Many authors wait until they’ve been seasoned by life’s experiences before they write their first book.
But Carley Barton didn’t need that.
At age 15, the Ahwatukee teen and Desert Vista High sophomore recently published her first book – a children’s book titled “Above the Clouds: What Really Happens in Heaven During a Thunderstorm” because of an experience she had when she was 5.
“This book was inspired by a terrible thunderstorm I got stuck in when I lived in Texas,” explained Carley, the daughter of Stephanie and Jason Barton.
It might not be surprising that the teen has crafted an illustrated book with a religious theme.
Besides belonging to the Thunder track team and the Arizona Elite track team, Carley also is a member of Tukee Young Life and plays guitar in the student worship band at Mountain Park Church.
Nor is it surprising that she wrote the book to help other children terrified by thunderstorms, but also a book that has become a comfort to children who have lost a loved one.
While she still has time before she has to decide what she wants to be when she graduates, she is eying the medical field because “I am a people person and want to make a difference in the lives of others.”
The story is about a little girl who wakes up to a thunderstorm and calls out for her mom. Her mom comes in to console her and tells her not to be afraid.
She then begins to tell her daughter, named Grace in the book, “what is going on in heaven during the thunderstorm,” Carley explained.
“It touches on the main elements of a storm: thunder (dance party), lightning (paparazzi), rain (angels telling funny jokes, they laugh so hard they cry), and wind (race to see which angel gets to be Grace’s guardian angel).
“It’s a new updated version of the angels bowling in heaven,” Carley added.
Though based on an incident that occurred a decade ago, Carley has been rolling it around in her head.
Her project to a degree was a team effort: her mother and her mother’s mother, Sue Milon of Prescott.
“We all contributed something to this book, whether it was bouncing ideas off each other or helping with grammar,” said Carley. “My grandma is a retired school librarian so she knew how to make it appeal to kids.”
The illustrator is the daughter of some close friends to her grandparents.
“We found out that she was an illustrator by talking to her mom one day and she brought it up,” Carley recalled. “We had already written the content and illustration descriptions for the book when we found Kelly. We had first asked her to draw a mother, daughter and an angel. When she had sent us these drafts, they blew us away.”
That resolved one of the biggest challenges Carley faced in writing the book.
“I would say the biggest challenge was the editing and revisions,” Carley said. “Just when we thought we were done, there was another thing to change to make it better.”
Carley said the entire experience of writing the book “has given me a greater appreciation for authors.
“There was so much that I had to learn and figure out and I can’t imagine how chapter books are made so well,” she said.
And though her favorite subjects are math and science, Carley said she thinks she has at least one more book in her.
“Everyone is asking us if we are going to write another book,” she said, “and the answer will be yes.
“It will be linked to this book and the same premise of heaven and angels. We are thinking of going towards helping a child grieve when losing a loved one with guardian angels.”