing the book, kicking off a yearlong process of working through edits, design layouts, and creating the illustrations and cover artwork. 

For the book’s artwork, Swanson recruited her friends Adalie Smithline, Kylie Smithline, and Evenlynne Samwell for help. The group drew many illustrations that they sent to Newman’s Springs Publishing. The company’s graphic artists enhanced the student illustrations, creating the professional versions that appear in the book.  

“I was able to have complete ownership over every aspect of the publishing process, making sure it was laid out just how I wanted the finished book to look,” Swanson said. “It’s been a great experience from start to finish, and I’m proud of the result.”

The First Flying Car cover art

Throughout the editing and layout process, Swanson never stopped adding to the story, and says she has written enough material to author two additional books that would complete a “First Flying Car” series. Not only that, but Swanson has started writing another book series in the magical/fantasy genre.

Swanson says that her goal is to someday be a professional author or writer, and that she also has an interest in screenwriting. In the meantime, Swanson said she’s eager to continue taking creative writing classes in high school and college to enhance her skills even further.

“I’m very grateful to the teachers who’ve supported me and helped instill in me a deep love of reading and writing,” Swanson said. “One of the main things I’ve learned through all of this is that a little progress each day adds up to big results. Even though things may get hard in some spots, I’d encourage others to work hard to achieve their goals and never give up. In the end, it will be worth it.”

“The First Flying Car” is 107 pages long and is best suited for kids in the third or fourth grade, Swanson said. Print copies of the book are available for purchase from Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and an electronic version is also available as an Amazon Kindle book. Swanson will be at the Amboy/Yacolt PTO Country Fair Bazaar at Amboy Middle School on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. selling copies in person.