Sharjah: British writer Bella-Jay Dark, who published her first book at the age of five last year to become the Guinness World Record holder for being the youngest female author, took her first trip outside the UK to take part at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival.
“Everyone wants to sit next to me in class now after my teacher hung a newspaper article about me on the noticeboard. So that’s one thing that’s definitely changed since I became an author, but I am not stopping here. I just want to keep writing and writing,” said Bella-Jay, who is now working on a third book after publishing her second Snowy’s Birthday Party earlier this year, also based on her own cats Ginger and her mum Minnie, like her first book The Lost Cat.
“I am glad some of my friends have started writing after seeing me. That motivates me to write more and more,” she added when asked how she was handling her newfound celebrity status. “My sister doesn’t really care [about my celebrity status] but that’s fine.”
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It was the young writer’s first time on an airplane after leaving her home in the seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset with her dad Myles, mum Chelsie and nine-year-old sister Lacie to be at the 12-day festival being held Expo Centre Sharjah until May 14.
“It was the most exciting thing for me, and I love this place so much that I want to come back again with my new book,” said the math and reading enthusiast, who is now looking to become the youngest female author to publish a ‘series of books’ after selling more than 2,000 copies of her debut book for her first official world record.
According to Bella-Jay’s dad Myles Dark, her second book now needs to sell 1,000 copies to surpass the official current record for the youngest author of a book series.
“We have sold around 600 so far and would love to grab that record before she turns seven this July,” said the father-of two, who works as a builder. “We went to a book fair one day and someone there said they wanted to publish her book and it all began from there. She came back and wrote and sketched the entire book in about a few hours.”
Lessons for readers
Talking about the life lessons her books deliver, Bella-Jay said: “The latest one teaches friendship is the most important thing. The first book was about not venturing out alone as you can get lost,” reminded the six-year-old with clear reading and watching choices. “I read Diary of a Wimpy Kid Potter. Maleficent is scary because I don’t like witches,” Bella said when asked how she spends her time in between studies and play.
Bella-Jay’s short allegorical work also features her drawings – based on her cats and life around her. Her third book called Snowy and the Lily Pad Frog is expected to be released later this year. “But that’s all I can say about it at the moment,” she said.