[Note: In this farewell tribute (which continues through tomorrow) to The Debutante Class of 09, authors/friends may begin to sound familiar, particularly YA novelist Katie Alender. Deb Katie has been mentioned frequently on The Divining Wand -- a site she helped to build -- for several reasons, yet it's her writing that truly earns a toast.]
Having been a daily guest at The Debutante Ball for its first two seasons, Katie Alender
shared the joy and excitement of other authors’ debuts. Yet this season Katie is a Deb and tomorrow — April 21, 2009 — will be her turn to take a bow and be celebrated when her Young Adult novel, Bad Girls Don’t Die, hits bookstore shelves or ships from your favorite online retailer.
Imagine what an added thrill this Debutante must feel by following in the tradition and legacy of the Ball’s Founders! In fact in her first post, My dog ate my pearls, by Deb Katie, she acknowledges Mia King’s Good Things and Sweet Life even before introducing herself as a “…hopeless homebody.” But please do not be fooled by Deb Katie’s self-effacing description for, in truth, she’s a multi-talented and ever-curious dynamo who brings passion to every one of her eclectic interests/loves.
Consider, for example, that she began the first draft of Bad Girls Don’t Die in 2002 and, over the next couple of years, she revised it when there was time or when inspiration hit. In 2006 Deb Katie was ready to make her statement and ended up selling the book by the end of the year. As she notes: “A lot of people say they have two “‘practice’” books hidden in a drawer. For me, this was the practice book! I just kept hammering away it it until it was good enough.”
What was so important about this story to keep Deb Katie writing? Well, although the tale has certainly evolved from its original “evil ghost” action thriller, the message has remained constant. It’s a book about strong teenage females who have their own problems and find their own solutions, doing so without being dependent and reliant on males. The author’s heroine, Alexis, figures out that she has the strength and intelligence to not only fight her own battles but to be victorious…not that it’s easy, of course.
Here a Synopsis of Bad Girls Don’t Die:
“When 15-year-old Alexis Warren suspects that her younger sister Kasey’s strange behavior is more than just angst, she thinks she can handle it on her own. But creepy parlor tricks are just the beginning, and it soon seems that Kasey may actually be living out the violent legacy of the Warrens’ gothic home. Alexis is forced to seek out the help of her arch-rival, cheerleader queen, Megan Wiley. Working together, they’re the only ones who can save Kasey. But what if the green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore?”
And here is a sensational Bad Girls Don’t Die Book Trailer
If THAT scared you, wait until you read the book! Seriously though, having read an Advanced Reader Copy, I’ll tell you that Deb Katie’s writing creates as much realistic magic as that video does, with her words conjuring up mental images that reel into scene after scene. When reading a book, especially a novel, I usually read word-by-word since that’s how the author painstakingly wrote it. But that was impossible to do with Bad Girls Don’t Die. Simply put, the book is a visual, rollercoaster ride that you cannot stop…nor do you want to!
In subtle and not so subtle ways, the plot revolves around how everyone has a personal battle to conquer. For Alexis the battle was loneliness and she convinced herself she simply didn’t belong. Does that sound like teenage angst? It might have been except the author doesn’t allow her heroine to wallow. Instead Alexis rationalizes that the reasons she had to act out were good enough to justify her actions. No this is not a bad girl, but she is defensive and judgmental. And confronting that underlying issue provides her with greater strength, understanding as well as — most importantly –trust.
Ironically, Deb Katie accepts and embraces the fact that readers will judge her book from their own POV and she addresses this in the January 20, 2009 post, The magic of someone else’s eyes, by Deb Katie. What a terrific, optimistic perspective! And what a smart move to seek out her target audience online, provide them with ARCS, and have them review the novel. Visit the writer’s Reviews page to read Praise for Bad Girls Don’t Die, most from teen literary sites!
While delighted with these reviews, this writer has been surprised that readers have literally been scared by the story and “consider the ending to be a bit of a twist.” After all it was never her intention to write a mystery. What Deb Katie did want her writing to do was…remind people that things aren’t always what they seem. And if knowing that makes one teen be nice to another teen somewhere on the other side of the country, what a difference for those two young adults and possibly their futures.
Also Bad Girls Don’t Die is rated PG — a conscious commitment on the author’s part to avoid the issues of sex, drugs, and cell phone tapes. She knows that a lot of teens are dealing with these subjects, but there may be just as many who don’t deal with those things every single day. Why then add to the media hype, especially when Alexis has more than enough to contend with?
Layered with honest and revealing intimacy, this “ghost story” novel exposes one teen’s demon(s). Yet as innocent as it is scary, the author’s empathetic writing comes down to trusting and protecting the people we care about most. Of course you can gift Bad Girls Don’t Die to your daughter, niece, babysitter AND don’t forget yourself. For you will not only be entertained by Debutante Katie Alender, you also will likely remember the importance of listening to young adults — something to cherish and enjoy!
Having had a book published this year is a dream come true for Katie Alender and her fellow Debs, but what about next year and the next dream? Well this is what Katie shares:
“My next dream, aside from finishing book 2 and having it be well-received, is to really settle into the life of a writer. Right now, I still feel like I’m playing at it, to some degree. I want to really make my office into my ideal space, learn how to manage my time better, and continue to devote attention to treating my body better through diet and exercise. I’ve had the experience in the past of shutting down every other aspect of my life to get a book written, and I can see clearly that it’s not ideal or sustainable to live that way. So I’m going to be pursuing balance–between writing, marketing, staying in touch with family and friends, managing my household (and myself)! I have a feeling this little dream will be one of those lifelong tasks.”