NEW CANAAN — Only 16, Jackie Prata already has a published book to her name.

Last Saturday, Prata, accompanied by her parents, celebrated the launch of her children’s picture book, “Fortune Cookie Surprise!”, at Elm Street Books. The book, coincidentally, was also released a day after Fortune Cookie Day, July 20.

The high school junior at Sacred Heart-Greenwich and New York resident has her eyes set on becoming a journalist, saying she has always liked to write from a young age.

Prata talked about her interests, passions and future goals.

Q: How do you feel about your book launch?

A: I feel a little nervous, but really excited because I put so much hard work and effort into this, and I’m so excited for other people to see it.

Q: Why did you have your launch at Elm Street Books?

A: I live in Harrison, N.Y., and I chose Elm Street Books because it was one of the first places I saw when I was looking to launch my book. And secondly because I really like the atmosphere there and all the people are really kind and helpful.

I felt that it would be a good place to put my book to — my school is in Connecticut so I spend a lot of time in that area as well. I thought it would be a great place.

Q: How did the idea come about? How long did it take to go from idea to published book?

A: It started out when I was in seventh grade and I had to write an “I believe” essay, where we take something that you wouldn’t expect to have a different meaning and you discuss that in an essay. It started with that and I wrote about fortune cookies. My mom read the essay and she thought it was really good.

In eighth grade, I started putting together the book. I’m now going into 11th grade — it took a while to publish. You have to edit, do the illustrations, etc. It’s been a really great experience and I’ve learned so much about my writing and about how much time and effort goes into these children’s books which a lot of people don’t really consider.

Q: Do you see yourself as a writer in the long term?

A: When I first started working on the book, I knew I really wanted to be involved in some type of writing, but I wasn’t sure what. Which is really what fueled me because I wanted to try something new and different that I hadn’t really experienced in the classroom.

I definitely want to get more involved in writing in the future. I see myself as a writer or a journalist, just someway I can help make a difference for other people in my community.

Q: Any projects for your junior and senior years?

A: I’m not sure yet. I definitely want to get more involved in writing and that type of scene because that’s what really interests me and where I’m strongest. As of now, I don’t have any plans for a next book but I want to keep my ideas open and start working on new things as time happens.

Q: You want to be a journalist?

A: That’s probably what I’m most interested in right now. I really just want to make a difference and make the world a better place. That’s what really goes behind everything I do and that’s why I think journalism is an incredible way to do that.

My main role model is Christiane Amanpour because I feel like she does so much in making the world stronger and better and I really just want to do the same thing.

Q: Have you thought of broadcast journalism?

A: That’s somewhere that I really like working as well. At Sacred Heart, there’s a really strong broadcast journalism program and I’ve made two documentaries so far. One was on the Special Olympics and the other was on Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. And they both really impacted me and my writing especially because I’ve worked with children who have cancer, and from my life’s perspective, to see children who are struggling with all these different things and feeling disconnected from their families. They still make their families happy and bring everything together for them.

Q: Sounds like writing has always been an interest for you?

A: I’ve always loved writing from a young age. I’ve loved music and books — I was an early reader. Since the beginning, I’ve always loved writing and I’ve been taking it to another level more recently.

Even during the summer, I’ll be at the New York Times Summer Academy Camp, and I’m really excited because it’ll be another way for me to broaden my information and ability in writing as I go into journalism and reporting.

humberto.juarez@

hearstmediact.com