E-book author parlays DIY success into major deal

By Tara Bannow

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 24 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

"Switched," the first book in her Trylle Trilogy, is about a rebellious 17-year-old girl who meets Finn, a mysterious new boy at school. She later learns that she's a Trylle, a human-looking troll who was switched at birth, and Finn was to return her to the other trolls. There, she learns she's a princess.

Stacy Schmitz-Miller, 37, of Wadena, Minn., a fan of romance novels who had read the "Twilight" series, said "Switched" was one of the first books that came up when she searched Amazon's romance category. Since it was only 99 cents, she said, "What the heck," and gave it a try. She went on to read all of Hocking's books in two weeks, swept up in their romance and mystery.

"I think every woman can relate to sort of wanting to feel protected," she said.

Grace Onorato, a young blogger from Delmar, N.Y., called "Switched" predictable but a fun "cheese read."

"It's an addicting, easy to digest book that can be devoured in an afternoon," Onorato wrote in her blog. "It probably won't win any literary awards, but it is definitely still worth reading."

Earlier this year, Terri Tatchell, co-screenwriter of the 2009 science fiction film "District 9," agreed to adapt the books from Hocking's Trylle Trilogy as a screenplay.

Hocking said she hasn't adjusted to having money.

Her big-ticket spending has been limited to a car, a television and clearing some debts for herself and loved ones. She still shares the same house she rents with her best friend, Eric Goldman, for $250 a month although she has her eye on buying another place across town. Goldman now serves as her paid assistant, handling email, tracking her schedule and taking the occasional media inquiry.

"I make him turn stuff down," Hocking said. "I don't like to tell people no."

AP National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report.

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