Editor's Note: The following information was provided by the Marlborough School District.
Marlborough High School Senior Ali Russohas added a new accomplishment to a resume that includes all-star vocalist and honor roll student — published author.
The journey from writing in journals to penning a young adult novel began when Russo was 15. She and her father spend part of their summers on Nantucket, a “special place that recharges me for the new school year” she said. It’s a place of memories, both hers and her father’s, and one night she started writing about those memories.
Two hours and 20 pages later, Russo realized she wanted to do more with the collection. She and her father would have “writer’s meetings” at the dinner table on Thursdays. She recalls a long dinner at Bertucci’s one evening when they developed the plot.
The book was a year in the making, a year of passing up social engagements with friends and long nights in front of the computer. Russo had a self-imposed rule of 10 pages a day, regardless of what else was going on.
“The very late hours of the night and very early hours of the morning is when I do my best writing,” Russo said. “It just pours out. And it’s so much more raw, more pure.” Her parents used to fret over her late hours, but Russo would point to her GPA and they would back off.
Russo remembers finishing the book while on an airplane. She had talked the attendant into letting her keep her laptop on because the words were pouring out and she didn’t want to lose momentum.
After rejection letters from multiple publishers littered her mailbox, Russo turned to independent publishing. In January her dream became reality and her hard work paid off when her book was released. She keeps her rejection letters pinned to her wall to remind her that perseverance works.
A photograph taken by Russo’s father covers the book, reminding them what a personal and family-rich experience it’s been. “Both of my parents are very proud,” she said. “They’ve been my fans 100 percent of the way.”
Russo admits she was a little hesitant to tell her teachers the news of the book’s release, and not because they would not be supportive.
“The book was published right around mid-term time, and I didn’t want to tell any of them about it and have them think it was being used as leverage,” she said. “So I waited until after the exams to tell them.”
Russo expressed gratitude for Spanish teacher Kristine Kazarian, who read the first manuscript and offered support and encouragement. Russo also said her friends have been very supportive and understanding about her commitment to her writing.
Russo hopes the book’s proceeds will help defray her college expenses; she has applied to a few area colleges and wants to study creative writing and publishing.
Russo’s advice for aspiring writers? “It’s cliché, but you have to keep going. It’s about perseverance. Some days it’s harder to write than others. Keep going, every day. Write every day even if you don’t use it.”