St. Petersburg College graduate Kaylee Stepkoski was never a big reader, and she really didn’t like writing until, as a 16-year-old dual enrollment student at SPC’s Tarpon Springs Campus, she was given an assignment in her Composition I class to rewrite an essay into a story. She had so much fun doing that, she began to feel a desire to write something else. Last month, Stepkoski, now 19, published the second book in her science fiction adventure Ever series, Ever: The Return.
Stepkoski said that though she had been wanting to write something since that assignment, she didn’t know what to write about. Then, the idea for the book series came to her in a dream.
“I had this crazy dream where I was in a museum that was surrounded by military people because there was a being there who was not human,” she said. “I woke up knowing that this was it.”
Stepkoski began work on the first book, Ever, while still a 17-year-old student at SPC. She said her professors were very supportive, with science professors Kelli Stickrath and Mark Peebles offering advice for the science-fiction elements, and her creative writing professor, Ned Johnson, assisting with dialogue.
“My professors are awesome. They care, and they love their jobs,” she said. “Professor Johnson told me to not tell so much and to trust the reader. He helped my writing skyrocket to a whole new level.”
Her psychology professor, David Liebert, also read her work and offered encouragement.
“Dr. Liebert told me that I was doing a good job in portraying the psyche and emotions of characters,” Stepkoski said. “He was really great and helped push me to finish.”
“I saw potential and encouraged her, along with other faculty members,” said Liebert, who, along with Johnson, wrote blurbs to tout the second book. “But from my perspective, I see this as being solely her accomplishment.”
Stepkoski published Ever in the summer of 2019 at age 18. The book sold more than 200 pre-order copies in one day, and Ever: The Return came out came out in September 2020. After graduating from high school and SPC with her Associate Degree in May 2020, Stepkoski is taking a gap year before pursuing a bachelor’s in creative writing from the University of Tampa. After completing an internship with her publisher, Two Penny Publishing, she was offered a position there managing promotions.
“What’s great is that not only do I love writing, I like helping others get their stories out,” she said.
You can see descriptions of the Ever series and purchase books in either paperback or electronic formats at Two Penny’s website.