Photo courtesy of Marta Stahlfeld
Marta Stahlfeld signs books for fans at a reading.

Burien Teen Publishes First Novel

Stahlfeld book signing at Federal Way Barnes and Noble on Aug. 27, 11 a.m.

Like many people, Burien resident Marta Stahlfeld is busy juggling her career and personal life. Stahlfeld published her first book, Darkwoods, in April and continues cultivating a promising writing career. What sets her apart, however, is that she is 17 years old and this fall will begin her senior year at Des Moines’ Evergreen High School, a private, Lutheran school.

“Encouragement is priceless,” says Stahlfeld regarding her success at a relatively young age. “My parents gave a certain amount of freedom for me to choose what I wanted to do and told me to work hard at it.”

Her passion for books began when Stahlfeld’s mother read to her and her brother when they were children. She remained an avid reader and developed a particular passion for fantasy fiction. Her enthusiasm eventually overflowed into wanting to write a book and create her own magical worlds.

“What I like best is being able to write about stuff that doesn’t happen in every day life, but you wish that it could - like turning invisible sometimes,” says Stahlfeld who almost always has a notebook on hand to jot down ideas.

Stahlfeld began writing Darkwoods when she was 12 years old. A family trip to Europe included stops at World War II battle sites such as Pointe du Hoc, a cliff along France’s Normandy coast that United States Army Rangers scaled and secured during the D-Day invasion.

Stahlfeld is particularly drawn to history because she enjoys learning about people and their real-life narratives. “It was amazing to see where the Allies fought so bravely. I started imagining stories about the people who fought there. It was a great time for imagination. I got home and started writing it all down,” says Stahlfeld.

Within a year and a half, she completed Darkwoods. The result was an epic story of good and evil with noble warriors such as the Squirrel Tribes and Ranger Mice who were loosely inspired by the WWII heroes.

“It’s impressive because it’s very elaborate and well written,” says Allison Lee-Moore, owner of Burien Books who has hosted two book signings for Stahlfeld. “As an author, she has a great passion for her work and can keep her audience captivated by imagination without having to rely on shock value, sex or violence,” says Lee-Moore.

Lee-Moore complimentarily compares Darkwoods to Brian Jacques’ popular Redwall series of which Stahfald is also a fan. Lee-Moore is personally and professionally happy to offer a book she can recommend to young readers and adults alike. “As an adult, you don’t feel like you’re reading a kid’s book,” she says.

Stahlfeld envisions Darkwoods as a series. She already finished the sequel and is in the middle of writing the third installment. She and her parents self-published the first book and her current focus is establishing a readership.

Buzz is building. Fans who attended Stahlfeld’s signings at Burien Books raved about Darkwoods. “I’ve been a fan of other people’s books a lot over the years,” says Stahlfeld. “It’s a little weird to now have people coming up to me, but it’s also really cool!”

Stahlfeld hopes to attend college in Wisconsin and possibly pursue a career as an English teacher. Despite being a published author, Stahlfeld still appreciates what she learns in the classroom.

“I’m not above high school writing when it comes to essays. I have a lot to learn and nobody can write everything perfectly,” she says humbly. She laughs, however, that she did try at least once to use her author status to comical advantage.

“One of my language arts teachers told us that we can break the rules (of writing) when we’re published authors. I asked her if that meant that I could start now!” laughs Stahlfeld.

Darkwoods is available for purchase locally at Burien Books, Barnes and Noble and online at To meet Marta Stahlfeld in person, her next book signing is at the Federal Way Barnes and Noble, August 27 at 11:00 a.m.

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