Local indie author wins award

Published 9:59 pm Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Sarah Newland’s novel “EXTANT” won Virginia Author Project’s YA Fiction Award for 2021. This award is part of the Indie Author’s Project connecting libraries and readers.

This is the fourth year of the Indie Author’s Project. The project partners with 14 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces to review submissions from libraries and literary organizations. The Suffolk Public Library reached out to Newman, and they submitted her first novel for the Young Adult category.

“Winning something for your debut book is rare and to be, historically, the first win for Hampton Roads,” said Newland. “To be considered by librarians for this award and to have the community support behind you is amazing.”

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“EXTANT” is the first book in her young adult fantasy trilogy, “The Coelacanth Project.” The second installment, “Chymist,” was released this past May, with the final book coming in 2022.

This series follows five Virginia teens who, after the disappearance of their parents, are forced to reconcile the secrets of their past with their newfound powers. The books take place across Virginia and feature familiar places like the Chesapeake Bay and the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.

Newland hopes these books will help teens with the transition into adulthood, which can be a very turbulent time in their lives. Her books focus on conquering inner demons, powerful friendships and thinking critically.

“My goal for the series and as a writer is to empower youth to step boldly into the world and be eager to question and learn and explore what’s around them,” said Newland.

As local librarians helped Newland achieve this award, she also encourages aspiring writers to make connections to help with their writing process.

“The biggest thing is to reach out and find a writing community,” she said. “Librarians have a wealth of knowledge and resources to help point you in the right direction.”

To learn more about the series, visit sarahnewlandbooks.com. To learn more about the award and other winners, visit tinyurl.com/ExtantIAP2021.