What inspired you to write this incredibly descriptive book?
I grew up in a home with 2 alcoholic parents and the family disintegrated one summer and my mother left. It was the defining moment in my life, the day my mom left, and it changed me forever in so many ways. As I got older, I realized that many people grew up in very dysfunctional homes, some with alcoholic or drug addicted, mentally ill, or abusive parents. And all of us, those who had lived in homes like that, really struggled with issues of self-worth. I was able to overcome my demons, but I've met many people who did not. So, I wanted to write a book that highlighted that kind of growing up and also what it would take to overcome the feeling that you have no value and no one cares for you. I wanted kids to know that they do have value but that they have to find it in themselves and they have to believe in it, even if no one in their family does. I thought that if I wrote a book that shows a girl in this situation and the reality of what it took for her to believe that she had worth that it might speak to a teen who struggles with the same.
In every family, children are very different. I know in my own family that my sister who was two years older than me was VERY different than I was. She had a very different personality and the things that happened in our family had an impact on her in ways similar to the impact it had on me, but her reactions were different. The message she took away from childhood was different than the one I took away. Life is not as it is for each of us, it is how we see it or believe it to be, and I wanted to show that everyone has a different experience given the same situation.
The Des and Cassidy are to very different people. Do you feel that was important to the story?
I would suggest that they talk to a trust edadult, whether a teacher, school counselor, a mom, whoever. This can be problematic, though. I know one middle schooler who told a school counselor that her friend was being abused. The counselor called CPS and they were brought into the situation. Of course, the family denied that there was abuse and the kid who blew the whistle was made the target of much scorn as a result. But the good news is that the abuse stopped and her friend now has a chance. So, it can be costly to jump into things like this, but I do believe it's worth saving a life if you can.
What advice would you give to a friend who knows their friend is being abused?
The mom of a friend. Maybe the school counselor. A teacher they trust. Someone they feel comfortable talking to.
Who would you recommend an child talk to if they are afraid of talking to the cops?
I am working on selling one book about a girl who lives in a trailer park and totally screws up her life when she tries to prove that she's a "somebody". I have a midgrade about a talking rat that I'm working on and I have an adult book about a girl who is abandoned by her mother and left with her very eccentric extended family.
Any more books from you in the future?
Remember that it's like driving through a fog. You can only see as far as the headlights, but trust the process and move forward, however slowly. I'd also suggest that they learn to love to revise because writing IS about revising and they will be doing a lot of it.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to right a book?