Pub Club spotlights personal essay collection and first preteen book

James suddenly began having visions of Saint Peter’s Academy and a secret treasure hidden there when attending his father’s funeral. Senior Marissa Secreto documents his journey in her middle-grade fiction novel The Haunting at Saint Peter’s Academy, one of the books Undergraduate Students for Publishing will publish this semester.

Undergraduate Students for Publishing, dubbed Pub Club by students, publishes two student books through a program called the Book Project every semester. Authors of the published manuscripts do not receive any profits from the books. Instead the proceeds go towards a charity of the author’s choosing.

Secreto started writing The Haunting at Saint Peter’s Academy over the summer. It tells the story of a 14-year-old boy named James who attends his father’s funeral. He touches his father’s hand and sees visions of his father attending Saint Peter’s Academy. James feels inclined to attend the school to find a mysterious treasure.

“I knew I wanted to write a ghost story, and it started off a little bit differently in my brain,” Secreto said. “I didn’t realize it was going to be a family narrative at the same time it [was] a ghost story.”

Senior and co-president Jessica Morris said Pub Club members chose Secreto’s novel because it targets children ages 10 to 12. Pub Club has never published a middle-grade novel before.

“A lot of students at Emerson are really passionate about children’s literature and young adult literature, so this is a great opportunity to support a book that kinda fits into this realm,” Morris said.

Senior Emma Grant, co-president of Pub Club, said students’ manuscripts must fall between 50 and 80 pages before submission.

“The executive board of the club and the editors of the books will read every single submitted manuscript, and we’ll discuss them as a group,” Grant said. “[We] discuss things like ‘Do you think we can edit this within the time frame that we’re allowed? How does this fit in with the other work we have published?’”

Once the they narrow submissions down to a final four Pub Club members vote on which two of the four manuscripts to publish. Morris said Pub Club never publishes the same author twice and looks to publish different genres every semester.

“[Pub Club] is definitely interested in something we hadn’t seen before,” Morris said. “Everyone that we had has been very unique.”

Editors begin work on the two manuscripts once the club selects them. Writers then make edits to their books before publication.

Pub Club also chose senior Genna Coleman’s novel Catfish and Other Dead Things. She filled her novel with short essays about her personal struggles with self-love, body-acceptance, and interpersonal relationships. She began writing her novel sophomore year.

“It’s about a lot of [my] interpersonal relationships, and it talks about how I viewed my body,” Coleman said. “Kind of my journey towards self-acceptance and self-love and how it relates to my relationships with friends and specifically my parents.”

Coleman started working on her short essays while attending writing, literature, and publishing non-fiction workshops for her major. She said she never considered publishing a collection of essays until someone brought up the idea in one of her workshops.

“I wrote [Catfish and Other Dead Things] to let people know that they’re not alone because I know I thought I was alone when I was dealing with these issues,” Coleman said. “If I can reach someone and let them know ‘Hey, other people are going through this,’ that would be my main goal.”

The proceeds from The Haunting at Saint Peter’s Academy will go to the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Redmond, Washington.

“I volunteered there all throughout high school,” Secreto said. “It’s [a] really cool organization where people with mental and physical disabilities can come to learn how to ride a horse. It’s very volunteer
driven.”

Coleman chose the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as her charity.

“In the past I have dealt with a few suicidal thoughts,” Coleman said. “One of my essays does deal with the topic of suicide quite heavily, and I felt that it was a good organization to give to especially for young people that are really struggling with themselves and their identities.”

The Book Project’s launch will take place Dec. 10 in the Bill Bordy Theater. The launch will include free food and a photo booth.

Coleman said she appreciates the Book Project because it allows students to show something solid to employers before they graduate.

“It’s really cool to see the books in physical bound copies, and it just has your name on them,” Secreto said. “This is specifically your work, and you’re published side-by-side with another author.”

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