Seven-year-old Michelle Nkamankeng of Kensington in Johannesburg has established herself in the global literary world by becoming the youngest author in South Africa and Africa to make the world's top 10 list of youngest writers.
Her recently launched first book, Waiting for the Waves, was inspired by a family visit to a seaside resort when she was five. It's the first of a four-part series.
The young author, a pupil at Sacred Heart College in Observatory, Johannesburg, has been ardently supported in her book-writing ventures by her mother and manager, Laurentine (Lolo) Nkamankeng, father Paul Nkamankeng, and siblings Shawn, Sheena and Marion.
Speaking about her book, the lively author said, "I feel happy, excited and very proud of myself. I loved reading from the age of four. Writing is fun to me and I love writing in my spare time."
According to Michelle, Waiting for the Waves is about a little girl named Titi who is having fun with her family at a beach resort but is also struggling with a great fear of the waves. However, with the support of her family she succeeds in conquering her fear and enjoying the beauty of nature.
Speaking about her writing abilities, Michelle says that she's gained much insight and inspiration from living in Johannesburg. She loves Gauteng and the opportunities this thriving province have afforded her. Michelle's achievements have only heightened her enthusiasm for fun, and she has a few favourite places in Gauteng that she enjoys. "I love visiting Gold Reef City and other beautiful play resorts in Gauteng. I also enjoy watching theatre and movies," she says.
Says Laurentine: "I believe Gauteng helped shape her independent and courageous personality, which has become the trademark of her writings."
"I have lived in Gauteng for many years and still love living in Gauteng, especially Johannesburg. The vibrant and fast-paced life is full of opportunities, and Johannesburg, in particular, suits my lifestyle," she says.
Michelle has just completed writing the fourth book in the series, The Golden Ring. Her first two books, Waiting for the Waves and The Little Girl Who Believes in Herself, were completed when she was just six years old. Her third book, The Little Mouse, was completed recently. However, due to financial constraints only the first book has been published to date.
Laurentine had to get creative to publish her daughter's book. She was forced to learn how to publish a book and ended up creating a publishing company, LANSM Publishing Ltd, in the process. It took her publishing team about two months to complete the editing, illustrations, eBook production and final printing of the book.
"I hope we can generate enough funds from my first book to publish the other three books in the series," says an optimistic Michelle.
Michelle's parents are adamant about maintaining a healthy balance in her life, despite all the attention she's received since the launch of her book. Michelle loves playing with her friends and siblings, doing ballet and gymnastics, playing musical instruments, and swimming. She also enjoys watching kids' shows on TV and movies.
Laurentine says that the past few months have been both exciting and inspiring as she's watched her daughter achieve her dream.
"I have also learnt a lot the past few months on this journey leading to the publishing of Michelle's first book. The challenge is always to maintain the delicate balance in Michelle's life, given the exposure she is receiving.
"Michelle is an independent and humble girl who loves being her normal self despite the attention, and it is my main role to ensure this is respected," says Laurentine.
Michelle desperately wants to reach disadvantaged readers, especially children who can't afford to buy literature. She hopes to attract sponsors who will be willing to buy her books and facilitate free distribution to children and adults from these communities. She wants to help open up the world of reading to them.
Her advice to other aspiring young writers is, "Do not be afraid to go for your dream. Do not give up, even if you make many mistakes or face obstacles."
- To order your copy of Waiting for the Waves, contact Laurentine on +27 (0)82 688 6172. It is hoped the book will be available on Amazon from 15 October2016