By Shelby Brooks

A KORUMBURRA Secondary College graduate released her debut novel last week to overwhelmingly positive reviews, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Alex Smith, who writes as Alex Clifford, graduated Korumburra Secondary College in 2008 and credits her English and literature teachers for fostering her love of writing during VCE.

“I started writing when I was probably about 11,” she said.

“I think I wanted to write a book since I was in high school, but it was one of those things where I didn’t really take it as something I could do seriously until recently.

“Real life gets in the way and you have to pay bills and being an author is not something that can do that right away.”

Alex had the idea for her novel, ‘The Mark of Things Unwanted,’ a few years ago but only found the opportunity during COVID-19 lockdowns to commit to writing it.

“2020 really smacked everyone in the face with the whole got to do things while you can,” she said.

“I didn’t really have time until 2020.

“I was one of the lucky ones who did better during lockdown.”

‘The Mark of Things Unwanted’ is a fantasy novel about a witch cursed to kill anyone they touch meeting a boy who cannot die.

Alex has self-published the book, taking on the financial risk herself rather than taking it to a literary agent.

“My experience with talking to agents was that they were very interested in the story, but it wasn’t sitting with what they believed they could sell to publishers at the moment, just because the fantasy market is very saturated,” Alex said.

“I believe a lot in what I have written and believe it is a story that needs to be told so I stuck with it and did it myself and there has been massive support in the indie-author community to get this going.”

Released January 5, the book has already sold about 100 copies and has all four- and five-star reviews on Good Reads.

Head to to buy the book.