Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Awesome Aaliyah - Jamaican 11-year-old making waves in England with her first novel

Published:Sunday | June 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis
Aaliyah Neil

Aaliyah Neil loves to read, and at 11 years old she has already read more than 100 books, and to cap it, has written a book, which has already been published.

Aaliyah, who lives in England with her Jamaican parents, released a crime fiction novel last month and told The Sunday Gleaner that it was inspired by her mother's love for television crime series.

Now that the book is on shelves, Aaliyah is overjoyed.

"It's a good feeling, and it makes me really excited to know that everyone will be able to see my book," said Aaliyah.

"All the people that I see, and all the people that I read about, inspired me to write this book," added Aaliyah.

The novel, which is titled Simon Dovers, is about a 13-year-old boy who, after stumbling across his neighbour's body, found himself engulfed in a murder mystery.

Aaliyah parents, who are from Runaway Bay in St Ann, migrated to England 10 years ago. Her father, Utestus, is an engineer who attended the University of Technology and what was then the Caribbean Maritime Institute, while her mother, Radine, is a trained math teacher.

Utestus says his daughter did all the research for the book, which took her just six months to complete. "It just shows her sheer strength and determination," said Utestus Neil.

Aaliyah has a number of book signings lined up for the summer, and she said the sale of the book has been going well.

She has already been featured on the British Broadcasting Corporation Nottingham, on Mix 96, in the Nottingham Evening Post and Bucks Herald.

Aaliyah is a grade-seven student at Aylesbury Vale Academy and is yet to decide on a career path, but she is confident that whatever she chooses, she will continue to write.

"I'm planning on writing another book, but I'm not going to give away too many details about the book. I would love to be an author, because I would like to continue what I am doing now, until I am older."

Aaliyah remains in touch with her Jamaican roots and often travels to the island to visit her grandmother, pastor Felix Neil, and other family members in Alexandria, St Ann.

"I love Jamaica. It's a really nice place," declared Aaliyah, whose book can be purchased online at Amazon or from British retailer Waterstones.

carlene.davis@gleanerjm.com