Most junior high students spend summer staying up late and sleeping in. Their goals are more like idol dreams that do not coalesce into reality until they have finished high school or college. But most eighth graders do not aspire to pursue psychiatry. Not at that age. But Lane Kunzie is dedicated. If he sets a goal, then he will work until it is fulfilled.
“All of my kids have bucket lists,” Lane’s mother Sheila Davis-Kunzie says. Her children write out mission statements for the future. “[Writing a novel] was one of Lane’s goals.”
Kunzie was already in the middle of composing another book on the subject of mental health, ‘Frayed,’ about a high school student that becomes involved with drugs until his dying mom helps him get back to himself—240 pages of unfinished material—when the idea for ‘Broken’ came to him. After completing seventh grade and starting his vacation, he began work finishing his book, which he started at the end of Christmas break.
Kunzie, who will be 14 on Sept. 21, received a computer for his birthday last fall. It helped inspire him to begin writing and work on another passion, photography, which helped with the design of his front cover. He also got a camera, and the more he practiced, the better he became.
“Lane loves photography and has a vivid imagination,” his mother says. “He wrote all summer long. Four hours a night typing on his computer. He even took his laptop and wrote in the car on the way to baseball games and to see his sister in Ames. Any travel time in a vehicle, you didn’t hear anything out of him.
“He worked hard. That was a given. He dedicated his summer to it.”
By the end of vacation, ‘Broken’ was finished. Lane edited the manuscript and designed the cover himself. His mother sacrificed one of her vases to the cause. Lane took it upon himself to procure the urn and smash it into shards. Then he took the remnants to his tree house for a photo shoot. The cover shows the boards and broken glass at an angle on the horizon of his yard. It is has the feel of professional graphic design.
“That’s his characteristic,” his mother says. “He pays such close attention to detail.”
Lane, now an eighth grader at Wayne, aspires to become a psychiatrist. The subject matter of his novel reflects his interest in the human psyche. ‘Broken’ is about an unfortunate child—a girl named Alex Barrymore—that withstands abuse at the hands of her alcoholic father.
“I wanted to have a strong association with mental and physical health,” Kunzie says, “and how the girl works her way back.”
He split the 500-page novel into five parts. As he wrote, he would send snippets of ‘Broken’ to his friends Megan Birkland, Jordyn Wilson, Macey Goretska and Caitlyn Pruiett. They workshopped the material, gave him ideas when he got stuck and encouraged him to keep writing.
As an avid reader, Kunzie credits the many nonfiction books he reads as influences on his work. Ancient civilizations fascinate him. He also keeps two psychiatry books by his bedside. On the fiction side, he is a fan of the Harry Potter series.
Now, Kunzie is set to influence others. After seeing information about ‘Broken’ on Facebook, a teacher from Central Decatur, Annie Nickell—whose children attend school at Wayne—has asked him to speak to her students. She sent an email requesting he give details about the writing process, his inspirations and how he designed the manuscript and cover. Nickell wants him to give his speech this fall.
“I’m happy to do it,” Kunzie says. “I feel like I could inspire other kids to write.”
Kunzie’s book can be purchased at www.amazon.com by doing a search for Lane Kunzie. His mother was surprised how fast the publishing company got back to them after submitting the manuscript. She says Lane took pride when his book was published, and credits his success to his tremendous dedication.
Sheila Davis-Kunzie works for Wayne County Hospital. Lane’s grandparents, Garth and Ronda Davis, live right next to the family on old Highway 2. His father, Randy Kunzie, lives in Allerton. He has a sister, Branygon, and a brother, C.D.