For the reader who longs to once again indulge in the fantasies they adored in years past, “The Well Where The World Ends” is a whimsical novel written by Cleo Lockhart ‘25.
The story follows Riley, the 12-year-old protagonist, as she adventures through a magical forest to a wishing well. With a series of mysterious events and quirky companions along the way, Riley finds that she plays an important role in the mystery of the wishing well.
Lockhart began “The Well Where The World Ends” as a self-indulgent creative project, something which recalled the spark of fantasy that got them into reading as a kid.
“I’ve written things in other genres that are more sophisticated, but I sort of wanted to write about magic and make something whimsical,” Lockhart said.
When the pandemic hit, Lockhart took a gap year and committed to finishing a first draft before the 2021 school year began.
“I had the very beginning, the skeleton of the story in my brain,” Lockhart said. “My promise to myself was that I would have a rough draft before I started college.”
The morning before Lockhart began New Student Orientation, they completed the epilogue and thus the first draft was born.
Lockhart drew inspiration from diverse places throughout their writing process.
“It honestly started from a combination of a dream I had and because I went to the Denver botanical gardens,” Lockhart said. “They have this winter light display where there were these cool lights set out on a reflection pool and strung up throughout. My brain was like ‘hey, what if there was a garden that grew lights?’”
In a dream, Lockhart had a wasp as a familiar and despite their fear of the insect, liked the idea.
“I got really attached to my little dream wasp and thought it would be a cool plot point,” Lockhart said.
With a first draft completed, Lockhart spent time whenever they could re-reading and editing the draft.
“I have a couple of friends that are also into writing and they wanted to help edit my book and I thought that was so cool,” Lockhart said. “It was a labor of love and the sweetest thing in the world.”
Being around creative people, they added, was also inspiring because of the different interpretations everyone had.
Lockhart said the publishing process was tedious at times. They submitted the work to a small bookshop in Colorado, as well as a handful of other publishers, but ultimately decided to self-publish.
“We had to keep editing the proofs, and things would turn out in the wrong shape, but over the summer I finally got the version I liked in July,” Lockhart said.
With some help from their stepfather, Lockhart published and printed the first editions of the novel. They also keep a stack of books ready to be sold to students on campus.
“I published it through lulu.com, and it’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble,” Lockhart said. “But I also have been selling them at the student markets.”
Lockhart read a snippet of the novel at the Co-Op’s Wednesday night open mic and plans on hosting a reading at Aubrey R. Watzek Library later in the semester.
“I have been talking to Erica Johnson at the library and she actually ordered a copy for the library, too,” Lockhart said. “We talked about hosting a reading in the library sometime in March, the date is still to be determined.”
To purchase a copy or keep up to date on the book’s events, DM Lockhart on Instagram @clock.hart.