Estee Ratcliff: 15-year-old BCHS student publishes sci-fi novel

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 1/20/19

Some people struggle to write, while for others the issue of finding a publisher is what stops a book from coming to fruition. For Estee Ratcliff, a local 15-year-old, those struggles flew by the …

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Estee Ratcliff: 15-year-old BCHS student publishes sci-fi novel

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Some people struggle to write, while for others the issue of finding a publisher is what stops a book from coming to fruition.

For Estee Ratcliff, a local 15-year-old, those struggles flew by the wayside after participating in a writing camp at Barnes & Noble, which helped her write and publish her  full-length novel, “Kanion Legacy.”

A sophomore at Bradley Central High School, Ratcliff even held a book signing at Barnes & Noble in November to celebrate the completion of her novel.

“Kanion Legacy” is about  Ariana Viridian, who comes to Earth after her world is destroyed in a battle with neighboring planets. While several members of her race – the Vitralians – can conceal their preternatural abilities by sealing them away, Ariana's “seal” breaks and her powers are exposed.

This book is the first in a trilogy, as the ambitious Ratcliff plans to complete her saga with two more novels in the near future.

The idea for “Kanion Legacy” began when Ratcliff was in eighth grade as a writing assignment. She continued expanding the subject matter for over a year into the summer 2018, which is when she attended Barnes & Noble’s tuition-based writing camp  — A Novel Idea The camp guided Ratcliff throughout the final writing steps leading to completion, and the chain eventually published the work.

An avid reader and TV fan, Ratcliff said she gets inspiration from all forms of media; however, she says a few franchises stick out when seeking guidance. These include “Transformers,” with its constant battle between the Autobots and Decepticons, as well as the plentiful supply of superhero films. 

“I didn’t expect my book to be as otherworldly as it is. I initially wanted it to be set on Earth, but as I wrote, the story grew and logic had to be cast aside. This allowed my writing to be granted free reign, so I delved more into science fiction and fantasy, which I fully embraced,” Ratcliff said.

She said she always enjoyed her writing assignments in school. Up until this point, she’d only written short stories, with nothing close to novel length.

A Novel Idea, the writing camp for youth, is based out of Nashville. It  was founded by Tama McCoy and her daughter. The camp runs the entire month of June, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. While the students are not told what to write,  the sessions do help students put the pieces together for a genuine novel. It is only available for middle and high school students, which means Ratcliff can attend two more times, if she chooses.  She said when she was in the camp, the group of potential writers numbered less than a dozen.

When she began writing “Kanion Legacy,” Ratcliff had no idea of the time it would take to create a novel, and admits she waited a bit too close to the deadline, which led to some last-minute stress to complete her novel. She doesn’t plan to repeat this mistake with the following two books in her trilogy.

“Near the end I was so angry with myself for taking my time for granted. The next ones though, I’ll be much more prepared. I plan to start on the second book in the next few weeks, after I finish another book series I’m reading,” she said with a laugh.

Ratcliff uses the pen name Estee Victoria for her novels, which was what her grandmother once called her. It was her grandfather who paid for the camp’s tuition initially. Ratcliff also earned a scholarship for the camp as well.
Ratcliff's mother, Jennifer, said her father was happy to pay the tuition because he believed Estee could write a full novel, and believed his small contribution would open up numerous doors for his granddaughter.

When she’s not writing novels, Ratcliff works with the video production teams at Bradley recording sports and other events. She’s not sure if she wants to do video as a career, but she is happy to keep it as an option. She is also a talented animator who has submitted several animations to contests.

For future works, she said she hopes to write more science fiction, as she doesn’t want to just be limited to Earth as a setting and wants to "explore" other planets.

Although college is a bit far in the future, Ratcliff said she is considering Lee University or Middle Tennessee State University, but otherwise isn’t certain.

When they discovered their daughter had written a full novel, Ratcliff’s parents, Jennifer and Scott, said they were overjoyed by their daughter’s literary success.

“Our kids are constantly reading,” said Jennifer. “So to have her holding a book she wrote herself is just wild. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.”

“Kanion Legacy” can be purchased from www.lulu.com or at the brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble bookstore at Hamilton Place Mall.

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