Today, for my last interview/book feature of 2013, I’m welcoming amazing author and fellow YAOutsidethelines blogger, Jody Casella, whose debut YA novel, Thin Space arrived in September of this year from Simon & Schuster.
Here’s a quick synopsis:
There’s a fine line between the living and the dead, and Marshall is determined to cross it in this gut-wrenching debut novel.
Ever since the car accident that killed his identical twin brother, Marshall Windsor has been consumed with guilt and crippled by the secrets of that fateful night. He has only one chance to make amends and set things right. He must find a thin space—a mythical point where the barrier between this world and the next is thin enough for a person to step through to the other side.
But when a new girl moves into the neighborhood, into the exact same house Marsh is sure holds a thin space, she may be the key—or the unraveling of all his secrets.
As they get closer to finding a thin space—and closer to each other—March must decide once and for all how far he’s willing to go to right the wrongs of the living…and the dead.
SLJ calls Thin Space, “a spooky story of the highest order” and Kirkus says, “A creepy supernatural chiller sets up a gut-punch of desolation and loss....Brutal and brilliant."
As for me, my mom was an identical twin, so stories about twins, especially spooky, creepy stories about twins and secrets, are an automatic must read! (Full disclosure, my mom and aunt were TOTALLY identical. Like even boyfriends and sometimes family had trouble telling them apart. So I grew up always wondering what it would be like to have an exact doppelganger like that.
In any case, if you want a cool, spooky, and atmospheric mystery with twins, this is the book for you! Even if you don’t want that, you will adore this book. It is a spectacular debut and I’m thrilled to feature Jody’s writing here today!
So let me introduce Jody Casella and Thin Space!
Joy: Well, I have to ask first, what was the inspiration for Thin Space? It is such a sad and devastating premise! Plus the ‘thin space’ idea – is it based on anything you’ve read about or something you created on your own?
Jody: Thin Space came about in kind of a weird way. Several years ago when my son was in 7th grade (he's now a sophomore in college, just to put in perspective how long this process sometimes takes), he rode a school bus with an older boy who was always barefoot. I pestered my son for months to try to get the inside scoop about the boy. What was the kid's motivation for going shoeless? What were his parents thinking? Why would the school allow one of their students to walk around (in winter!) barefoot? During that same time, I came across an article in a magazine about the Celtic belief in thin places, sacred places on earth where the veil between our world and the world of the dead is thinner. The two seemingly unrelated ideas--the barefoot boy and the Celtic thin place--came together when I started writing the book.
Joy: The brief version of your debut author journey? Because we all love debut author journeys!
Jody: Thin Space is the sixth book I've written and the first to be published. My long, bumpy, rollercoastery journey to publication is either depressing or inspiring, depending on how you look at it. I had been writing since I could I hold a pencil. I have a degree in Creative Writing. I've had stories published. But for whatever reason, I wasn't able to transfer my story writing experience to novel writing. In the end I think I broke through because of a mixture of determination and dumb luck. In other words, I kept writing and submitting until I wore the publishing world down.
Joy: Without getting too spoilery, tell us about Marsh and Austin Windsor.
Jody: Marsh is reeling after a car accident that killed his identical twin brother Austin. He blames himself for his brother's death, even though it truly wasn't his fault. He can't let go of the guilt though, and when a dying elderly neighbor tells him that she's going to make a thin space in her house, he basically becomes obsessed with finding it. He gets it into his head that if he can find a thin space, he can see his brother, and all of his problems will be solved.
Joy: Have you always loved supernatural tales/ghost stories/tales of loss? Are there any other books/films in particular that inform your love of these genres?
Jody: I do love stories with supernatural or fantasy elements, but that are also grounded in reality. Two of my favorites growing up were Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp, a creepy story about the evil spirit of a dead girl, and Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer, a time travel book about a haunted boarding school. Both books, come to think of it, deal with the theme of loss. And both are psychological thrillers with lots of twists and turns.
Joy: What books are on your nightstand right now?
Jody: For my book club I am reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Up next on the pile is the latest by one of my favorite writers Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone.
Joy: Oh! I just read Me Before You! I wasn’t as sad as some readers, but it was still an emotional roller coaster!
Joy: Any favorite TV shows or other pop culture obsessions?
Jody: I love watching Teen Wolf with my teen daughter. My husband and I are catching up on Breaking Bad. We are always a few steps behind everyone else pop-culturally. Last summer we watched all of Game of Thrones. Man. That show was insane.
Joy: We are finally catching up on GOT season 3 in this house. Tonight we'll watch ep 9, which is the Red Wedding! We already know how it turns out, but now we have the full context of the earlier eps of the season. Holy cow. And also, Theon Greyjoy's torture sequences have been quite well, I don't have a word right now. Other than ouch. People have lost a lot of body parts this season.
Joy: When you’re not writing, what can we find you doing?
Jody: Reading. Being a mom. Walking the dog multiple times a day.
Joy: What’s next for Jody Casella?
Jody: In the years it took to find a publishing home for Thin Space, I wrote four other novels, including the sequel to TS. I have no idea if it will ever see the light of publishing day, but I had a blast finding out what would happen next for my barefoot boy. Lately, I am struggling with a rewrite of a rewrite of a rewrite of another novel. I can't get it right--whatever that means--but I can't see myself quitting on it either.
If you want to find out more about Jody and her books, here’s the virtual places she hangs out: