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Freshman's story takes top prize in contest

Her tale follows a man — who wields a stick as a sword and rides a wooden horse — in search of his favorite librarian.

November 17, 2011|By Joanna Clay
  • Aviva Meyers, a freshman at Laguna Beach High School, recently won first prize in the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation's 2011 fiction-writing contest for teenagers.
Aviva Meyers, a freshman at Laguna Beach High School,… (Don Leach, Daily…)

While some teens aspire to get a good grade on a test or make varsity, Aviva Meyers has a bigger goal in mind: novelist.

"With some poetry in there too," she said.

The award-winning writer is hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

Aviva, a freshman at Laguna Beach High School, recently won first place in Newport Beach Public Library's teen fiction writing contest for her short story, "An Askew Point of View."

The 14-year-old remembers dictating stories to her babysitter when she was 4, and she's humble — almost embarrassed — when confessing that she's started 60 books.

"I've never actually finished one," she said. "It's harder than it seems."

We believe her.

Her short story chronicles the day in the life of Sir Nigel, a mentally ill man who believes he is a knight and becomes distraught when he finds out that his favorite librarian has been fired. Aviva develops the character quickly in the 12-page story, illustrating a man's childlike qualities and the perspective he brings to tackling life's problems.

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Although Aviva admits Sir Nigel was probably inspired by a multitude of sources, she does recall one day that stuck with her.

"I was walking downtown in front of Laguna Beach Public Library, and there was this [homeless] woman talking to herself — talking really eloquently, old fashioned English," she said. "It made me think they're more than what we think."

She also thought of her own youth. As a child, she thought she understood it all, she said.

She also illustrates a child's curiosity and the willingness to innocently trust, a quality that unfortunately tarnishes with age. She shows this in the other librarians' actions; some look at Sir Nigel as a nuisance while others appreciate his presence.

In the story, a child follows Sir Nigel on his quest to find his librarian, Lady Melanie, because she is fascinated by the mystery of the missing librarian. She bonds with the man who uses a stick for a sword and rides a wooden horse.

Aviva wants her story to show that "just in general, things aren't always as they seem."

"Obviously you can't take his entire point of view," she said of her main character. "He oversimplifies things. Sometimes, as humans, we over-complicate things."

Maybe a simpler outlook every once in a while, similar to Sir Nigel's, isn't a bad idea, she said.

As for her 60 books, Aviva said she will get back to writing. It's just hard with school and social activities, she said. The freshman studies three foreign languages — Spanish, French and Mandarian — and enjoys learning about international politics as a member of Model United Nations.

As for her $250 prize from Newport Beach Public Library, Aviva said she's saving it for college, where she plans to study creative writing.

Go to nbplfoundation.org to read "An Askew Point of View."

joanna.clay@latimes.com

Twitter: @joannaclay

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