LJ Hardwicke Red Watson and the Gifted Lands
LJ Hardwicke of Gilroy has released her first novel, “Red Watson and the Gifted Lands.” Contributed photo

LJ Hardwicke will celebrate the release of her first novel, “Red Watson and the Gifted Lands,” with a book signing event on Jan. 27.

The 14-year-old Gilroy resident said it’s taken a while for this day to come.

“I’ve always loved writing and creating stories, so I was ecstatic once I found out that I could turn my thoughts and feelings into an intricate storyline,” she said. “I had gone through four novel ideas, but they never truly made me feel accomplished or proud. I feared that I would write a story that felt cliché, considering my age and experience.”

But with “Red Watson,” Hardwicke said she found the perfect story that will allow her to grow with the characters in future planned books.

The novel follows 13-year-old Red Watson, who has a power known as a “gift.” Looking to discover her past, she embarks on a quest with family and friends to defeat an evil man blinded with power.

The more than 200-page book is geared toward readers ages 11 to adult.

Hardwicke will be at Barnes & Noble, 6825 Camino Arroyo in Gilroy, on Jan. 27 from noon to 4pm to sign copies of her book.

She said she is inspired by the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, famed author of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” particularly the way his stories “profoundly impact people” by creating relatable characters and situations.

“I love how I can completely immerse myself in a unique world I had put out on paper, and even incorporating my experiences into my work has been an absolute joy,” she said. “The feeling of reading a good book or watching a movie that made you feel different was the ultimate goal.”

Hardwicke, who is planning a trilogy for the series, shared some advice for potential authors.

“If you have a story in your mind and heart that you love and connect with, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to share it with the world,” she said. “Do not limit yourself because of minorities or reluctance; you’ll never discover how far your abilities can stretch. Every great author had to put themselves in the world without a shield; otherwise, they wouldn’t have become the inspiration they knew they could always be.”

“Red Watson and the Gifted Lands” is available at ljhardwicke.com, the Writer’s Republic website, Barnes & Noble Gilroy, Amazon and other online retail stores.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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