Caribou teen wins national award for debut novel

Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 9:21 PM EDT
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CARIBOU, Maine (WAGM) - A 15-year-old from Caribou was the recent recipient of a national award for her first novel.

Maggie Bell, a ninth grader at Caribou High School, recently won a prestigious national award for her debut novel, Coffee Gets Cold Quick. Maggie’s novel was the winner of the Young Author category in the 2023 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Maggie was shocked and thrilled when she received the notifying email. She says, “I was absolutely shocked. I had not expected to even be on the list, so it was really, like, it was sort of, like, I wasn’t really processing it, and then we started getting more emails, and I was ecstatic about it. It was crazy.”

The novel is a piece of historical fiction written in verse about the life of a young girl, Emma Clark. Set in the early 1900s, the novel follows protagonist Emma from ages 8 to 21 as she copes with coming of age, grief and loneliness. Written in verse, the novel was inspired by a poetry writing prompt. Maggie says, “Originally, I wrote one poem by the same title, Coffee Gets Cold Quick, off of a writing prompt, and then I just got so into this character that I’d come up with that I decided I just wanted to keep working with that character. And I sort of just kept writing poems but then my mom finally said ‘you need to actually work on this, you need to get this out there.’”

Maggie says she felt the novel-in-verse form was the best way for her to express her main character, Emma: “I’ve always loved writing poetry and I found that for this particular story and character, just the poetry made it simpler, made it easier just to form it, and it didn’t take away from the story with too many words.”

Maggie’s previous writing experience was focused on short stories and poems, but she has already started her next novel. Branching away from the historical fiction genre, her new book will be a dystopian novel-in-verse. Although she is busy with school and extra-curriculars, she will continue to prioritize her writing due to her love for poetry.

Coffee Gets Cold Quick currently available at Neighborhood Books in PI, Brambleberry Market in Caribou, and on Amazon. To quote the judge of her award, “This young author is someone to watch.”