Our First Publication: Leaving Wishville by Mel Torrefranca

I started writing Leaving Wishville at the age of fourteen, during my freshman year of high school. Over the next two years I edited the novel, hosted three rounds of beta readers to provide feedback on what to improve, and shared photos on Instagram with occasional writing updates.

My goal was to publish my novel before graduating high school. At the age of 16 I finished editing the novel and started the publishing process. I reached out to the talented cover designer and illustrator Ivan Cakamura. He created the gorgeous design for Leaving Wishville’s cover, which Instagram had a great response to.


—Brian McBride, author of SONS OF SLAUGHTER & more

Book Trailer

I was so excited about publishing my book that I filmed a book trailer for Leaving Wishville with my friends in Stinson Beach, California, which I posted on YouTube and Instagram a few months before the book’s release. My video editing skills have evolved since I filmed it, but I still hold the trailer dear to my heart.

And then came release day!!! I published Leaving Wishville on February 8, 2020. I enjoyed the publishing process immensely—the research, communicating with designers, deciding on prices—and I realized I would love to publish other writers’ books as well. I was seventeen years old and in my junior year of high school when I founded Lost Island Press.

What is Leaving Wishville about?

Leaving Wishville is a young adult magical realism novel. The story follows Benji Marino, a fourteen-year-old boy longing to discover what lies beneath his small town’s border.

LEAVING WISHVILLE is a fresh and imaginative debut, woven together with a haunting quietness that makes you eager to know what’s hiding beneath the story’s surface. Fans of THE GIVER will be immediately enraptured by the magical and mysterious world of Wishville.

— Abbie Emmons, author of 100 Days of Sunlight

YouTube Growth

I created a few more videos about Leaving Wishville following its release, including a Q&A. My YouTube channel started to grow, and I was hyped!! I created more writing-related content and documented my first author event at Copperfield’s Books.

Short Film Adaptation

Filmmaker Sebastian Delgado reached out to me about creating a proof-of-concept short film of Leaving Wishville. Of course, I agreed. I met with Sebastian in Santa Cruz for location scouting, and the next day I met with the cast and crew to record footage of a behind-the-scenes video for one day of filming.

First Book Birthday

One year after Leaving Wishville’s release, I published a video celebrating its one year book birthday. In it I answered Instagram story questions related to both my debut novel as well as my upcoming publication,


Publishing Leaving Wishville was the spark for creating Lost Island Press, and for that alone I’m extremely grateful. The amount of reviews, Instagram DMs, and YouTube comments I’ve received from people who have enjoyed my story has been overwhelming. It means so much to me that people have read my work, which is why I am so excited to help other writers publish their stories as well!

Mel Torrefranca

Mel Torrefranca is a novelist from the San Francisco Bay Area, now residing in the jungly mountains of Northern Thailand. Her books feature morally gray characters, bold endings, and a pinch of awkward humor. Mel discovered her passion for writing at the age of seven and published her debut novel Leaving Wishville during high school. She also drinks way too many lattes.