Local teen author connects with African students

Andrew Robinson
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International Day of the Girl Child promotes girls’ right to education

A teenage author from Newfoundland whose first novel was recently published is set to connect today with students at a school in Uganda to help promote the cause of a girl’s right to be educated.

Caighlan Smith was scheduled to chat online today with students at a school in Uganda to help mark International Day of the Girl Child. Her first novel, “Hallow Hour,” was recently published by Boulder Publications.

International Day of the Girl Child recognizes the advancement of opportunities for women, with a particular focus on girls.

For Caighlan Smith, 19, the opportunity to speak with students at a school in Bulera, Uganda, and read from her debut novel, “Hallow Hour,” was something she could not pass up.

Smith, a second-year English student at Memorial University, became involved in the girl child movement in junior high school when her class raised funds to educate girls in Uganda.

Later volunteering as an editor for her high school newspaper, Smith got involved in another effort to raise funds for the same cause.

“Being a young girl at the time, I felt very strongly about it,” she said in explaining her reasons for becoming involved in the girl-child movement. “I live in a privileged place and it was no big deal for me to go to school. I couldn’t imagine that there were girls over in Uganda who went to school and they didn’t have a washroom, because only the boys had a washroom. That kind of thing, I didn’t understand how that could be real.”

Early achievement

Smith will read to the students in Uganda today to offer an example of a girl who has achieved something at a young age — having a book published.

The reading was arranged with help from the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association and its Teachers’ Action for Girls project.

“Hallow Hour” — published by Boulder Publications — is not Smith’s first attempt at writing a novel. She did meet with another publisher about a book she wrote at the age of 14.

“They thought it was pretty good,” said Smith. “They didn’t think I had written it, because I was 14, but then I convinced them I had, and they said they might consider publishing it if I went back and revised it.”

Instead, she moved on to other ideas, eventually leading to “Hallow Hour.” With a story firmly planted in the paranormal world, the book follows sibling phantom hunters tasked with battling powerful demons.

“I’ve always been a big reader,” said Smith. “I love reading fiction and fantasy especially.”

Smith was also raised by a writer. Her mother, Sharon Smith, has worked in film and television as a screenwriter and director.

“Hallow Hour” is part of what Smith hopes will be a series of books marketed towards young adults. The second book is written and ready for editing, and Smith already has an idea in place for book Number 3.


Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers, Boulder Publications

Geographic location: Uganda, Bulera

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