Jahnarr Evans, 16, posing with "Khuno's Tears," the book he authored and published last month. Photo: Alek Lewis

A 16-year-old student at Riverhead High School has made his foray into professional writing and published his first novel, “Khuno’s Tears,” last month.

Jahnarr Evans, a junior from Riverhead, wrote what he described as an “artistic” and “dynamic” representation of mental health that takes place in the head of the main character.

“Partially it’s literary fiction, but there’s another element beyond just being literary fiction that I can’t myself fully describe,” Evans said. 

Evan said the novel “takes place in the character’s head” and follows a narrator who is struggling with loneliness, anger and sadness. He said the book explores “just how complicated it could be for just any one person.”

“The purpose of the book was mainly for like, the sake of telling out the character’s emotional state and everything they think, while they are just like living the sort of life that they live,” he said.

Although the story draws on his own experience with mental health, he said tried to capture “what the worst of mental health could be.”

He started writing the book in the summer of 2021. It started as a small idea, “and then I just, on a whim, decided to make it into a book,” he said.

”I worked on it often during class to be honest, and then also during lunch,” he said. He later moved his workspace to the Riverhead Free Library, which allowed him to work in an environment with no distractions. He finished revising the book earlier this year and hired a professional editor to work on it. 

It became available to purchase and order in late April.

“I just want to write something like look back on and think ‘you know, this is pretty good,’” he said.

Evans said his love for writing, like many others, was born out of his love of reading, specifically realistic fiction and science fiction. 

“The concept of being an author seems very cool to me,” he said. He used to daydream ideas while in school, but never write them down. “And then one day I was like, you know what? Maybe I should start actually writing this down.”

Although he currently has no aspirations to have a full-time career in writing, he still wants to continue writing in his free time. He has already started writing his second book, he said. 

“Something more solid and grounded is what I’m aiming for, career-wise,” Evans said. “But writing probably is going to always be something I do.” It’s his form of expression, he said.

“Khuno’s Tears” is available to purchase in paperback at select book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and as an e-book. The cover art for the novel was created by a fellow Riverhead High School student, senior Karla Hernandez.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com