Cazenovia Christie Brenneck didn’t know that that her student, Cazenovia senior Delanie Spangler, was writing a novel until the finished product, cover and all, was placed in her hands.
“She came to my room after Christmas break and told me she had something for me; I thought it was a senior picture, but she handed me a book. When I realized that she wrote it, I flipped through it and saw that she dedicated it to me. It was a huge honor,” Brenneck said.
The novel, entitled “Caged Birds,” was not written for an assignment but began simply as a hobby shared by Spangler and her friend Morgan Croft. Although they often created stories together, only one of them became fully realized as a novel.
“We made other stories and we kind of got bored with them, or they didn't make sense, or there were plot holes. I thought this one had potential,” Spangler said. “[Croft] made some characters, I made some characters and we wrote the plot line together and just went with it.”
Spangler brought these ideas to paper over the next two years and completed the novel late in 2012.
“Caged Birds” is the story of Shayra, a fifteen-year-old servant girl, and a princess whom she hates but grows to revere as they run away from the palace they both called home. The novel takes place in the fantastical world of Grasoul, a land of magic, kings and castles. Spangler compared the setting to J.R.R. Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings.”
Once the novel was finished, Spangler’s mother, who had been reading the story as it was written, suggested that the girls get the work published.
Spangler used an online self-publishing service to produce the first 125 copies of “Caged Birds.” She supplied the service with an electronic copy of her manuscript and the cover she created herself for the novel. The cover features a scythe on a background of fire. Both the scythe and the fire are symbolic of the novel’s main character.