Author of ’Tribes’, Emily Briggeman, 13, relaxes at her Durban North home with pets Roxy (front) and Chanel (back). Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)
Author of ’Tribes’, Emily Briggeman, 13, relaxes at her Durban North home with pets Roxy (front) and Chanel (back). Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban North teen launches her first novel

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Feb 20, 2021

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Durban - Thirteen-year-old Emily Briggeman from Durban North started to write her book Tribes at the start of lockdown, with no idea that her story would end up being published.

The Reddam House uMhlanga pupil said this week that as the lockdown months continued, she started to play with the idea of publishing the book.

“At first I was just writing, I had the plot worked out and started building up the chapters. I had never written a whole book before, but the more I wrote the more I thought about publishing,” said Emily this week.

Tribes, which she described as a fantasy adventure, also has a little romance and comedy thrown in and is aimed at readers between 9 and 14 years-old.

Emily said the story is set around her main character, Grace Millar, who is 13 years old and thinks she is invisible. But then one note leads Grace on a journey of mystery, self-discovery and a secret world, which changes everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. And as Grace looks for answers about what really happened to her father and questions whether her secret admirer is who he says he is and what her mother is hiding from her, she discovers that her life will never be the same again.

“Grace is in her first year of high school and I have really loved drawing out the characters and creating the story. The last month or so of writing was very intense,” said Emily, who is also in her first year of high school.

Having been home-schooled during her primary school years, Emily was born in Durban but travelled extensively with her parents and younger brother during those years. Although her favourite places to visit are Switzerland and France, her book is set in Canada.

Emily said she enjoyed being creative and loves art, dance, playing the piano and baking.

While her favourite baking recipe is Top Deck Cookies, a recipe she tweaked from her mother, Emily also spends time teaching baking to underprivileged children.

“I really enjoy cooking as a whole and I make a lot of snacks and often make breakfast for the family,” she said, adding her baking masterpiece was an eight-layer unicorn and sunflower cake.

She also enjoys track training and water polo and her mother, Eloise, said the family enjoyed keeping fit together, often going for runs on the promenade and they have competed in the Tinman triathlon.

Eloise said: “Emily is an extremely creative person and always does whatever she sets her mind to.

“As parents, we are very thrilled that she is exploring her passion and ticking off her bucket list already. You only get to live once."

The book was published by Reach Publishers in Durban, with outside editor, Kylie Crichton describing Tribes as “fun and creative”.

One of Emily’s friends, 12-year-old Keira Lourens, said: “I absolutely loved Tribes and just couldn’t put it down until it was finished. As an almost 13-year-old, the storyline kept me captivated. The artwork is amazing and made the story come to life.”

The book is available on Amazon and will be in bookstores from March 1.

The Independent on Saturday

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