Author at 12

9/26/09  Merrick Life

Eric Vlesmas, a former student of The Progressive School of Long Island located in Merrick, has published a book entitled Spectre Academy.   The 14 year old resident of Lynbrook will read from his book and discuss his writing and publishing process on Thursday, October 1, at 3:30 p.m.  Fittingly, the book discussion will be held at The Progressive School, where Eric’s idea for the book germinated.  The young author notes that at the Progressive School, “there were a lot of electives and you had the freedom to write about what you wanted.”  There, Eric had many teachers who inspired him to write, but he notes two in particular, Lorraine Farron and Ginger Hendler.   The school is known for encouraging students to follow their passions and current and former students include a cellist who plays at Carnegie Hall, the founder of “Pennies for Ponies” that restored Nunley’s Carousel, a former cast member of Broadway’s The Lion King, and a Ford Modeling agency model.  Whether famous or not, every child is encouraged to find what it is they love to do and to do it often.   The Director of The Progressive School of Long Island, Eric Jacobson, notes, “I have seen observed over the years that these elective opportunities at a young age often give students the confidence and desire that helps propel them to great contributions to society later in life”.

Spectre Academy book cover

At the event, in addition to Eric Vlesmas’ talk, he will answer aspiring writers’ or interested participants’ questions and hold a book sale and signing.  Mr. Jacobson will speak briefly about his former student’s writing accomplishment, and Yolanda Vlesmas, Eric’s mother, will offer her perspective on her son’s achievement.

Vlesmas began writing the book when he was 11.  Curiously, his idea for the book took hold when he saw a book cover with a skeleton holding an umbrella amidst a group of children.  When he picked up the book and opened it, it was simply an alphabet book.  Vlesmas was frustrated and decided to write about what he thought that book should have been about.

When asked about the genre of the book, Vlesmas says that Spectre Academy is a horror/tragedy, nevertheless, with a happy ending, which will appeal to readers between x and 12 years of age.    He describes the writing process as fun and is especially proud of the level of detail in his characters, considering that he included so many.  “If I could go back”, Vlesmas admits, “I would have fewer characters because there were so many to keep track of throughout the book.”  Vlesmas also recommends to young writers that if a mistake is made, one has to correct it immediately, otherwise it is very hard to find or correct in the editing process.   This is especially true of plot errors.  Vlesmas speaks from hours of experience.  While he competed the book when he was twelve, it took two more years to edit and publish Spectre Academy.

Spectre Academy is not based on any friends or family from the young author’s life.  It is a product of his creative imagination.  However, Vlesmas notes, his family was very involved and encouraging throughout the writing and editing process.    He attributes the book’s success to his mother, father and grandmother’s support.  Also, Ginger  was very instrumental in guiding the editing process.

During the October 1st reading of a section of the book that Vlesmas feels will introduce young readers and writers to the idea of the book, “without giving away too much”, he will also share many of his writing tips including those involving plot formation and especially how to end a book.  The importance of always carrying a notebook to facilitate the creative process will be discussed as well.

All interested young readers and writers are encouraged to attend the October 1 event at The Progressive School of Long Island, located at 1425 Merrick Avenue, Merrick.  Young adults are encouraged to come with a parent or caregiver.  The Spectre Academy can be purchased at the event, or online at