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Shane Mercer, Published November 22 2013

20-year-old from rural ND publishes fourth novel

SHELDON, N.D. - Mattie Richardson wrote her first novel at the tender age of 13. But that was just the beginning for a young woman who says she loves “creating stories.”

Mattie, whose family lives near Sheldon, turned 20 in October, and the month before leaving her teen years, she published her fourth novel, “Blackberry Blossom.”

The novel follows Molly, a 16-year-old girl who leaves her family farm after the Dust Bowl hits and tries to make a living with her fiddle. A boy also makes his way into the story.

“It’s kind of a love story, but not strictly a love story,” Mattie said.

Molly’s free life on the open road is one that appeals to Mattie, who is studying at Cottey College in Nevada, Mo.

“It’s something that I would love to do if I could,” she said.

“Blackberry Blossom” is a departure from her earlier works. It’s her first teen/young adult fiction. The first three are more for younger readers.

Like “Blackberry Blossom,” Mattie’s other books – “Appaloosy,” “Dusty’s Trail” and “Golden Sunrise” – are historical fiction.

“I love history,” said Mattie, who is one of eight siblings.

Her mother, Nina Richardson, said Mattie is the one who’s made the books a reality.

“It’s been her own endeavor,” Nina said. “She made it happen herself.”

Mattie said she worked on her first book for “an entire summer” at Dairy Queen to get enough money to publish “Appaloosy.”

She wrote it when she was 13, and published it when she was 16.

Mattie was home-schooled for most of her childhood, and Nina said her daughter “just devoured books.” Nina believes home-schooling allowed her daughter time to really dig into her writing interest.

“She would just write pages and pages and pages of stuff,” she said.

And she’s not done yet. Mattie, who hopes to become a high school English teacher, is working on two more books. One is another horse book aimed at younger readers; the other is a teen novel and represents another new path in Mattie’s writing career.

“I am trying my hand at fantasy with that one,” said Mattie, who has talked at schools about writing and publishing.

Mattie said she’s sold almost 1,000 books so far, and that she sold about 100 copies of her new work in two weeks.

“Blackberry Blossom” is available at Amazon.com. People can also contact Mattie directly at (701) 680-2136 or redheadkid7@msn.com to purchase books or to schedule her for a speaking engagement.