Cooperative News

PEC employee authors young adult novel

Her debut novel, "Hole in the Middle," isn't your average love story

PEC Informational Writer Kendra Fortmeyer was born a storyteller. At 2 years old in her North Carolina home, she would neatly arrange her stuffed bears as an audience for off-the-cuff stories about mermaids and Barbie dolls, which her grandfather typed and printed for safekeeping.

Yellow book on white table
Fortmeyer’s novel has only been out for two weeks, and the ratings have left her speechless. “Hole in the Middle” has five stars on Amazon and 4.5 stars on Goodreads. (Photo courtesy Atom Books)

Twenty-nine years later, she is a published author, having released a young adult novel, “Hole in the Middle,” which was published this month.

In the spring of 2012, Fortmeyer was a graduate student at The University of Texas’ New Writers Project, searching for inspiration for a short story assignment. She stumbled across the idea for her novel by accident when she returned to her room one night after a particularly lousy date. Analyzing the situation, she said to herself, “This would be so much harder if I had a hole in my middle.”

“Which is completely irrational,” Fortmeyer admitted, “but because I was looking for inspiration, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s my story.’ The first line of the story then just popped into my head, and I immediately wrote down the entire first page.”

But after she turned in her short story, she felt the character wasn’t done talking. The protagonist, Morgan, still had more to say.

Fortmeyer then began the process of writing a novel, which takes an enormous amount of discipline and isn’t nearly as glamorous as some may think, she said. She set a strict writing schedule and a goal to write 1,000 words per day. In her words, “If you do not do the work, the work will not get done.”

“Sitting in the chair and writing is what counts,” Fortmeyer said. “I love writing, and I love the idea of the artist working whenever inspiration strikes, but making yourself work even if you don’t feel like it is how art crosses the bridge from idea to reality.”

A year and a half later, Fortmeyer began to send completed manuscripts of Morgan’s story, titled “Hole in the Middle,” to literary agents. After a lengthy and daunting process, she signed with an agent, who sold the book to Atom Books, a British arm of Little, Brown and Company. The book was released in the U.K. on July 6 and will also be published in German by Oetinger (which published the original “Pippi Longstocking” books) this September.

“Hole in the Middle” isn’t your average young adult love story. It also explores becoming famous. This is the new romance that society markets to girls around the world, Fortmeyer said, citing shows like “Hannah Montana” and “iCarly,” and her novel addresses this theory head-on.

“I want girls everywhere to know that you don’t need someone or even fame to be fulfilled,” Fortmeyer said. “The greatest romance of your life can be with yourself, which is beautiful and something to be proud of.”

She considers the book magical realism — a genre at the intersection of reality and fantasy. She hopes to write more in the fantasy genre when she’s finished with her current work-in-progress, a contemporary realist young adult novel.

Fortmeyer wants everyone to know that if they dream of writing a novel to simply do it.

“It can be tough and tedious and a tremendous amount of work,” Fortmeyer explained. “But it’s undeniably worth it.”