To stress less during his Year 12 studies, St Columba's Catholic College Springwood student Oliver Smuhar committed up to three hours of an evening to creative writing. As a result, Oliver has self-published his first novel, The Gifts of Life, all before doing his HSC exams!
The aspiring journalist started writing the fantasy novel in January 2017 and finished at 486 pages six months later.
“I have always enjoyed writing as a kid and one day I mentioned to my mum and dad that I wanted to write this novel and they liked the idea,” Oliver said.
“It was a huge commitment, especially when I had assessment tasks for school to complete and at times I felt it was a bit crazy, but it was also a good project to focus on instead of getting stressed out about upcoming exams.
“The biggest headache was all the paperwork attached to getting the book self-published, but it was good to see what it is like to have responsibilities like in the adult world,” Oliver said.
Oliver was inspired by the classic novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as the experience of travelling to Europe.
“The main character is a lot like myself and my friends and family also played a big part in forming the other characters throughout the book,” he said.
“The book is about a world called Oberon, which is similar to Australia. It is about a 16-year-old boy, Perry Caduca, who lives in a city called Kelton Whide. “Together with his best friend Faith, Perry attends the annual Ascension Ceremony to celebrate the switching on of Kelton Whide’s beacon. It is here that they are made aware of their super powers.
“Something sinister forces Perry to abandon his home city and go on a journey which results in him and his friends being forced to fight for their survival. As it becomes more dangerous, their powers begin to mutate. The only resolution comes in finding the Gifts of Life, truth that has the power to change the world.”
St Columba's College Assistant Principal Carol Muscat said the school is very proud of Oliver, especially as he managed to write his fantasy novel during his HSC year.
“It is an enormous achievement for anyone, but especially for a student who was also completing Year 12,” Ms Muscat said.
“I hope this inspires other students to follow their dreams and persevere. Always set high expectations for yourself and never give up.”