L.J. Hardwicke’s Red Watson and the Gifted Lands is a “coming of age” story

By Keira Silver

Gilroy resident L.J. Hardwicke began her novel writing career in fifth grade when her mom gave her a Chromebook laptop to record her ideas.

“I was amazed,” she said. “I wrote every day on the computer.”

That daily habit of hitting the keyboard paid off. Earlier this year, the 14-year-old published a novel titled Red Watson and the Gifted Land. She’s now promoting it in the South Valley.

Hardwicke progressed with her creative talents by finding writing motivation from walking in her neighborhood and observing nature. She has gathered inspiration from movies and TV shows. She enjoys using her porch swing as an outdoor writing environment.

“I have a journal that I use, and I write down ideas,” she said. “I have maybe 100 ideas, but only use four.”

After experimenting with various topics and settings, Hardwicke chose to focus on the genre of fantasy fiction because of the way she is able to incorporate deeper meanings into the story. She believes fantasy provides more creativity and freedom for any writer.

“You can make a whole new world with just your imagination,” she said. “I find that absolutely incredible.”

This focus gave Hardwicke the idea to pen a fantasy fiction novel during both summer and her eighth-grade year.

“When I first found out I could write a novel, it became my goal,” she said. “Since I’m young, it would be absolutely incredible to have published a novel.”

Hardwicke’s first book tells the tale of a girl who is capable of manipulating her surroundings with her emotions. It’s a coming-of-age story.

“I wanted to incorporate as much of my talent in writing as I could,” Hardwicke said.

It took about a year for Hardwicke to complete her novel. After submitting some sample chapters to a publisher, Writers Republic, Hardwicke had to wait about two weeks for feedback so she could finish her story. After about a month, she received the final cover design and was able to publish her book.

“I’m definitely so grateful I had that communication with them,” she said.

Hardwicke received support from her parents and teachers during the writing and publishing processes.

“They thought it was amazing what I was doing,” she said. “I’m so grateful I have this support from everyone.”

Hardwicke is a freshman at the Dr. T.J. Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA) based at Gavilan College’s Gilroy campus. In her spare time, she enjoys archery and singing. She is also a board member on the Gilroy Library’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB).

Hardwicke wishes young people might  read her book because she hopes they  will be motivated to also write something ambitious like a novel, she said.

“I want people to be inspired,” she said. “If you’re young, you don’t really feel you can do much. I feel this would definitely help.”

Hardwicke feels she can help others as an experienced mentor for writing.

“I’ve gotten a few emails asking me to review some drafts,” she said. “I feel if I can help in any way, that’s absolutely amazing.”

Hardwicke is planning a trilogy over the course of a long time. In the future, her goal is to focus on literature for college.

“Writing a book is rolling the dice,” she said. “You never know how it’s going to turn out. I definitely want to make this a hobby, but if it does become more popular, then we’ll see what happens.”

Hardwicke believes anybody can write if they wish to pursue it because of its worth. She hopes her novel will be relatable to readers of all ages.

“It’s kind of a deeper dive into a teenager’s mind,” she said. “I want people to like the characters, the setting, (and) the plot. I hope people can resonate with it.”

Hard work and education will allow anyone to accomplish their goals, the young author believes

“Anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” she said. “You never know what could happen if you put your heart out onto a piece of paper.”

Keira Silver is a senior at Christopher High School. She wrote this story with mentorship from publisher Martin Cheek.