By Mark Ambrogi
Zionsville Community High School sophomore Kate Luke has always been passionate about books.
“A couple of years ago she asked me for this perfume that smelled like old books,” said her mother, Christa Luke. “I thought it was the craziest thing. What girl wants to smell like old books? It was called Paper Passion, and it was $80.”
Christa was told the perfume, packaged in a hollowed-out book, was on back order for months before it was finally canceled. Kate wanted it so her bedroom, not her, would smell like old books. That room includes a large, full bookshelf.
“She likes hardcover when she can get it, and she doesn’t like to get books at the library,” Christa said. “She likes to have her own copy and she likes to be the first one to read it.”
Now, Kate’s bookshelf can include a prominent display of her own young adult romance novel, “Kinda, Sort Of,” co-authored by Rachel Rozet. Kate will hold a book signing from 1 to 3 p.m. March 11 at Black Dogs Books, 115 S. Main St., Zionsville.
Kate moved to Zionsville from Valrico, Fla., near Tampa, last summer after her father, William, an engineer, was promoted to a new position at Duke Energy.
Kate and Rozet, a good friend from Florida, worked on writing the 232-page book for more than two years. Rozet had first approached Kate after writing a chapter.
“She had this basic idea that these two friends are being told to become a couple, so they fake date,” Kate said. “She said, ‘This is the book I wish someone would write.’ So I said, ‘Why don’t we write it?’”
So Kate started making character descriptions and chapter outlines.
“The experience for collaborating on a book was truly life-changing,” Kate said. “It was great to be given advice for writing and to mix our creative minds together. There were obviously challenges in the process, but overall I wouldn’t change anything about it.”
Kate said collaborating had its ups and downs, but it ultimately worked.
“A lot of times we’d have sleep-overs, and we’d spend the entire time writing,” Kate said. “I’d type and write a chapter and then I’d pass it on to her. We would pass it back and forth. If I got stuck, she could continue. If she got writer’s block, I could take over.”
They would often communicate through FaceTime as they wrote.
The original plan was to finish the book before starting their freshman year at Strawberry Crest, an international baccalaureate high school in Dover, Fla. But they couldn’t meet that self-imposed deadline, finally finishing the book last summer.
Kate was determined to find a publisher rather than self-publish.
“To me it meant a lot more if a publisher said, ‘This is really good and we want to spend the money and time to make it a novel,’” Kate said.
After being turned down nine times, The Polyethnic Publishing company agreed to publish the book in December. Polyethnic specializes in publishing different aged authors from around the world.
Christa said the family has always described Kate as relentless. For instance, she decided she wanted to be a vegetarian at age 6, even through her parents aren’t.
“When she sets her mind to something, there is really no changing it,” Christa said. “She’s determined.”
The cover design features a photo by Kate.
Kate is busy working on her next books. She is co-authoring two other books with some authors from the same publishing company. She also is working on solo projects.
MEET KATE LUKE
Born: Turns 16 March 7.
Personal: Participating in ballet, pointe, jazz, hip-hop at Village Dance Studio in Whitestown. Enjoys photography, painting and acting. Performed in Zionsville Community High School’s production of “Oklahoma” in the fall. Has a brother, Ryan, 12.
Favorite Zionsville spot: “I really like Black Dog Books. It was the first place I fell in love with in downtown Zionsville.”
Favorite book: “That’s like asking me what limb I’d like to lose. My favorite series are ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘The Mortal Instruments’ and ‘Percy Jackson.’
Favorite book genre: “I pretty much like them all. The only genre I don’t really like is thriller, because I’m a scaredy-cat.”
Favorite author: John Green, whose book “Paper Towns” is one of her favorite books.
Favorite class: English.
Future plans: “I plan to major in creative writing. I might try to major in something else as a backup. But whenever you look at the back of the books, it always says the author majored in creative writing at this university. So it’s definitely a degree to get if you’re looking to be an author.”