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Young writer finds her escape

Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Jennifer Gillon of Washington Township is pictured with a copy of 'Life Like Glass,' the book she had published late last year. The author says the book served as an outlet for her to cope with her parents' divorce.

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Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, 10:50 p.m.

It's not easy for a young person to take something personally devastating and flip it into a positive.

That's what 18-year-old Jessica Gillon, a Washington Township resident and a 2013 Belle Vernon Area High School graduate, was able to do.

When her parents divorced in 2006, Gillon found herself filled with the typical emotions of anger and sadness. In an effort to express herself, she started writing down her thoughts.

“It all started with poetry but nothing with rhymes,” Gillon said. “That was how I expressed myself. I escaped into my writing.

“The poetry eventually got longer and longer until it became stories.”

Now, one of her stories has found its way onto bookshelves.

“Life Like Glass,” a book written by Gillon under the pen name Zoey King, is for sale on and

She chose the last name King because of Stephen King, her favorite author whose books became a getaway for her.

“Zoey had a certain ring to it,” she said.

Gillon's mother Patty said her daughter wanted to come up with something that would have kept her true identity a secret, just in case of overwhelming success.

Gillon said the book is actually the first of two to complete the story and is aimed at pre-teen and teenage audiences. She actually began writing a draft of the book in eighth grade.

“It's about a girl who is trapped within herself,” Gillon said of the book. “ ... not knowing where she came from. There's secrets on top of secrets and she can either accept her past or continue to investigate more into the things she finds out.

“There are moments of every emotion in the book - happiness, sadness, anger, you name it. As much as it depended on my moods, there were times that I figured I'd just wing it.”

Like many authors, there is a bit of truth to the story that Gillon tells.

“It really depended on my mood,” Gillon said. “If I was sad, I wrote something sad in the book. If I was angry, I wrote something aggressive in the book. There were times I would come across someone in my life, and they ended up becoming a character in the book. I was able to take out my anger on some people without physically doing anything to them. It felt good to be able to do that.”

Characters are something the book isn't lacking, Gillon said.

“There are werewolves and vampires, but I promise, there are no sparkly people,” Gillon said with a laugh, referring to the Twilight series. “These aren't wolves that look like they're on steroids, either. These are realistic ones.”

The main character is “just a regular girl,” Gillon said. But she is surrounded by secrets.

“That's why the title is ‘Life Like Glass,'” she added. “You can easily shatter someone's life by one little slip and fall.”

The book, published by Xlibris, a Bloomington, Ind.-based company, retails for $15.99 or less on the internet.

Her mom was an instant fan of the book.

“The story really kept me interested,” Patty Gillon said. “I was shocked with how the book ended and wanted more, but she said I'll have to wait for the next one.”

So does having a book published and having the ability to find a self-coping skill make Gillon a role model?

“I think I can call myself a role model,” Jessica Gillon said. “I know, for instance, my little cousins really look up to me. By writing, it got easier to cope. Writing puts me in my own little world. I got tired of people saying that I couldn't do something. This just goes to show that even though I'm shy and the quiet type, I can still make something of myself.”

Gillon, who turns 19 at the end of the month, will attend Westmoreland County Community College and major in fine arts.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2667.

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