Every street has a story. In this feature, I will be bringing you stories that showcase our citizens (past and present), and their Ft. Thomas roots. If you have an interesting story you would like to share with Ft. Thomas Matters, please contact us via email, Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments section below.
South Grand Avenue may seem like an easy, quick route through town, or hilly terrain for a great workout, but it's much more than that. South Grand Avenue was also the old stomping grounds of up-and-coming author, Sara Celi. Celi's roots are firmly planted in the Ft. Thomas area. She graduated from Highlands High School in 2000 before pursuing her journalism career. She kicked off her journalism career at Cincinnati's FOX19, and now works as a news anchor in Oklahoma. While working as a news anchor, Celi balanced her journalism career with her personal dream of being a novelist.
Her first novel, The Undesirable, is a Mature Young Adult/New Adult book available now for purchase on Amazon Kindle. The Undesirable follows the story of 18-year-old Charlotte Walker as she matures and experiences love against the backdrop of a futuristic war. According to Amazon, "Charlotte Walker knows how to live under the rule of The Party. She has managed for 18 years. She helps out her drunken mother and keeps life going at a familiar, steady pace. She doesn't ask questions, even though she has many of them in her heart. Fostino Sanchez knows how to live under the rule of The Party, too. For 19 years, he's worked to be the perfect Party member. He knows what must be done to keep Maxwell Cooper in power, and how find the The Undesirables that threaten to take away everything that matters. As the months go by, what matters most to Fostino is Charlotte Walker. While their love blooms, danger comes to Charlotte and Fostino's small hometown of Harrison Corners, OH. Threats they never knew existed could take away all that they care about. And just when these two teens think they know what will come next, Charlotte learns the truth about a secret she has long suspected. What Charlotte finds out changes everything."
The Undesirable was directly inspired by Celi's experiences as a journalist. She was able to take the issues she was reporting in the news, and create a world for her characters by constantly questioning reality. "What would happen if we didn't get enough oil and we ran out of oil? What would happen if economic situations became so bad that we were politically divided as a country? What would happen if somebody used that as a way to take over the government? It snowballed from there," said Celi. She took current issues, and pushed them to the extreme to invent a futuristic world for her characters.
One of the many aspects of Celi's work that I find fascinating is her devotion to writing inspirational and strong female characters. Unfortunately, many girls grow up encountering somewhat weak and co-dependent female characters in literature and the media. This is an issue Celi refused to perpetuate in her writing. "I don't necessary like that message for young women, so I wanted to write this character and she's not going to be a victim, and she's going to be someone who grows in her situation and becomes stronger and better, and someone that a teen girl can emulate," said Celi. She was also very careful about constructing the romantic relationship between main characters Charlotte and Fostino, and wanted to make sure their relationship was also creating a positive message for young adult readers. "I just don't like that message that if you don't have a boyfriend, you should collapse. And that you can't be anybody unless you're with your man," said Celi.
The digital age has revolutionized the way we receive and experience our art, and the publishing world is no exception to this. Due to the availability of digital formats, Celi was able to bypass the traditional publishing route. "I think that spurred me on to write this. Publishing has totally changed, and in some ways for the better from an author perspective because now you can reach readers, and that's what you wanted to do." Celi firmly believes that there is no better time to be a writer than now because of the abundance of opportunities available to have your work out there for readers to consume. Although she has an appreciation for self-publishing electronically, she is still open to creating stories for the world of traditional publishing.
Not too long ago, Celi was another Ft. Thomas resident dreaming of creating stories. Her advice to aspiring writers is simple: keep writing. "Just keep writing. If it's in your heart, and that's what you want to do, don't be afraid and just do it. There's so many opportunities now and so much out there. It is changing, and in a lot of ways it is changing for the better for writers. It's a matter of just buckling down and committing to it." According to Celi, her time at Highlands High School helped prepare her for writing endeavors. "The education that I got at Highlands and at Ft. Thomas schools was definitely helpful. That was a great start to me feeling like I could do things and being better prepared. A lot of people have said to me, 'There's no way I could ever write a book. It's so long, so daunting.' But at Highlands, you're writing papers that are twelve pages as a senior. That kind of stuff was just normal. It's not that big of a leap if you're used to doing that kind of work," said Celi.
Next time you drive along South Grand Avenue, are out exercising on the street, or visiting one of South Grand's resident's, keep in mind that it was also home to a talented writer. You can purchase The Undesirable on Amazon. Also, you can follow the latest news about the book on Twitter and Facebook. Celi is currently writing on the The Undesirable's sequel, The Resistance.