Mason Lyle's third-grade teacher said he would be successful in math or science, but he would never be able to string a sentence together.
"But not to worry, he will have a secretary," Mason's mom, Shelly Beck, remembered the teacher telling her.
The teacher might have been right on one count — Mason, 17, wants to pursue science as a career — but the teacher couldn't have been further off when it came to writing.
The Corona del Mar High School senior can not only string sentences together, but he did it hundreds of thousands of times in his first novel, "Withering Harmony."
After five years of writing, rewriting and editing, he is hosting a book-launch party Saturday for the print and digital novel he is self-publishing.
"If I sell a single copy to someone who is not my best friend, I'll be pretty ecstatic, actually," Mason said. "I didn't write this book to make money; I didn't write this book to make sales or become a famous writer.
"I wrote it because I wanted to write a book about something I thought was interesting, and I just wanted to write about a speculative environment that I thought should be speculated about."
"Withering Harmony" follows field botanist Garth Eriksen, who travels to war-torn countries on behalf of pharmaceutical companies in the search of medicinal plants.
The novel takes place in 2020. The world is in all-out war between two political factions: the persona, a secretive, imperialistic Chinese government in the East; and the Allied Nations, a militarized United Nations in the West.
Eriksen tries to survive as society has devolved into tribes armed to the teeth and ruled by aggression and violence; he also tries to understand how humans lost their inherent attraction to being social.
"There are things inherently unnatural about how everyone has lost their sense of community, just how irrational everyone is acting, how inhumane," Mason said. "He tries to discover the deeper secrets of the collapse."
Mason started forming the idea in middle school during the 2008 presidential elections when hope and unity among the nations was being discussed. He wondered what would happen if the world came together.
He also wondered what would happen if there were a complete breakdown of social contract between society and government in a country where everyone has access to guns.
"There were two completely idealized visions of what the world could be like, and I sort of decided to put them together," he said. "I've always thought in stories, novels. It's always been inherent in my mental metaphors. It's how I view things. So I decided to write the story."
If You Go
What: Book launch party for "Withering Harmony" by Mason Lyle.
When: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday with an author reading at 7:30 p.m.
Where: 708 Avocado Ave., Corona del Mar
Reservations: (949) 244-8502
Cost: Pre-order the book for $18.95 or buy the e-book on Amazon next week for undetermined price