Carson City author set to inspire teens with mental health novels
After publishing five books with more to come, Alec John Belle, 20, has only been a resident of Carson City for two years and is already giving back to the community: he’s granting readers free electronic copies of his work.
But there’s a purpose behind his freebies as he’s more concerned to get a message out to the community, rather than making money.
Many of the plots in his self-published novels focus on topics many are too afraid to talk about: suicide, homosexuality, self harm, bullying, mental illness, and other challenges teenagers face.
“People are genuine in Carson City,” he said. “But when it comes to discussing mental illness, it’s like a taboo; it’s a topic that’s brushed under the rug.”
As Carson City is taking steps to enhance mental health resources and dispel negative stigmas, Belle is taking steps of his own by writing stories, as he was recently diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorders.
“I’ve taken a lot of my personal struggles, including mental illness, and turned them around into something positive with my writing,” he said. “I believe that my story is something that could help inspire others in the community.”
Based off his experiences, Belle hopes to make an impact not only to bookworms and aspiring writers, but to those who are going through similar challenges.
During his senior year at Carson High School, Belle wrote a novel called “The Long Road Home” for his senior project. The story is about a girl in a psychiatric hospital after attempting suicide, with each chapter focusing on the character’s past and present perspectives.
He wrote the book in one month and it printed in April 2016 — a month after his publisher shut down, affecting about 500 authors including Belle.
“It was the hardest book I’ve written so far but it’s also my favorite,” he said. “It doesn’t sugarcoat things and it’s a realistic example. I couldn’t listen to the audio book version because it hits me. It’s one of the best pieces I’ve written from the most hardest times.”
Belle published his first novel until he was 16, before he moved to Carson City. His first novel, “Before I Break” ranked in the top 10 books on the LGBT Issues Bestseller List on Amazon.com.
The story is based in Texas and is about a heterosexual teenage boy, whom comes from a religious family, and meets a new friend at school who’s gay.
“I think this was more of a character-driven book rather than plot-driven,” he said. “I’m a spiritual person, but I have no intent of offending anyone in my work. It’s about the message underneath that can be misguiding.”
Currently, the novel is no longer available for sale as Belle is in the process of revamping the entire story. “What I learned as an author, there’s so much difference in my writing now compared to when I was 16,” he said. “I’m going to make it better than before.”
Belle grew up in Webster, Mass., with a desire to move somewhere new once he turned 18. His family still resides in Webster and supports his self-publications.
By 18, he chose Northern Nevada to attend Ventana Sierra, a nonprofit writing program directed by New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.
Hopkins is a former Northern Nevada resident and is known for her novels such as “Crank” and “Impulse,” a series exposing teenage challenges in drug addiction and mental health.
Belle plans to settle in between Carson City and Reno for some time, as his boyfriend is attending the University of Nevada, Reno.
On top of that, he’s attending Western Nevada College and plans to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
“I want to offer classes at community colleges and universities someday,” he said. “I also want to open a small publishing house in the area for authors.”
Belle is continuing to work on his paranormal series, “Forbidden Darkness Chronicles,” which also blends in mental health topics. He’s proposing eight books in the series, as he’s currently working on the fourth.
Another novel he’s working on, called “Every Shade of Me,” will most likely take place in Nevada, he said.
When he writes, he has a tattoo on his right wrist that says “My story isn’t over yet” with a semicolon, representing his strength.
“I think when people read my novels, specifically the Forbidden Darkness Chronicles, they parallel into it,” he said. “There’s darkness in the world but without darkness, there is no light. I want my novels to give readers hope because you can’t have one without the other.”