13-year-old Auburn boy publishes novel

‘Marodden’ for sale on
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal features editor
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It takes a long time to write a book, and a lot of time and money to get it published. The process is so involved that many disheartened writers simply give up – but not Nico Tocchini, who is only 13 years old and now a published author.

The idea for Nico’s book, “Marodden: The Discovery,” came as a burst of inspiration while watching TV. As soon as the idea hit him, he started writing. A little over a year later, “Marodden” was finished and Nico decided to get it published.

“Marodden is the place where cats originated from before they were domesticated,” said Nico, an animal lover who donates 10 percent of all book proceeds to no-kill shelters. “They were the small cats, so when humans came, it kind of disbanded.”

“Marodden” tells the story of three cats – Davy Crockett, Mister Kitty and Sierra – who go on a journey to find and restore the lost land. Along the way they encounter friends and enemies, including coyotes and a flock of geese. The real-life Davy Crockett and Sierra belong to Nico and his mom, Jan, who drew the cover and chapter headings for the book.

“It was them against the elements,” Jan explained. “They’re on a quest, so they’re traveling from up here in Auburn all the way down to Mexico.”

Jan said that as she started helping Nico with the editing process, she got caught up in the adventure of “Marodden” and found herself eagerly awaiting each new chapter.

“He’s good at sports, he’s good at writing, he’s good at math,” she said. “He’s good at so many different things, but the writing he just really, really loves to do.”

Nico’s eighth-grade English teacher, Randy Havens, said the young author will be a good example for other Bowman Elementary School students interested in writing.

“Other students are saying, ‘Wow, he really likes writing books, he’s following his dreams, he knows what he wants to do.’ He’s a very good role model for other kids who enjoy writing.”

Havens said he was impressed when Nico told him he had written and published a chapter book, especially at such a young age. "Marodden" is geared toward 6- to 11-year-old readers.

“He’s very articulate,” Havens said. “He’s very good with words. He’s thoughtful, he’s organized.”

When it came time to publish, Nico said, he learned an important lesson about raising and saving money. His book is semi-self-published through Amazon’s CreateSpace, which charges $1,000 to design and distribute the book. Nico raised the money himself by saving birthday and chore money, and by getting creative.

“He bought some tomato seeds and we went around and collected old plastic pots that people were done with,” Jan said. Nico grew the tomatoes from seeds, and then, “He went around and peddled them to neighbors and friends.”

More than 30 people have purchased “Marodden” on Amazon so far. In addition to donating to no-kill shelters, Nico said that he would like to do readings and signings at various schools, and if purchases are made at those engagements, he’ll give 10 percent of sales to the school.

“People who are actors and everything, they have so much, and I think they should give a little,” he explained. “They don’t need that much, and I don’t need that much, either.”

Nico is working on a sequel to “Marodden,” along with a young adult book. He said he was inspired to be a writer by his grandfather, who was also a writer. Nico wrote another book, “Asian Elephant,” when he was only 7 years old. That story, about an elephant prince learning how to be a king, helped teach Nico about perseverance and patience when it comes to writing.

“Don’t write when you don’t have inspiration, otherwise it will turn out pretty badly,” he said.

“When he has stories or an idea that comes into his head, he knows he needs to sit down and start writing, because that’s when the magic happens,” Jan said. “And he goes for it.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at



Read for yourself

“Marodden: The Discovery” is for sale on for $6.95, and will be available in stores in a few weeks. A Kindle e-edition is coming soon. For more information, email