Karina Breyer sure didn’t let a global pandemic and a months-long school closure cast her into a funk.
The Ahwatukee teen used that time to finish a 300-page novel that she started at age 11.
Now 14 and a freshman at Desert Vista High School, Karina self-published “A 300 Step Guide to Losing Yourself,” available on amazon.com.
She hopes to get it on brick-and-mortar bookshelves soon.
Her novel centers around a girl named Faye who has lived the last 13 years in an abusive family in a poor, dystopian country. One day she awakes to find herself in the custody of the country’s president as her captors demand what she knows about a secret “portal.”
She tries to tell them that she has no idea what they’re talking about. But, as she escapes her captors, Karina explained, “she discovers a side of herself she could have never fathomed – along with a little magic.”
As the book jacket notes, Faye didn’t quite have all that in mind.
“The goal was to outlive my family, not find a new one. The hope was to stay in the shadows, not become one,” Karina’s heroine says.
The daughter of Ahwatukee attorneys Mark and Alexis Breyer and the next-to-youngest of their eight children, Karina was just entering Kyrene Altadena Middle School when she started her book.
“There would be days that I would write for hours as well as months where I wouldn’t write at all,” she recalled. “My schedule is packed so the quarantine was when I got most of my writing done. Once written I edited it six times.”
That schedule has stayed busy in high school. She is on Desert Vista’s student council and Speech and Debate team and off campus, she is part of the competition team at the Innerlight Dance Center.
Not surprisingly, her favorite subject is English, she said, “because I love to write.”
While Suzanne Collins is her favorite author “because of her use of character development, plot, and writing style is so intriguing and inspiring,” she was inspired by others in writing her first novel.
“While my imagination took over, Harry Potter and the Hunger Games inspired many aspects,” she said.
And, she added, “I didn’t have any direct help but my 2nd and 5th grade teachers are a huge reason why I am in love with writing. I dedicated this book to them.”
As for who inspired her characters, it was a mixed bag.
“A few of the characters are inspired by my family,” said Karina. “These characters are introduced halfway into the novel and are slightly based on my family’s personalities and actions.
“My sister, Talia, has ocular histoplasmosis, a rare eye condition where she has to get shots in her eyes.
“At one point, the main character, Faye, gets a needle to her eye. I got the name for one character, Taylor Skye, when I put up a snapchat story asking for someone to respond to it with their name. Taylor and Skye were the first two people to do so.”
Karina also credits her first major literary foray to her family.
“My friends and family have been extremely supportive,” Karina said.
“I am so lucky to know all of these incredible people who have helped me through the process and who have inspired me to keep working hard.”
And she’s not nearly finished with her page-turner tale.
“At the end of the book,” she explained, “there are many plot holes and mysteries that I’m excited to unfold. I have three more books planned out and am hoping to make this trilogy happen.”
Despite her age, Karina has an idea about what she wants to be when she reaches adulthood, though she conceded, “That’s a really hard question.”
“As of right now I would love to become an author and screenwriter as well as a dance teacher on the side.”