Local teen publishes novel about bullying

Aneeka Ayyar, Staff Reporter

When he was 10 years old, Brett Brown decided that he wanted to write a book. Now, at only seventeen, he has already published his first novel, “Haley’s Comet,” a story about bullying, growing up, and finding yourself, all while trying to stop aliens from taking over the world.

“As young adults, there are too many things in the world that are depressing,” said Brown. “I wanted to write about something that would make kids feel good about themselves.”

The plot of the novel revolves around a twelve year old girl, Haley, who struggles with making friends, moving to a new neighborhood, and bullying, while also dealing with an alien takeover. The story, aimed at kids from 12 to 14 years old, is meant to give a positive message about how you can overcome any struggle.

The novel, published through 220 Publishing, is based on Brown’s personal experiences of being bullied in middle school. Raised in Chicago, Brown eventually moved to Lakewood, OH, a theme reflected early on in the book.

Brown first began work on “Haley’s Comet” in seventh grade. It was a 63-page story that his English teacher didn’t like. Still, the rejection only spurred him on, and he ended up adding another 200 pages to the text.

The title came from Brown’s seventh grade science class. He first thought of writing a space-themed story, but he thought it might be too cliche, so he chose aliens instead.

Brown’s origins in writing come from his mother’s constant push. According to Brown, when he did something wrong, instead of taking away his TV privileges, his mother would punish him by making him write it down.

Brown did most of his writing for “Haley’s Comet” in the library during Cleveland’s chilly January months. When he was finished, he began the long journey towards publication.

Brown wrote to many publishers asking them to look at his book. More than a year later, he heard back from one publisher who offered him a cash advance, but wanted him to give up the rights to his book.

“My mother and I wanted a company that would give me the rights to my book,” said Brown. “It was something that I created out of my mind.”

Eventually, they settled on the Chicago-based 220 Publishing, who did not offer him a cash advance but did give him full rights to the book.

“I was so thankful that it finally happened,” said Brown.

The novel has received a lot of encouraging feedback, with people enjoying its positive message. Brown says that he got some attention for it in middle school, but now, as a senior in high school, he hears a lot about the book.

“I’m really very modest about it,” he said with a chuckle.

Brown doesn’t plan on writing a sequel to “Haley’s Comet,” but he does want to pursue other projects. He plans on attending the University of Michigan, majoring in architecture and animation.