Published Before Graduation

Washington College joins junior Natalie Martinaitis in celebrating the publication of her book, The Post-PSO Project. The novella takes readers to the far reaches of space, in a world where psychological experiments on children have been carried out simultaneously on Earth and Mars by the People Stimulus Organization (PSO).  The story follows Amelia, one of 10 children invited to join Capt. Karen McCall’s mission to the Red Planet to explore outside the PSO site by attending Camp Red Sands, where they will build a model of the planet’s surface. Amelia seeks to discover what lies outside the camp’s perimeter. But what lies beyond could end them all.

Junior Natalie Martinaitis hopes to expand with more books on the way, but first, she has class. Provided by Washington College.

Published by World Castle Publishing and available starting Dec. 11 as a paperback and Kindle eBook, The Post-PSO Project resulted from a novella writing class project at Washington College.

“I loved that I could write a book for a class,” says Martinaitis. “It was certainly challenging to get in 10 pages a week.”

The story takes place in a world Martinaitis crafted for two previous, much longer works, both of which have yet to find a publisher. Martinaitis first came up with the idea of the PSO world when a friend showed her a Pinterest post that read something along the lines of “what if humanity had to judge each other after watching these movies: The Silence of the Lambs, The Sixth Sense, Titanic?” Contemplating that thought led her to draft a play which, she states quite frankly, she hated. However, she fell in love with one of the characters she had created, named Elliot Green — a gentle, passionate, and kind soul, traumatized by forced experiments conducted by the PSO.

“I decided to write Elliot a book of his own, which I titled Elliot’s Story. It reached 800 pages,” exclaimed Martinaitis.

Calling it her magnum opus, she submitted the tome to more than 15 literary agents and was rejected every time. Undeterred and still inspired, she soon began another novel in the same world, about the antagonist from the first, Martin Woods. That book, Demons, is nearly finished.

“I thought these would be the only books within the world of PSO,” says Martinaitis. “But it turned out I was wrong. I had two dreams which featured the Mars landscape, and I knew they would have to become stories.” And thus, The Post-PSO Project was born.

Hailing from nearby Columbia, Maryland, Martinaitis has been diligently plugging away at making her dream of becoming a published author a reality, while also working to obtain her bachelor’s degree and serving as the editor-in-chief of the Washington College Review.

While most authors do not succeed in publishing a work until well into their thirties, Martinaitis shows no signs of slowing down in her success. She’s aiming to win the coveted Washington College Sophie Kerr Prize next year, the largest undergraduate literary award in the country. When asked about her plans after graduation, Martinaitis says she dreams of being a full-time writer.

“Natalie is a serious student in the best sense—she has a serious hunger for knowledge, a serious enthusiasm for conversation with her fellow students, and a serious commitment for improving her writing and engagement with literature,” said Washington College Department of English Chair Courtney Rydel.

That seriousness has paid off, and Martinaitis gives credit to the workshops and classes she has taken at Washington College and to Roy Kesey, associate director for the Washington College Rose O’Neill Literary House and lecturer in English and creative writing, for assisting with editing the novella and giving pointers on how to write a query letter to publishers.

Now, Martinaitis is turning her eyes to what’s next for the literary world she has created.

“I hope that my books Elliot’s Story and Demons will find their forever homes,” she said. “However, I also have interest in the editing world, so I may first begin in children’s and YA editing.”

The College has a long history of literary excellence and has molded and promoted countless new and emerging writers, editors, and publishers. On campus, Washington College’s Rose O’Neill Literary House offers literary-minded students programming across disciplines, professional mentorship, guidance, and spaces to study and to hold class. Those interested in adegree or minor in English, creative writing, journalism or editing and publishing from Washington College’s Department of English can learn more at



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