How horror stories gave this 11-year-old the courage to write his own book


Amr Salie’s older brother warned him not to touch his horror stories. Salie hadn’t even started school yet, and the books would be too scary for him. Needless to say, this only heightened the young boy’s curiosity. He couldn’t understand many of the words at the time, but he got the gist of the stories he pulled from his brother’s school bag. That early thrill culminated in Salie writing and publishing his own book at the age of 11.

Inspired in particular by RL Stine’s Goosebumps series, Salie spent a year writing Blameless based on a dream he had. “Blameless is about a character who goes through this mental disease and about how he deals with the things in his mind,” he says. “In the end, he deems himself blameless for all the things he has done due to his disorder.” The story was initially published online through the Fundza Literacy fund. But when Salie’s mother decided to have the story printed as a gift for him, she realised the potential it had to reach other young readers. She initially printed 50 copies, which soon sold out. The book launched commercially at the end of 2017, published by Tshienda Publications.

Salie mostly worked on the story at night. When new thoughts arose, he typed them into his father’s broken cellphone which Salie repaired himself – he is also a certified coder who excels at maths and science. Salie plans to keep writing when he can. But his long-term goal is to pursue app development and have his own gaming company. He is strongly supported by his parents, who believe in promoting their child’s interests with the aim of developing his skills – an attitude that is helping a South African child grow into an extraordinary young man.