Submitted photo

The Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department has an after school program, and students submit interviews and stories they conduct during after school class. Talk w/PRK is a monthly exchange between business and community leaders and the JCPRD after school class at Gardner Elementary.
Below is one submission from Kevin Andrews. Andrews is a fourth-grade student at Gardner Elementary. He also attends the JCPRD after school class at Gardner Elementary.

Don’t Wait Start Now, student says
“If you want to be a writer, keep writing, and read all you can, read everything.”
– Stan Lee

This is Kevin Andrews reporting for JCPRD News. Today, I had the privilege of welcoming and interviewing author Melissa Bennett. Bennetthas come to our after-school class at Gardner Elementary, having graciously accepted a request by one of the teachers, Mark Hinojosa, to judge our short story contest and talk to the class about what it’s like to be a writer.
Can you tell us about yourself?
“My name is Melissa Bennett. I am a writer. I currently have published one novel entitled Hidden Thorns. I grew up in Waco, Tex., and consider it my home. My husband and I moved our family here from Houston back in 1998. We love it here – four seasons, and no fire ants! I’m blessed to be a mom of four wonderful mostly grown children, and two “yippy” Miniature Schnauzers.”
Can you tell us about your novel?
“My debut novel, Hidden Thorns, is about a lady named Lillian Edwards.”
From the class one of the kids shouts, “We have two Lillian’s in our class.” Everyone laughs.
“Lillian is a 50 something on her own after a divorce,” Melissa says. “She starts setting up her new life, and finds she’s being stalked. It is a crisis that will test a second chance at love, her friendships, and her faith. It may even cost her life.”
So, what’s it like being a writer?
“I’ve enjoyed writing most of my life. I’ve been writing seriously for about five years. Hidden Thorns was in process for over a year before I even started submitting it to any agents or editors. It was another year before I found my publisher 50/50 Press.”
Any advice you could offer us?
“Well to start off there are a few things I’d tell my younger self about writing if I could. Don’t wait, start now and write often about a variety of subjects. Take classes on creative writing. Remember to open up to other writers and learn from one another. They will become your community. Most of all and most importantly read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from great writers. Read both what you like and what you don’t. Between the two practices, you’ll be off to a great start.”
Bennett then read the short stories submitted by the students. First place and a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card went to Macie Dreher for her story entitled, “The Hillman’s Crazy Christmas.” Second place and a $10 Amazon gift card went to Makenzie Ball for her story entitled, The Break-In.” There was a tie for third between Jayda Bradley who wrote a story entitled, “Why,” and Jenaveve Williams who wrote a story entitled “Donkeycorn.” Jayda received a $5 Target gift card, and Jenaveve received a $5 Barnes and Noble gift card.
Thank you, Melissa, …
For JCPRD News this is Kevin Andrews.
Melissa Bennett’s book Hidden Thorns is available on Amazon. Mr. Mark purchased a copy and is donating it to the Middle School library at Wheatridge.