Liora McCoy Hopes to Become an 18-Year-Old Novelist


How a young author found her passion for creating fantasy worlds.

Meredith McCalmon, Writer

Many high school students, seniors especially, dread reading books and writing essays for their English classes, seeing it as just another item on a never-ending to-do list. However, to Olathe West senior Liora McCoy, reading and writing are an escape from the stresses of schoolwork and society. 

“Writing… is really fun,” McCoy said. “I feel like I’m in my element when I’m doing it, so sometimes I have to force myself to do other things like schoolwork.”

McCoy is currently working on the first novel in an eight-book fantasy series, and she hopes to have it published before graduating high school.

“I’ve had the idea for like two years, but I hadn’t really solidified it into a story story until the beginning of winter break, and then I started writing it in January,” McCoy said. “…I don’t want to spoil it.” 

Impressively enough, McCoy’s writing expertise was entirely self-taught.

“I haven’t taken any writing classes,” McCoy said. “I feel like writing is almost something that can be learned, but it’s really hard to teach. There was a long time where I would write stuff and hate it, but eventually you kind of find your voice.”

One technique that McCoy sometimes uses is to model the characters after herself.

“If I don’t incorporate at least a little bit of myself into the characters, it can be hard to write them, if I don’t know them and how they would think.”

McCoy has been writing stories since she was a child, but this isn’t her only hobby. She has been a violinist since fifth grade, and music has always been an inspiration for her writing. 

“I always listen to instrumental music when I’m writing a story, so depending on what scene I’m writing, that’s the type of music I’ll listen to,” McCoy said. 

McCoy also draws inspiration from studying the work and styles of other fantasy authors.

“In addition to music, I also read a lot,” McCoy said. “I try to read a lot of fantasy books, not to copy but to see how they did it, and then see how I can create my own story… My main source of inspiration is probably ‘Lord of the Rings’ by Tolkien.”

Writing a novel is a major time commitment, especially for a senior who has plenty to worry about already. McCoy is deliberate about making time to write.

“Sometimes I’ll even wake up at 4 a.m. just to give me time to write before school,” McCoy said. “I usually try to write in the morning before I start my day, and then to end the day I’ll also write.”

Sometimes I’ll even wake up at 4 a.m. just to give me time to write before school. I usually try to write in the morning before I start my day, and then to end the day I’ll also write.

— Liora McCoy

Though waking up at 4 a.m. may seem extreme, writing is a form of stress relief for McCoy, and is an important aspect for her to have a positive day.

“I feel like writing gets things off my mind, even if I’m not writing about a specific emotion,” McCoy said. “Even though I’m not necessarily writing a journal, like what I’m feeling, I feel like I’m getting something out of me when I write.”

McCoy believes anyone can be a writer, and she advises aspiring young authors not to be discouraged with their own writing. 

“Read as much as you want to write, and continue writing even if you don’t like what you’re writing,” McCoy said. “Don’t throw it away if you think it’s bad until you’ve come back to see it with fresh eyes.”

In our digital era especially, McCoy believes that books and authors are essential to keep ourselves connected with the world, and with each other.

“I feel like I’m more connected with the world and the past [when I] hold something physical in my hands and read it,” McCoy said. “Like someone, somewhere, even a long time ago wrote this, and it’s still relevant today. Feelings are universal, no matter what time we’re in.”