Photo by Peter Julian
In middle school, Louise Faitar ’23 and her friends founded the “New Lands Club,” a forum for discussing the various islands around the world they most wanted to visit. Early favorites included the aptly-named Kangaroo Island, located off the southern coast of Australia, and the U.S. territory American Samoa. On a less exotic note, everyone also wanted to visit Hawaii.
The talk of distant places piqued Faitar’s adolescent imagination. What if there were an island that didn’t exist on any maps? And what if that secret island was populated by an organism similar to humans, but not quite human?
“It was a long-shot and it didn’t make a lot of sense in the beginning, but as I thought about this more and more, a whole story developed,” recalled Faitar. “And then after I started writing, I just couldn’t stop.”
Seven years later, Faitar’s long-shot idea became a 471-page book, available for purchase on Amazon. The Evanescence of Fog, which Faitar self-published in July, tells the story of a distant island nation invaded by an army of genetically-modified wolverines. While under siege, the island’s king turns to an unlikely cast of characters for help, including a 10-year-old girl, a pygmy unicorn, and a mentally-unstable musical genius.
While categorized as science fiction fantasy, The Evanescence of Fog is also loosely autobiographical. Half of the book takes place in Williamsville, New York, where Faitar grew up, and features a band of (human) middle school protagonists.
“The two halves come together in an interesting way,” said Faitar. “There’s a connection between what’s going on in New York and what’s happening in the Pacific Ocean.”
Faitar, a neuroscience major at Boston College, has been writing since elementary school, when she began penning poems as a way to improve her English (her family spoke Romanian at home). A voracious reader, she took inspiration from the often-dark children’s books in A Series of Unfortunate Events and later, Harry Potter. In high school, she sped through the required texts with an author’s critical eye.
“I would read things and think, ‘OK, I really enjoyed this book, but if I were writing it, I would do things differently,’” she recalled. “I really wanted to write the kind of book I would enjoy as a reader.”
Faitar began rewriting The Evanescence of Fog a few years ago, elevating her middle school concept and preparing it for publication. When COVID-19 forced college students to return home this spring, she doubled down on her efforts. Receiving the first bound copies of her book this summer was “surreal,” she said.
“I still can’t believe I was able to follow through and do this,” she said. “Some people told me the idea was too crazy or that I was too young to be writing, but others told me,‘I really like the style and how you write,’ and those were the moments that kept me going, even when I didn’t really know where the story was going.”
At Boston College, Faitar is able to combine her love of literature with her interest in science. Originally a biology major, Faitar switched to neuroscience after losing a close friend to mental illness last year.
“It put things into perspective,” she said. “There are people struggling out there who, because of the stigma around it, are not able to get the help they need. Hopefully I can help in the future.”
Alongside her pre-med classes, Faitar is continuing her hobbies (she plays slide guitar and violin and practices Isshin-Ryu style karate) and taking full advantage of BC’s liberal arts offerings, stretching her creative muscles in modernist and medieval literature courses. So far, none of her texts have been set on a secret island, but they have exposed her to new genres and styles of writing.
“I didn’t read a lot of Virginia Woolf in high school, and I definitely didn’t read Djuna Barnes, so that was a new experience,” she said. “It gave me some ideas about what I’d like to write in the future.”
Alix Hackett | University Communications | November 2020