Author: Sarah Skilton
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: March 2013
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
Imogen freezes during a hold up and blames herself for the gunman’s death. She should have been able to do something, right? She is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Guilt, blame and aggression, as well as a drive to prove herself once again, leads Imogent through a journey of self discovery and forgiveness.
I couldn’t put this book down.
Imogen is strong, physically and mentally. So when she finds herself frozen during a hold up, of course she blames herself. She has prepared her whole life for situations like this, so why does she find herself totally at a loss when it actually happens?
I loved Imogen’s journey. Her complex emotions were so real and rich, I felt like I knew her and could sympathize with her struggles. The anger she keeps hidden under the surface and her quest for normality are bittersweet as she grapples with who she was before the incident and who she wants to be from now on. She makes mistakes, she judges people harshly. I liked all these things because it made her a real person.
The story line involving her and her family added a depth to Imogen and her back story.
And Ricky is just sweet. Thank you Sarah Skilton for writing a boy who is supportive, sweet, friendly and still swoon worthy. I liked how their relationship developed, organically. Nothing is rushed or forced and it is obvious why these two characters are drawn to each other.
Overall, a strong debut with an emotional story.
Interview with Sarah Skilton!
Thanks so much for having me here at the Windy Pages, Kimberly! I really appreciate it!
What inspired you to become a writer?
When I was around 9, I wrote a letter to James Howe (Bunnicula) and he wrote back! He had a form letter for fans, but he also included a personalized letter. In the form letter, he said that as an author, you can look at your story and characters and know, “This exists because I made it exist.” That’s stuck with me for years.
What was the last book you read?
Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward, a tag-team novel in which real-life exes write alternate chapters of a murder mystery (and disagree about the book’s direction in emails to one another, which we’re privy to). It was lots of fun. This week I finally started 11/22/63 by Stephen King, which is terrific so far.
What sparked the idea of your book?
I love X-Men and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I wanted to write about a girl who had the “real world” equivalent of superpowers, which I viewed as martial arts, and then I wanted to show how she’d cope if the one thing that defined her was taken away.
Imogen is an experienced Tae Kwon Do fighter. What research did you do in order to write about Tae Kwon Do and her fighting?
I’m a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and Hap Ki Do, though I haven’t studied in years. Luckily, I kept all my old notebooks, binders, calendars, and handouts, so I was able to refer to them a lot while writing.
What are your favorite things about Imogen?
She’s funny, she’s tough, she’s true to her values, and she expects a lot from herself.
Imogen is a complex character, and her relationships with her parents, brother and friends are complicated. What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing the relationships in your novel?
From the opening page, we know she’s annoyed with her brother and her former friend, Shelly, and then we also learn pretty early on that she’s upset about her dad’s diabetes, too. I personally think her anger and frustration make sense, but of course I would say that; I wrote her ;) I ended up toning down some of her narration, which I believe was the right move, but I didn’t want to gloss over her anger too much, so it was a balancing act.
I think the story shows her at a crisis point, and then, having to deal with the diner robbery amidst her relationship issues makes everything more difficult for her (and more difficult for the people in her life, too!)
How do you like your potato?
Baked, with either cheese and salsa or plain with butter. Mmm.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Wildlife photographer or psychotherapist. Kind of a leap, eh?
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Hang out with my husband and our son, who is 15 months old. I also watch old movies, go on walks, and grab dinner with friends.
What is one thing you would tell aspiring writers?
Write the book you would most love to read.
What are you working on now?
I just turned in my line edits for HIGH AND DRY, my next YA book for Abrams/Amulet. It comes out Spring 2014 and it’s a mystery involving a teenage soccer player. Like with BRUISED, there is action and some romance. This time my narrator’s a boy, though, which has been really cool to write.
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