Thirteen-Year-Old Author Flies High

Publisher's Weekly interviews Nancy Yi Fan, the 13-year-old Chinese-American author of a forthcoming fantasy novel about tribes of warring birds called Swordbird (HarperCollins, February 2007). Born in Beijing in 1993, Yi Fan moved to New York with her parents when she was seven years old. After learning about the events of 9/11, she had a vivid dream about birds at war. The next day she started writing Swordbird, and eventually e-mailed the manuscript to Jane Friedman, HarperCollins' chief executive, from Hainan Island in China.

If Yi Fan's success at such a tender age seems daunting to you, consider this writer who submitted to the slushpile at the ripe age of 74. Even then she couldn't be rushed, crafting her novels meticulously at the staid pace of one sentence per hour. But that's the beauty of storytelling: age, race, geography, and caste no bar. You don't even need literacy to mesmerize listeners with the power of a tale well told.