Elias Mask has a style all his own. When he’s out and about, he looks dapper in one of his many fedoras. Often, it’s perfectly paired with a button-down shirt and a tie.
But it wasn’t his sense of fashion that captured the attention of Georgia-based publisher Charlie’s Port; it was his writing style that quickly won them over.
The Dorsey Attendance Center (DAC) seventh grader was one of only eight children across the nation to recently sign a contract with the children’s book publisher. Mask is the only one in the group to sign for a book series.
Titled “The EXTRA Ordinary Life of Elias,” Mask has already written four books for the series.
“I’d like to write at least twenty for the series,” he said. “That’s my goal.”
Dorsey Attendance Center will hold a pep rally in honor of Mask’s accomplishments this Friday, Sept. 20, at 2 p.m.
The first book in Mask’s adventure series is set to hit shelves in the fall of 2020. In “The Alien Invasion,” a fictional version of the young author catches a glimpse of his father kissing his mother while wearing an alien mask, leading him to ponder how to rid their home of aliens.
In the second book, “School Days,” the young adventurer is convinced his math teacher is a bank robber and tries to stop him.
The third in the series, “A Treasure in Mexico,” holds sentimental value to the Mask family. In the book Elias Mask’s grandmother gives him a treasure map that’s been handed down from generation to generation. It leads Mask to seek riches on his grandmother’s ranch.
But, spoiler alert, there’s a twist … the adventurous and poignant tale is taken almost straight from the pages of the writer’s own life.
Elias Mask holds dual citizenship for both the United States and Mexico. His mother, Beatriz, was born and raised in the neighboring country. His father, Terry, grew up in southwest Itawamba County where the family resides today. The two met while working in Los Angeles.
The family often spends summers at Beatriz Mask’s family ranch in Mexico, the setting for “A Treasure in Mexico.”
“It’s always been important to us that Elias knows both of our heritages, both of our families,” his mother said. “So, we spend as much time there as we can when he’s not in school.”
Elias Mask wanted his third book to reflect his heritage and the place he loves.
“I feel at home in both places,” he said. “They are both important.”
As a part of his contract, Elias Mask’s books will be released in both English and Spanish.
Living in the Carolina Community has allowed Mask to spend time with his paternal grandparents while also giving him the opportunity to be in a school district his parents say better suits him.
“We love Dorsey,” Terry Mask said. “I attended school there, and Elias loves it. In California, the classrooms had 30-40 students with no assistants. It’s much more hand-on here.”
In each of his books, Elias Mask includes one of his school friends in the adventure. It’s his way of honoring their friendship.
It was Elias’s hands-on experience during his sixth grade creative writing class that sparked his interest in writing. His teacher, Leigh Ann Eaton, challenged her class through projects creating prose and poetry to help uncover their writing talents.
“Miss Eaton would give photos, and we would write about how they made us feel, or she would have us write a quote about it,” Mask said. “Creative writing really helped a lot.”
His parents credit the class for bringing their son’s talent to light.
“If it hadn’t been for the creative writing class, we might not have ever known his potential,” his father said. “We are grateful that he had the opportunity.”
Mask spends much of his time at his keyboard, typing away. Every day after school, he edits the work he did the day before.
“I read a quote about writers that I like,” he said. “Anytime you sit down to write, you roll up your sleeves and bleed.”
Quotes are a favorite of Mask’s. He writes his own and posts them on his Instagram page.
But he admits, writing may not be his lifelong career.
“I’d like to attend Harvard someday and major in robotic surgery,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in that.”
In the meantime, Mask is a bit nervous about Friday’s event. Despite the flashy hats and all the books he’s penned, Mask isn’t used to being in the limelight.
Still, one of his own quotes best suits the occasion:
“Life is too short to have an ordinary life,” he posted to his Instagram page. “Having an extraordinary life is inside everyone if we just let it out.”