Freshman Anny Schmidt reads her self-published novel "Hidden in San Francisco." Schmidt held a book reading at the Avid Reader in Davis, Sept. 6. (Photo by Cissy Shi)

Freshman self-publishes murder mystery

Writing a novel is tough: you have to deal with writer’s block, a frustrating editor and especially the work and drama of middle school.

Well, maybe not the last part—unless you’re freshman Anny Schmidt, who wrote and published a 200-page murder mystery novel as part of her eighth-grade project at Davis Waldorf School.

“We could choose whatever we wanted (for the project), and I chose writing a book and getting it published,” Schmidt said.

“Some of (the book) was for the project, but it was also for fun. And my friends liked it, so I wrote it for them as well.”

Schmidt’s novel, entitled “Hidden in San Francisco,” tells the story of 15-year-old Kim and her two brothers, whose parents were murdered when Kim was 9.

The murderers left a message on the wall saying they would be back, so Kim and her brothers run away and live among a few different gangs in San Francisco, get caught in the middle of gang rivalries and attempt to discover the truth of their parents’ murder.

Schmidt, who has been writing stories since she was about 6 years old, said the idea for the story came to her in the middle of the night, inspired by the dance movie “Step Up 3.”

“I took the idea of there being some people living in a warehouse—kind of a family of very different people that seem to come together for one thing,” Schmidt said.

“The murder mystery thing kind of just happened.”

[pullquote align=”center” speaker=”Anny Schmidt, freshman”]I might not write anything for two months, but then I suddenly get an idea in my head and I’m writing for days.”[/pullquote]

Schmidt said she used locations she had personally been to and enjoyed, which is why she chose to set it in San Francisco.

She also used her friends as inspiration for her characters, but their personalities “did not entirely sink into their characters.

“Some of them might have liked a specific sports team, so I brought that into their characters,” she said. “Or some of them dressed a certain way, so I made their characters dress the same.”

Schmidt published her book using CreateSpace, a self-publishing service affiliated with Amazon.

CreateSpace allows users to post their books on Amazon, where they are printed and shipped as they are ordered.

The publishing process took less than 24 hours to complete and cost less than $50, although CreateSpace does offer more expensive plans with professional editing.

“Hidden in San Francisco” costs $8.61 on Amazon and is also available at the Avid Reader bookstore in Davis.

Schmidt started writing her novel in June 2012 (Davis Waldorf gives students the whole year and the summer to work on their projects) and finished writing by March to meet the project deadline.

“I like to write kind of by mood,” she said. “I might not write anything for two months, but then I suddenly get an idea in my head and I’m writing for days.”

Schmidt did not have a professional editor but went through the “long and annoying” editing process with her father, William.

“A considerable thing to note is that the book was written and conceived entirely by Anny,” he said. “(My wife and I) didn’t really hear much about it until March, and then she handed us a 195-page manuscript.”

Schmidt instead worked with her mentor and a parent at the school, Christy Corp-Minamiji, but did much of the writing independently.

She has been working on a fantasy novel for the past year, which she hopes to spend more time developing to her taste.

“(‘Hidden in San Francisco’) was never intended to be a mystery novel,” she said. “What I’m writing now is about magic and alternate worlds.”

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