There’s something about time travel and technologically advanced mermaids helping a young girl fend off the apocalypse that calls to young readers.

China Dennington, an Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) tenth grader, learned that with the success of her first book, Standing. With more than 1,300 copies in circulation, this student author has a second book (Cadence) nearing publication and the third book of her trilogy (Clarity) in the works.

China has also discovered that writing is hard work but has its perks. She recently enjoyed interacting with fans at her first book signing at the Tucson Festival of Books (an event that draws the likes of noted authors such as Amy Tan, Valerie Plame, and Dave Barry).

She says that she most enjoys expressing her creativity through the written word, and it’s apparent she believes that good should always prevail over evil.

“The stakes are high, the odds against her,” writes Dennington in reference to her lead character in Standing. “Can she overcome her fears and step into her destiny? . . .When a spark of justice inside a person flames, it can grow into a blaze.”

As well as her talent for the written word, China, who previously lived in Dallas and Kansas City, is also comfortable with video. She made her first TV appearance at the age of four.  With a little help from AZVA, it appears her career in creative media is ready to take flight.

“China’s father and I couldn’t be more proud of our daughter,” says Monica Dennington. “Her talent and initiative as a teen author have been well served by attending online school. K12 and AZVA have made it possible for China to pursue her dreams, and we’re very grateful.”

LL: What inspired you to become an author at such an early age?

CD: I love to write! I’ve always wanted to be published. When I was ten, I decided that I wanted to start working toward that goal, so I did.

LL: Why did you decide to write a trilogy right out of the gate?  Isn’t that a big commitment?

CD: Standing wasn’t originally going to be the start of a trilogy. In fact, I was well through the process of revising before I decided that. I had a couple ideas for stories set in the same world, and so I made the decision. It is a big commitment, but the opportunity to create different, intertwining stories makes it worth it.

LL: How would you describe the theme of the trilogy?  What are the similarities and differences between the three books?

CD: The general theme of the trilogy is that you should always persevere and do the right thing, no matter how hard the circumstances become. Some of the similarities between all three books are that they feature mermaids, time travel, and that two of the books feature the same cast of characters. All three of my main characters have to cope with difficult emotions. A big difference between the books is that they all feature a different main character.

LL: Do you know approximately how many copies you have actually sold to this point?

CD: The first time I did a giveaway of free eBooks on Amazon, I hit number one on the free Teen and Young Adult, and Action and Adventure eBooks chart, as well the free Teen and Young Adult Dystopian chart, and the free Teen and Young Adult Science Fiction chart. (As of September 1, 2015) Standing is currently number 433 in Teen Time Travel physical books and number 610,415 in all Kindle eBooks. I have over 1,300 books in distribution.

LL: How have you become a better writer now than when you started? 

CD: There’s a natural improvement the more I write. Becoming a better writer is about gaining the instinct as you write and discovering effective ways to evoke emotions in your readers.

LL: Who is your favorite mainstream author and why?

CD: I like the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer Nielsen because it’s a wonderful story with an awesome, but completely-human main character.

LL: When you’re not writing, what are your favorite activities—just for fun?

CD: I like to read, participate in AZVA’s student government, and hang out with my friends and family.

LL: So, what are your goals for your high school years? Are there more books in the works and have you set any long-term goals?

CD: A couple of my goals for the remainder of my high school years are to publish five books (total) and take college courses. I’m working on a couple of fantasy novels. Another one of my goals is to have my book made into a movie.

LL: How has your family supported your work? Are any family members reflected in your writing?

CD: My parents and siblings are awesome and very supportive. My parents helped me a great deal with publishing. They made sure that it was done the right way. My family does appear in my books in abstract ways, but not as in an “everything about this character is based strictly on this sibling” type of way.

LL:  What tip would you give an aspiring writer who is seeking to get published for the first time?  How did you go about getting published?

CD: Go for it—and do your research! Research is very important, because sometimes it can be tricky to make sure you have what you need to self-publish. I researched my options for ISBNs (International Standard Book Number), how to be included in the Library of Congress, and how to make my book available through retailers like Barnes & Noble. I wanted to make sure I was taking the right steps to get a professional product. I also enjoy promoting my book, e.g.,  organizing a blog tour and arranging giveaways. . . . My books (paperback and Kindle) can be purchased on Amazon.com.

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