At just 11-years-old Ashleen Khela (Young Author) has had her first book published.
Her book was officially launched by her very proud school principal Grant Rimmer at Kenthurst Public School recently.
Not only did the Year 6 student write the appropriately titled, 17 Stories but she did all the illustrations and raised the money herself to have the book published.
She worked hard over two years to raise funds to cover the $1200 cost associated with publication.
Ashleen collected used drink cans, plastic and glass bottles which she took to recycling stations. She also planted yucca, mango, guava and jacaranda trees in her backyard during covid lockdown and sold those.
To make up the final amount she broke open her piggy bank.
All proceeds from the sale of 17 Stories will be donated to the Cancer Council Australia, Starlight Kids Foundation as well as contribute towards the underprivileged kids of India and other developing nations.
When the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News spoke to Ashleen about her book she had already started her second book of fiction.
“My goal is to write a book every year, “ she said.
Ashleen was 8 when she discovered her love of writing and then COVID came restricting everyone’s movements.
“I was so bored, I started drawing and then I started writing. I am best at writing fiction but I like mixing my real life experiences into my fiction.”
One of the inspirations for the stories in her book came from a visit she made to India to see her grandparents who gave her fruit to give underprivileged children by the roadside. It showed her that in some parts of the world such as rural Punjabi, a single banana is a big treat and there are huge social disparities in the world.
Some stories, such as “Zombie Virus Diary Entry”, capture her personal experiences being confined to home during the Covid lockdown, ‘’Elisa and Josephine” as a poignant tale illustrating the contrast in lifestyles between kids in developed and developing nations.
Ashleen wants to become a doctor when she grows up but wants to keep on writing on the side. ”I want to help people, and save lives,” she tells the Hills to Hakwesbury magazine.
She loves reading to her younger sister aged 7 and brother aged 5 who she says have heard some of her simpler stories.
The book has been published by Autumn Art Publisher, Patiala in India and Ashleen said she couldn’t wait to see the final product.
“I was over the moon when I finally saw it.” Federal education Minister Jason Clare was one of the first to congratulate her on her mammoth effort.
Ashleen is one of the youngest published authors in Australia and the youngest in NSW.
She has donated several copies to the school library at Kenthurst Public School.
To find out more about Ashleen or order one ofer books ($25) visit her website www.ashleenkhela.com