I’m happy to introduce our readers to author Amy Cattapan. Amy’s debut young adult novel is Angelhood. I was privileged to read Angelhood in its infancy. There was no doubt in my mind that this book would make it into print. Click here for my full review of Angelhood. Amy is generously offering one free e-book of Angelhood. See the end of this post for details.
QPQ – I can’t imagine writing for the young adult market. It scares me to even think about it! What prepared you to reach out to this impressionable age group?
Amy – Years of hanging out with my target audience! I’m a middle school English teacher, and I began my career as a high school English teacher. Also, if we’re going to be honest, I prefer reading middle grade and young adult books. They tend to be faster-paced than adult books! So I’m very comfortable with this age group.
QPQ – I can’t imagine any better training to write for YA than that. Angelhood tackles the really tough subject of teenage suicide. Today’s statistics break my heart. For ages 10 – 24, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death. What led you to write about such an emotionally devastating issue?
Amy – That statistic makes me so sad. I guess it’s a topic I’ve had on my mind for a long time. Even in junior high, I was fascinated (and frightened!) by the idea of suicide. How could someone decide to do that? I even ended up writing my eighth grade research paper on teen suicide just because I wanted to get a better understanding of how someone could end up feeling like life wasn’t worth living. Throughout the years, I’ve had several students consider and/or attempt suicide. None of my students actually ended their own lives, but there was a younger brother of two of my former students who took his own life a few years ago (right after I finished revising Angelhood, in fact). In the beginning, I didn’t set out with a plan to write a book about teen suicide. It was simply an idea that came to me rather suddenly one day when I was bemoaning the fact that I had yet to work out the kinks in a middle grade mystery I had hoped to write during National Novel Writing Month (NaNo). The plot for Angelhood tumbled out within three days, so that’s what I ended up writing for NaNo that year (2011).
Amy – Excellent question. It’s definitely appropriate for high school students, but I could understand if parents had reservations with middle school students reading about such a serious topic. Like I said, I wrote my eighth grade research paper on teen suicide (somewhat surprisingly, my mom had no qualms about it!), so I think an eighth grader could read it, but parents have to decide if it’s appropriate for their younger teens and tweens. I’m glad you think it’s a book that could start some conversations between parents and their children. If it helped open lines of communication about depression and/or suicide, then that would be great.
QPQ – Just so everyone understands, this is not a gloomy book! The characters are so real and their mission creates plenty of suspense to keep those young readers turning the pages. What do you hope they will take away from reading Angelhood?
Amy – Thanks for saying that! It’s been a little hard for me to talk about the book because I worry people will get the wrong idea and think it’s all gloomy! Definitely not my goal! And it wouldn’t surprise me if people who know me are a little shocked by my subject matter. I like to think of Angelhood as being a story of moving from the darkness of despair to the light of hope. (And you know, as an English teacher, I’m going to throw in lots of imagery and symbolism with the light and the dark, right?) What I hope readers take away is this idea that we’re never really alone in our problems. Even in our darkest of times, God is always there with us, walking by our side and sending his angels to keep guard over us. I hope readers will remember Nanette’s story whenever they feel like they are alone and the world is beating down on them, and then remember that there’s a God who loves them, and all they need to do is reach out and ask for help. Ask God. Ask your guardian angel. Ask your family. Ask your friends. You’re not alone.
QPQ – I can’t think of a better takeaway from any book! What can we expect next from author Amy Cattapan?
Amy – I recently learned that a short (true) story I wrote about a family recipe will be appearing in a recipe book due out this summer. In my piece, I explain why I owe my existence to a peach pie! I also hope to start querying my spiritual travel memoir and eventually get back to writing that middle grade mystery.
QPQ – Where can readers connect with you online?
Amy – Website: www.ajcattapan.com
And everyone’s welcome at the Facebook launch party on April 30: http://tinyurl.com/AngelhoodFacebookParty
Giveaway: Leave a comment for Amy here and include your e-mail address. Do it securely, such as writer[at]jumbo[dot]com so the bots don’t pick it up. It’s that simple! Drawing takes place on Sunday, May 3rd, at or about 5:00pm Eastern.