It started with a dream, dedication, and a lot of hard work. The dream was about birds in the forests: cardinals and blue jays, struggling for freedom. “When I woke up, I just couldn’t help it,” she recalls. “I just had to hatch my bird story.” Nancy Yi Fan set aside a half hour a day to work on her book and took many walks in the woods to watch birds, notebook in hand, to record her ideas and develop her plot. It wasn’t easy. Peace and freedom are large topics for a young girl to wrestle with. Many girls her age are still complaining about five paragraph papers for English class. And Nancy is a recent immigrant to America, having only arrived from her native China six year ago, speaking almost no English.
To prepare herself for writing this book, she studied birds in the wild, researched thoroughly on the internet and at her library, sometimes taking home cart-fulls of books and even enrolled in a Kung Fu class so that she could better describe the sword fights which take place between the birds in her story.
Who would have thought she would have her first publishing contract with an American publisher at the age of twelve? And already working on a prequel, also to be published by Harper Collins?
Her book is called Swordbird and is being published by HarperCollins with a first run of 50,000 books. It is also being released in China.
I could not find much personal information about her, other than she “attended American public schools until fifth grade.” The Guardian reports she is now living back in China and PublishersWeekly reports she is living with her parents in Florida, where her father is working on his doctorate. I hope with that kind of talent and dedication that she isn’t wasting her time in public school all day. There’s more for her to learn in researching her next book.