Interview with Robin Roe

Author Interview

Meet Robin Roe.

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Robin Roe has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s from Harvard. She counseled adolescents in Boston before she moved to Dallas to run a mentoring program for at-risk teens.

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Now… onto the interview!

How did your experience as a counselor shape and influence A List of Cages?
Working with children and teens who experienced trauma taught me a great deal about resilience, and this shaped A List of Cages.

A List of Cages reveals the power of friendship. Why do you think friendship, especially teenage friendship, is so important? As social creatures, we need companionship to survive, but we’re living in an age of loneliness. Friendship makes us stronger, giving us support to cope with the challenges of life. Perhaps just as importantly, friendship teaches us how to care for other people. This is especially valuable in adolescence because the bonds formed at this age can set the tone for the bonds we’ll have in the future.

Did mental illness or mental disorder give birth to anything in A List of Cages?
Julian, one of the main characters, has PTSD. I also have PTSD so I was able to write about this from my experience.

Kirkus Reviews commented, “A triumphant story about the power of friendship and of truly being seen.” What was it like to write a coming of age story that touches about some of the darker, dirtier aspects of growing up and finding yourself? It was actually very healing. We tend to be so hard on ourselves, but when we’re seeing some of our struggles through characters, we can be objective—and kind. Now that A List of Cages has been published, it’s been incredible to hear from so many readers.

 

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The Edge of Brilliance Promo + Guest Post + Giveaway

Blog Tour, Uncategorized

**Reader Advisory: This book contains strong language and also includes scenes involving drug use, rape, violence. This book also includes a frank exploration of mental illness and loss of autonomy.

the edge of brilliance cover.jpgThe Edge of Brilliance
by Susan Traugh
Genre: YA Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Release Date: July 19th 2016
Finch Books

Summary from Goodreads: 

Volatile and unstable, Amy stands at the precipice. Will she fall into the chaos and despair of insanity or ascend into brilliance and redemption?

Amy Miles is fifteen and crazy. Or, at least that’s her greatest fear. Her severe bipolar disorder, with its roller coaster manic and depressive episodes, is ruining her life. Yet in Amy’s mind it is accepting the pills and therapy—not the disease—that will brand her as ’crazy’.

When Amy lands in a residential psychiatric program, she befriends take-charge Mallory and the two create family and try to salvage the shards of their broken minds. There, Amy discovers that her illicit drug use has robbed her of her ability to dance and she is forced to weigh how hard she is willing to work to reclaim her lost talent and potential. But, despite a promising beginning, when Amy falls back into denial, the tragic consequences cannot be undone.

Amy is left to decide whether to give up altogether or accept her diagnosis and the tools she needs to battle her disease, to learn to dance again and forge a new and improved version of herself. Will she step up to the edge of her brilliance and shine?

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Buy Links: Amazon | Finch Books

 

Guest Post: Writing about mental illness

I love people with mental illness. Truth is—I’m surrounded by them!

When I married my husband, I thought he was a moody artist-type. By the time we discovered his mood swings were caused by bipolar disorder, we’d had three kids. My son has an anxiety disorder, my oldest daughter has Asperger’s and bipolar II, and my youngest daughter is severely bipolar I and is the model for ‘Amy’ in The Edge of Brilliance.

Not only does my entire family suffer from mental illness, but because birds-of-a-feather tend to flock together—everyone’s friends are also either mentally ill or are quirky individuals who live on society’s fringes.

But, I write about mental illness because that’s not all these people are. They’re complex, unique, funny, talented, intelligent, creative people, and, in the end, just like everybody else. And that’s what I want readers to understand. I want my readers to feel a full range of emotions as they step into the lives of Amy and her tribe and come away with an appreciation of them as wonderfully complex individuals who are more like them than not. I want readers to follow Amy’s journey and say to themselves, “Oh, I can relate to that—this could be me.” I want readers to see these characters as more similar than different and as much more magnificent than a label.

The Edge of Brilliance does address the issue of mental illness. But, first and foremost, it is the story of a teenaged girl who combats her challenges to find the hero within herself—and isn’t that just a universal story?

 

susan traugh.jpgAbout the Author
Award-winning author, Susan Traugh, has been writing for over thirty years. Her Daily Living Skills workbooks are used in classrooms all over the world and her stories have appeared in periodicals nationwide along with several stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul. With husband, Steven, Susan won Learning Magazine’s Teachers Choice Award for Mother Goose Brain Boost.
Now, Susan is venturing into the world of young adult fiction. Her latest novel, The Edge of Brilliance is an exploration into the heroes found within struggling young people. The manuscript was a finalist in the San Diego Book Awards.  Today, Susan lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and daughters, a cat, dog, fish and near her grown son who doesn’t visit enough.
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The Masked Truth Review

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

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The Masked Truth Review

By: Rae

 

“Everything’s going fine. At least, as fine as one might expect from a hostage negotiation.”

– Kelley Armstrong, The Masked Truth

 

Psychology meets its match in Kelley Armstrong’s newest standalone novel The Masked Truth. When a game is played without rules, it breaks the boundaries between black and white.

Riley Vasquez is a girl suffering from PTSD and crippling self-doubt. A simple babysitting job had turned into a nightmare when the parents of the little girl she was watching are brutally murdered downstairs as she hides upstairs. Hero and survivor become tag names for Riley after the ordeal. She hates the praise, the pity, and the encouragement. No one understands. It is time to move on. But who is Riley Vasquez, she doesn’t know anymore.

Max Cross has always been different. As a child he was a genius with a prospective future and could be anything he wanted. He had courage, ego, and friends. He had it all… that is until he decided to choke out the demon possessing his best friend. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, life altering mental illness, Max is stuck under the watchful, condescending eye of his mother who believes she knows best while simultaneously afraid of her “dangerous” son. The medicine helps, right?

Neither Max or Riley wanted to attend a therapy retreat at a place that resembled more of a prison than a place to find yourself. But after the insistence of their counselors, their parents drop them off and they find themselves stuck in a building without windows, creature comforts, phones, and locked doors. To add onto the torture, there are five other troubled teens with “issues” along for the ride. Riley and Max think maybe they can get through it, until men with guns burst into their group therapy session and start making demands. So much for a relaxing weekend.

Right from the start The Masked Truth took me as a hostage *pun intended* from the action packed scenes to the psychological turmoil that Riley and Max experience. Alternating perspectives, something I usually dislike, transitioned smoothly and really helped readers to connect to the plot. While I was sympathetic to Riley, I think she could have had a better emotional transition then she did. I wanted something more that seemed just out of reach. Meanwhile my heart was taken by Max. Confused and arrogant, Max had his life turned upside down and his thoughts, feelings, and self-doubt seemed so real. The language of this novel really hit home the realism of mental illness and how everyone is effected by a diagnosis. Then there was the hostage situation that amplified the emotion and the stakes. I wonder what the novel would have been like without the hostage subplot.

So in the end the plot twist, revelations, and how the story wraps up made me wish for a book two. Everything reached a conclusion but what about Max and Riley? What happens next?

 

 

To find out more about Kelley and her books, click here!