Ardrey Kell student debuts science fiction novel

 By Courtney Schultz

Fifteen-year-old Andrew Daly, of Charlotte, hopes readers will embark into a new world in his science fiction,fantasy novel “Portal of Vaal.”

The Ardrey Kell High School rising junior recently debuted his first novel this year, inspired by his adventure splaying Minecraft, an “open world”independent video game where players build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D world. Andrew has always been interested in writing so trying hishand at a novel based on his hobby seemed only natural.

“I usually liked writing in elementary and later middle school,” he said.Andrew mostly wrote fan fiction about the activities within a Minecraft community server he played on and its characters.

The rising junior continued to write his fan fiction and placed his writings on the server and was encouraged to create a full-length story. He initially wrote“Portal” as a short story in 2011, when he was 12 years old, and ultimately decided to turn it into a novel.

Andrew’s book takes readers to “the far-off land of Vaalbara,” where a young hero awakens with no memory and embodies a new identity, soon learning he must save Vaalbara from the “Dark Ones.” Throughout his journey, he befriends other allies in an effort to destroy his enemies and bring peace to the land.

The 15-year-old said the book took significant research and discussions with copyeditors to complete the final

Over the years of writing the book, Andrew said he experienced “writer’s block,” citing one summer where he couldn’t contribute a single sentence to the book. His commitment to balancing community service and schoolwork also challenged the book’s completion, but despite the obstacles, Andrew didn’t
give up.

Andrew also self-published the book, which presented challenges for the author, such as frequently editing the
book and sending the revisions to

The book is geared toward readers 10 to 16 years old, but Andrew has heard reviews from readers who range from 8
to 40 years old.

Most of the feedback has been positive, he added. He even visited an elementary school for a question-andanswer session and book signing with
rave reviews.

Andrew said booklovers could relate to lessons learned through the novel, such as the bonds of friendship and the power of determination over adversity. “Throughout the journey, (the protagonist) has to go through tough challenges … some challenges he can’t overcome on his own even if he wants,”
Andrew said.

Throughout the writing and publishing process, the author discovered he’s more creative than he originally thought and plans to continue to writing with the encouragement of the Charlotte Writer’s Club – an organization developed to inspire and support writers of
all forms.

“Personally, the part I like about writing is the creative aspect,” he said. “You can create your own world and write
your own stories.”

The 15-year-old said readers can expect a direct squeal to “Portal” in the near future, but he said the book is still
in the planning stage.

When the Ardrey Kell student isn’t writing or researching Minecraft, he can be found outdoors running, skiing or kayaking, which he says has helped
his creativity.

“Being in nature opens up creativity in a whole new way, in ways that I can’t explain in words,” he said. The book is available in paperback or for Kindles at Visit for more information.

Author Spotlight: Portal of Vaal by Andrew Daly

Renee Scatts


Today I’m featuring Andrew Daly, a new author to my blog, and a young one too! I think it’s so awesome when young people write and publish their own work. It’s a lot of work for an adult, so it makes it that much more impressive when they are so driven at a young age to put in the effort it takes. Young authors deserve all the support they can get!

Andrew will be sharing an excerpt from his book, Portal of Vaal, but first let’s hear more about him:

Andrew Daly is a 16-year-old author of middle grade/young adult fantasy stories. Portal of Vaal is based loosely around his adventures within a Minecraft community server, and more specifically, the people inhabiting it. Andrew currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his parents and dog Swiffer. He enjoys writing, reading, playing video games, Netflix binge-watching, and zip lining. He started writing Portal of Vaal at age 12 as a short story that culminated into a novel.

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