Those attending the annual Kiwanis Stars of Tomorrow this month got a brief look into a literary world created by Lillian Johndreau, who shared parts of her story “THREE, TWO, ONE, GO!” and earned a second place in Division 2.
A home schooled sixth grade student, Johndreau said around third grade her mother, Julie, asked her to write a story. For there, she developed the characters and plot, and wrote several stories before realizing writing is something she really enjoys.
“It’s only been three years, but it seems like forever of wanting to be a writer.”
As for the story behind THREE, TWO, ONE, GO!, she noted it began as a dream, one which she modified to create the story of an enchanted playground where a group of children becomes stuck for several decades — never aging —before finding a way out.
“I dream a lot of my stories,” she noted.
There’s an interesting background as to where Johndreau’s characters come from. “I never use anything normal,” she said, “so they’re somewhat exotic.” She also has synesthesia, a condition in which she sees words in colors, “so I want to choose a name where the color sort of matches the personality.”
As to her own reading shelf, Johndreau said she enjoys Neil Gaiman, and Cornelia Funke is her favorite.
From the time she dreams up a story to the point where she considers it a finished work is several months, Johndreau said. She is already planning to expand the universe she started with THREE, TWO, ONE, GO! — a story begun in November and finished in February — with a sequel and prequel in the works.
“I sort of change things as I go along, so I don’t have to go back,” Johndreua said of her editing process.
Though she’s written more stories than she could put a number to, Johndreau said there are two she considers her “masterpieces.” Those are the Witch Detective series and Fish Diary. The latter, she noted, is somewhat of a call to action as it centers around a diary passed down to each generation of fish. The animals then comment on topics such as the state of the ocean and decline of the reefs.
She also has several little stories that she works on for a few days then drops, “but it’s just fun to play with them for a while.”
Though she feels it’s a bit cliché, Johndreau advises anyone considering writing to “never give up.” She further added budding writers should never try to force a story. “Just give it time . . . just let it flow.” Moving forward, one of her big ambitions is to write as a career. “I really, really want to be an author,” she said.