i wish book cover

Sometimes dreams can take years, even decades, to come true.

That was the case with Susan Tatby, a Sioux City native now living in an Omaha suburb.

As a third grader, she'd read books like Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo" and Victor Hugo's "Les Misérables" while writing her own poems, short stories and novels.

"I wanted to be a writer and I also devoured every book I could get my hands on," Tatby remembered.

As she grew up, Tatby's literary dreams went on the back burner and she chose to focus on her career and raising a family.

It wasn't until her daughter Leila fell in love with J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" that Tatby's creativity was sparked once again.

"Leila's first grade teacher read the book in class and Leila was immediately hooked," Tatby said. "I promised Leila I'd read her the second book in the series and, then, we were both hooked on Harry Potter."

By the time the fifth book ("Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix") was released, she and Leila decided to collaborate on a novel of their own.

The result was "I Wish," a 2014 young adult novel that follows strong-willed 16-year-old Kenza Atlas, who meets a tattooed genie, time-travels back 500 years to Morocco, and eventually battles a tyrant named Mazin.

"In addition to the more fantastical parts of the story, 'I Wish' touches upon romance, blended families and growing up in the Midwest," Tatby said of the book that is initially set in Omaha.

Tatby, who writes under the pen name E.B. Tatby, said her daughter's involvement was invaluable when it came to creating dialogue in the teen-heavy novel.

"Teenagers have a vocabulary all their own," she said. "Leila made sure the characters sounded the way they should sound."

Still, the book ended up taking more than a decade to complete.

"'I Wish' really began taking off after an editor read through the book about two or three years ago," Tatby said.

Since the book was released in May, Tatby said she's been pleased with its reception.

"I geared 'I Wish' towards teenaged girls but teenaged boys seem to like it just as much," she said. "I've even heard from a 74-year-old man who loved reading it."

Inspired by the success, Tatby said "I Wish" is simply the first part of a four-part series of Kenza Atlas books.

"The first book was a real learning experience," she said. "I'm sure the next three books will go a lot smoother."

Creating a name for herself in the crowded young adult fiction field will be the next hurdle facing Tatby, though she's already a fan of several of the genre's best-known books.

"I fell in love with (Suzanne Collins') 'The Hunger Games' and (Veronica Roth's) 'Divergent' long before they became popular," she said. "Personally, I think the demand for (similar) post-apocalyptic books is starting to end while demand for fantasy novels like 'I Wish' will be heating up again."

To spur that interest, Tatby will continue to promote her novel through a series of book signings. She will be signing copies of "I Wish" from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 1 at a holiday fair at St. Boniface Catholic Church, 705 West Fifth St. in Sioux City.

"I started 'I Wish' when Leila was 8 years old and, now, she's a college student," Tatby noted. "That's a long time."

With this experience under her belt, Tatby said she'd like to help other aspiring novelists.

"There are so many undiscovered writers out there," she said. "My advice for aspiring novelists is to follow their dreams. They never go away."


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