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Seventeen-year-old Grinnell author makes impressive debut

Britt Kifer’s book “A Silent Voice,” went on sale in December 2021. Copies may also be found in the Grinnell High School library. Photo contributed by Britt Kifer.

For Britt Kifer, writing often served as a coping mechanism. It was an act that brought her comfort during difficult life events and served as an outlet to channel her feelings. But never did she expect for this hobby to turn into a professionally published novel. Kifer, now a 17-year-old Grinnell High School student, recently published her first novel of what she hopes will be many more to come. 

In 2020, Kifer had a small writing assignment for Girl Scouts, which transformed into a much bigger project than anticipated. “It was five pages, then 20, then it was 200,” Kifer said.  

Kifer’s book is called “A Silent Voice” and centers around a man who was recently rendered mute. Though he cannot speak, he communicates in other ways and falls in love with another male character. She sees the book as a “romance thriller” throughout which the characters bond in their attempt to overcome adversity. 

LGBTQ+ representation was an incredibly important theme for Kifer to include in the book. Though she said she knew this might deter some people from reading, Kifer said that her own connection to the LGBTQ+ community was more important to her. 

“A Silent Voice” also grapples with mental illness. Kifer said, “I also wanted to talk about mental health because that’s something that never gets talked about that I think should get talked about more.” 

Kifer worked on the draft during the beginning of the pandemic, when she said she had ample free time. The writing process seemed to flow easily for Kifer, who joked that she was most often writing between 1 and 4 a.m. “I just kind of write. I don’t do a whole lot of planning,” she said.  

The young author also said she likes to try to connect with the characters as she writes about them. “I listen to music based on what’s happening in the book. So if it’s a really intense scene, I’ll normally listen to rock. It just helps me get into the mood of what I’m writing so I can flow through it better.” 

After Kifer finished her first draft within a mere month of starting the project, she began to think about publication. “I knew that I wanted to write, I did not know that I wanted to be an author,” she said. But after encountering a newspaper ad for Dorrance Publishing Company, Inc., Kifer set her sights on making her dreams of writing professionally come to fruition. 

In November 2020, Kifer sent her book to the publishing company, who agreed to work with her. Because they didn’t know she was a minor, the company sent Kifer a long contract to sign. Kifer laughed when she said her mom and dad had to look it over with her.  

Once the contract was finalized, Kifer began a year-long editing process, during which she learned a lot about professional revisions and book formatting.  

“I did work with a really good publishing company and they walked me through everything,” Kifer said. “That was really helpful because I’ve never done this before.” 

Though her mom offered to help pay for the book deal, Kifer insisted on funding it herself. The final cost was $5,200. She has since gotten a job in Grinnell to help with the payments. “I’m really proud of that fact because, you know, most 17-year-olds can’t afford that,” Kifer smiled. 

Finally, after over a year of edits, negotiations and rewrites, Kifer’s book was ready for publication. When she got a box from the publisher in the mail, Kifer was elated.  

“That was the first time I had ever seen it printed, and I was just so happy about it,” Kifer now keeps that first copy in a shadow box in her room to commemorate her accomplishment.  

“When I got the boxes of all my books I was also super happy because it meant I could start getting my name out there,” Kifer added. Part of the deal with the publishing company gave Kifer promotional materials for the book, which she has been excited to distribute.  

“Everyone seems to really like the book so far and they’re super proud of me,” Kifer said. “Several of my friends have bought copies even though I said they didn’t need to … and my mom has been super supportive. I was a little scared for her to read my book at first because it does have some parts in it that you wouldn’t want your mom to read [but] she really likes the story.” 

Since publishing her first book, Kifer has already begun working on two more novels. She encouraged other people to try writing, even if they see it as daunting. “I think if people do want to write books they should just go for it. I was so scared of writing, especially about this topic … but I think if people want to write books they should.” 

Though she faced challenges along the way Kifer said that after over a year of hard work, “I’m really proud of the fact that I did do this.” 

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About the Contributor
Allison Moore
Allison Moore, Staff Writer
Allison is a fourth-year gender, women's, and sexuality studies major from Granville, Ohio. In her spare time, she can be found crafting, cooking, and cuddling with her kitten, Koda. If you think her mini crossword is too hard, then too bad.
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