We should all be as inspired—or inspiring—as Middleburgh author Isabel Skowfoe.
Her “Sabrina Banner, The Soul of a Sorcerer, Book One” is available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon, she’s already working on Book Two in what she envisions as a trilogy, and she’s only 16.
Isabel, who’ll be a junior at Middleburgh Central School, has been reading and now writing most of her life, beginning like a lot of young authors with what’s called fan fic—stories written by fans of and about popular fictional characters and usually shared online—typed in on her phone.
The more she wrote there, though, the more she wanted to “own” her own stories, and after cutting and pasting and cutting pasting what she’d already written into Google Docs, three years ago when she was 13, Isabel sat down and began turning her ideas into “Sabrina.”
“My whole life, I’ve always been jotting ideas, stories down, creating characters…I just wanted to finally turn them into a story and book,” she explained.
“There were some frustrating parts and a lot of writing and rewriting, but I’m finally there.”
Isabel published “Sabrina” through Authorhouse, a self-publishing company that helps with things like marketing.
With the help of her parents, Dawn and Phil Skowfoe III, she’s also working on getting it placed in local stores and once school start again in the fall, hopes to give readings both there and in local libraries.
Isabel’s invested so much of herself in “Sabrina” that she struggles trying to explain the plot line—no matter how many “cheat sheets” she types up for herself; the blurb from the book’s back cover says it best, she said:
“Fifteen-year-old Sabrina Banner often finds herself wanting more out of her average life, but when a strange man appears on her front steps at three o’clock in the morning, Sabrina’s life changes completely.
“She soon finds herself tossed into a realm of magic, and she discovers a…prewritten destiny. Sabrina soon wishes for her old life back when she becomes tangled up in a web of magic, mystery, and betrayal, where everything she knows will be put to the test.”
Isabel defines her genre as fantasy and said her inspiration comes from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, author Ridley Pearson, the Marvel Comic character Dr. Strange, and Disney.
“Definitely Disney,” she said. “No matter how old I get. Disney’s right up there.”
JK Rowling and Harry Potter? Not so much.
“Don’t get me wrong, JK Rowling’s a great writer and the movies are good, but I could never get into the series,” Isabel said.
Isabel’s three words of advice for any writer are: Passion, patience, and persistence.
Which also apply to another part of her life.
Isabel was born with a heart syndrome called 22q11.2 or DiGeorge which in her, impacts her memory, comprehension, and reading skills.
“It’s a big part of who she is and the disabilities she’s had to overcome to do this,” Ms. Skowfoe said.
It’s also meant a sometimes difficult balancing act for her parents as they’ve worked to support Isabel’s career while not setting her up to fail.
“That’s really been my husband,” Ms. Skowfoe said. “I’m the one who says, ‘Well, maybe someday, but you need a Plan B too.’ He’s been more like, ‘The sky’s the limit.’”
“For me, it seems like the characters are just in there, waiting to come out,” Isabel said. “The challenge has been trying to figure out how to tell their stories.”
Her best friend, Ania Keidong, helped create one of the secondary characters in “Sabrina,” but more importantly, Isabel said, she’s a great sounding board.
“I’ll say, ‘How would you handle this?’ She’s always there for feedback and support.”
It’s not a surprise that Isabel is planning a career as an author; starting so young, she believes, will give her a leg up on that.
It’s not all she does, though; she’s had some smaller roles in Timothy Murphy Playhouse productions, loves music, and enjoys sports.
“I have some anxiety in social situations, so it’s one way to push myself,” she said. “Plus acting, especially, is a bit of an escape.”
Like she hopes her books will be for those who read them.