At Emory, students are often so busy with their studies and extra-curriculars that time for other projects is a rare pleasure. You’d think that pursuing a Bachelors of Science (BS) in both Chemistry and Biology would leave little time for, well, anything. College junior Michelle Izmaylov, however, pursues both of these degrees while also writing. In fact, a correspondent from Gilt Entertainment recently selected a novel that she published in high school for a three-year media contract, meaning Izmaylov’s story may be produced as a film.
Izmaylov, who humorously refers to herself as an “avid Avatard” (a fan of the television series “Avatar: The Last Airbender”), has always made writing a part of her life, even with her intense love of the sciences. In middle school, she self-published one novel and in high school, she pursued the traditional publishing method with two novels, one of which was selected for a movie contract less than a month ago.
The novel, titled Galaxy Watch, is the first in a trilogy called The Galacteran Legacy. The pages of the novel are filled with the story of a teenage girl who finds a pocket watch. The pocket watch is, in fact, a piece of alien technology that transports the main character to other planets.
Izmaylov was 16 when she wrote the bulk of this novel. Most teenagers struggle with balancing Advanced Placement (AP) classes and their social lives, but on top of those endeavors, Izmaylov was always writing.
“I think the question is, how would I have lived my life if I hadn’t been writing?” Izmaylov said.
Before actually writing Galaxy Watch, she devised a skeletal structure for the piece, focusing on detailing the beginning and the ending of the novel. When she finished writing, she contacted Mercury Publishing House. She had won an award for a short story from them and asked if they would take a look at her newly finished novel, bypassing the usual blind submission process that most beginning writers must experience.
Years after the book’s publication, a correspondent with Gilt Entertainment requested a copy of the book. After the correspondent read the novel, Izmaylov was sent a three-year contract and an advance. The novel will either be made into a movie or a TV series. The screenplay is in its beginning stages and the search is still on for a producer.
As the novel’s author, Izmaylov’s role in the moviemaking process is still unclear. Izmaylov says that when a deviation from the original story is made, she will have some input, but the producer will make the final decisions.
Creating a book that inspired a movie deal was not entirely a one-woman endeavor. Izmaylov credits the endurance and success of her writing to her family. Her parents’ Russian background contributed to the close-knit ties and support that her family offered for her writing. Izmaylov’s mother, in fact, has always encouraged her to “bring what [she could] to the writing world,” and Izmaylov’s sister has always been an eager audience and a guiding force for her work, she said.
Izmaylov’s relationship with writing is so heavily influenced by her sister that the two decided to co-author a book, which Izmaylov says is to be completed in the summer. The idea and process of co-authoring was new for both, but the content was familiar — the novel is a prequel to Galaxy Watch and features two of its characters. Each of the characters has a separate storyline written by an Izmaylov sister. The storylines interact, as well, both complicating and adding depth to the co-authoring experience, Izmaylov said.
According to Izmaylov, her sister’s encouragement and involvement is not the only piece from her life that Izmaylov integrates into her writing. As her majors suggest, Izmaylov also has a longstanding love for the sciences, which is an area from which she can draw inspiration and find writing material.
“Science is an art,” Izmaylov said. “A lot of [my love for science] is how creative nature has been in creating us.”
Izmaylov believes that aspects of science are applicable to the writing process as well. Science needs to be factual, peer-reviewed and revised. Revision, to Izmaylov, is 90 percent of the writing process.
“Drop [a written work] into a drawer and reread it in two weeks,” Izmaylov suggested.
She said that such a process can help to refocus, which can lead to re-envisioning a work. This process can produce results originally unforeseen by the author.
In addition to revising work, Izmaylov says that lately she has been deviating from novels and experimenting with short stories and nonfiction.
“All of the really cool things in the world are real — are nonfiction,” Izmaylov said.
She identifies nonfiction as being where her strength lies.
If you thought Izmaylov would be too busy pursuing a BS in Chemistry and Biology to put out new work, think again. She says that she has been hard at work on her upcoming projects. A couple to keep an eye out for are the co-authored novel with her sister about racing cars, and, of course, the movie based on Galaxy Watch to be released in the not-too-distant future.
— Contact Kaylee Tuggle.