Freshman author tops Amazon charts

Freshman Barbara Doyle poses for a profile shot with one of her teen romance books. She is under contract for seven books to date.
Sara Novenstern / Castleton Spartan

In seventh grade, Barbara Doyle entered an online writing competition with a short story she had written, in part hoping her name would be known in public. She soon learned her story would grab more attention than she could imagine, including from famous author Nicholas Sparks.

Doyle won the competition that year and got to go out to lunch with Sparks, who became part of her inspiration to write books – seven books to date.

Doyle wrote one teen romance genre trilogy published last year, she is signed for a second trilogy to be published next year, and has a single novel coming out in January. By the time she was 17-years-old, Doyle was a top selling author on Amazon.

Now she’s a determined freshman at Castleton College where she ironically takes entry-level courses in writing and American literature.

Doyle grew up in Cherry Valley, N.Y, a small town with just under 500 people.

A quiet, very shy child growing up, Doyle had always written short stories. Hyped up on Mountain Dew and often listening to Kenny Chesney’s ‘There goes my life’ or more recently ‘All about that bass’ by Meghan Trainer, she sits in her room closed away from the world and write.

“She is very focused on reading and writing. At 14, Barbara wrote her first novel,” said Dawn Doyle, Barbara’s mother. “She would use her grandmother and brother as guinea pigs in stories she wrote. They were always funny. She is determined and has a real future.”

The ambitious Doyle also wrote for her local newspaper, a column called “Life as a Teenager.”

But Doyle’s life wasn’t without controversy. She said there were a lot of family complications growing up, mostly revolving around her brother.

“I am very close with my older brother. He got kicked out the Army and in small town rumors flew,” Doyle said.

Doyle didnt further explain her brothers release from the Army but according to her mother her success seems to have surpassed these troubles.

“Barbara used to be known as my daughter, and as time passed, I have now become Barbara’s mother,” Dawn said.

So where does the writing talent come from?

“My dad used to write my mom and I poems. I tried writing poems, but realized I wasn’t very good, so I tried writing songs, thinking I would be a pop star someday, but discovered I sound like a tone-deaf walrus when I sing. So I started to write novels and it just escalated from there,” Doyle said.

She has been writing as far back as she can remember. She said she writes for fun, for school, and for numerous short story competitions.

“I’ve tried thinking about what I was good at. It’s only writing,” she said with a squeaky laugh.

But how does she get her topics to write about?

“I was always into paranormal and fiction books. I liked the idea of angels and demons so I wanted to create my own spin off,” she said. “I got into the Hunger Games, so I attempted and my agent really liked it.”

Sarah Davis, Doyle’s agent, resides in Michigan and represents her while she is studying American Literature at Castleton College. She declined to be interviewed, however.

Doyle met Davis through the online writing competition and Davis helped her land a contract with Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing to write seven books, including two trilogies and one single release.

The first trilogy, named the “North Wing” was published in 2013.

The first book of the trilogy, “Engulfed,” is a story about a girl named Ebony Falls, who tries to escape a troubled life with her guardian angel, Nicholas, and they dangerously fall in love.  In “Embraced,” the second novel of the trilogy, Ebony has to choose her fate between the darkness and the light that have been at war for far too long. And “Engraved,” the final novel, is about the final battle between the dark and the light, she said.

The second trilogy, called “Fearless,” comes out starting in early April. The first two books of the series are published and ready to hit the stores. But the third book of the series has yet to be written.

“The first two were fine, but this third one I have no idea where I want to go with it. It has been over a year since I have written last. I have so many ideas. I love twists in books, but I am afraid too many people will be mad at me. There are so many ways I can go with it, but I don’t know which is best,” Doyle said.

The single novel she is contracted for comes out in January and is called “Finding Redemption,” which depicts a young girl who loses her father to the government and wants revenge and to avenge her father’s death.

“I am so used to writing series, which are so stretched out, and this is just one book. It is also dystopian and I’ve never really written science fiction before. It is a really weird experience, but cool at the same time. I would tell you the ending, but that would ruin it,” Doyle said.

After 562 copies sold so far between both e-books and paperbacks, Doyle’s favorite paycheck shows up at her mailbox. Doyle receives royalties around every three months. E-books, which are online copies of the books, sell for $2.99, while regular copies bring $11.99. Doyle receives half of that per copy and also receives 10 copies of each book written for her personal use.

In Nashville, Tenn., a five-day red carpet event called Utopia 2015, awaits Doyle’s appearance after her nominations for Up and coming author and best young adult fantasy awards.  

Being in college may have its challenges, but for a top selling book author it should be easy, right? Not entirely. The writing style Doyle is used to is very different and uses more imagination. In some classes, she said she faces the challenge of learning structured writing, like the kind needed for research papers.

And there’s also the issue of people knowing she’s a published author.

“In high school, no one talked about what I did, and I didn’t talk about it either so no one really cared.  At college, I have professors talking about it all the time. Dr. Robert Wuagneux will talk about my books and use examples in class. It is more attention than I am used to,” Doyle said.

Wuagneux said he has reasons for mentioning her to classmates.

“The value of having someone like Barbara in the class like this is exciting for other people because it is inspirational. She is bright-eyed, she cares about her work, which is very well done and she doesn’t put off her responsibilities as student just because she is an established writer,” said Wuagneux. “Despite her success she is still in college to learn.”

Olivia Frascino, a freshman classmate of Doyle is inspired by her.

“I met her in class one day and we’ve become friends. It is really cool. She is very down to earth. At first I was like ‘wow I’ve done nothing and she is 18 and she has already figured out what she’s good at before everyone else,’” Frascino said.

Roy Vestrich, her Media Writing professor, is also a fan.  

“She is like any other student. But she brings a sense of humor to class, with the ability to talk about her success, but laugh at it too,” he said. “She has a wonderful way to keep things going and keep her craft.”


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