Today’s the day! My very first teen contemporay novel is out in the world!
Last week at the Teen Author Reading Night at the Jefferson Market Library in New York, moderator David Levithan asked the panel what part of our books were most autobiographical, and this got me thinking. The truth is, even though I’ve never been kidnapped, Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee is probably the most autobiographical book I’ve ever written.
The book takes place in the fictional town of Grey Wood, Oregon, which is very much like my home town of Cottage Grove. Amy’s family comes from the same culture as my family. And Amy is a lot like me. This book was incredibly hard to write at times because I was so fully in Amy’s head that I was feeling everything she was feeling. I started with the question, If I was in this situation, what would I do? What would I feel? Who would I care about? How would I be able to survive?
Amy gets off the bus in the first scene having suffered a terrible trauma and dealing with a horrific secret. She carries the weight of six long years lived one day at a time. Now she faces reuniting with the family she was stolen from. How will she deal with seeing her Mom again? How will she be able to live with herself knowing that others have suffered and are still suffering? How will she process all her memories and be able to move forward? I asked all these questions while putting myself inside Amy’s head. I did read books about real kidnappings, but the main source material for Amy’s personality and feelings is me. As I told the audience at the panel, I don’t know if I would have been as selfless as Amy. I’m fortunate to have never been in a situation as a kid where I had to look out for others. But this book is how I imagine I would feel and act if I had to face those things.
Amy wants to find a way to put one foot in front of another, to experience each day for itself, and to help her loved ones make it through the next day with her. Hers is a story of survival. I think that in some ways, each of us is the main character in our own survival story. Regardless of what struggles we face, we do our best to face them bravely and to help others along the way.
I hope you will be moved by Amy’s story.