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  • Writer's picture Kathy Cassel

Interview with YA author Monica Mynk

Today we are "talking" with Monica Mynk, author of the Young Adult dystopian novel Cavernous.

Monica is a high school science teacher and soccer mom as well as being an author. She considers herself a 100% total nerd.

Her early years were spent reading books with her mother, acting out plays with her brother and sister, climbing in corncribs, and helping her dad on the farm.

About Cavernous:

How did you choose the title?

It came about from the idea of being "filled" with Scripture, and that one who is devoid of scripture is completely empty. I also wanted to show a girl broken down to the deepest part of her soul, and have her undergo a metamorphosis to become a true soldier for Christ. The second book is Cocooned, where she learns how to take that stand, and the third is Conceded, which is where she fully submits herself to God's will.

How would you describe the book to someone in a text message?

In a divided America, an extremist leader rewrites the Bible to suit his whim. He has one weakness--his daughter, who's written the word of God on her heart.

Who is your main character and what problem does he/she face?

Callie Noland. Her mom goes missing, and she's abducted by a man claiming to be her father. He forces her to attend a military school in the newly-formed Alliance of American States. While there, she learns he's been elected to lead the new country, and she must stand by his side as First Daughter, which means she must publicly participate in blasphemous ceremonies or face imminent death. She knows the Bible, though, and feels compelled to stand up for the truth. Can she overcome her fear of death to make that stand?

What might draw someone to your character?

She's tenacious, determined, and steadfast.

What prompted you to write this book?

I worry that too many people get their Biblical knowledge from memes and social media today. If an extremist leader rewrote the Bible and presented it as truth, how many of us would know the difference?

What did you bring to the book from your own life?

I teach teenagers, so Callie is a blend of some of the better qualities of my favorite students. I wanted a strong, realistic character, and I hope she comes across that way.

What makes your book stand out from other books like it?

It was written to incite readers to dive into Scripture. My hope is that it will inspire young people and adults alike to read and memorize verses the way Callie did in the book. I tried hard to not make this preachy, but rather show it as a necessity to preserve what God’s given us.

What is one thing you learned from writing this book?

I needed to study editing techniques, ha ha. It was the first novel I wrote after actually learning the craft of writing, so I had to go back and rewrite a good part of it because of sagging middle, etc.

About Monica:

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be on Sesame Street

Do you still want to be that?

J Not so much. But I'd like to visit the set sometime.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I always liked writing, but started pursuing it in earnest when my best friend died of cancer a few years ago. I desperately needed a hobby and something to fill the time we'd spent texting back and forth and such. I never dreamed of pursuing it as a career until critique partners encouraged me to start submitting to contests and I placed in a few. I've been blessed with incredible encouragement.

What books have influenced you most?

Pretty much all of the Francine Rivers books, the Chronicles of Narnia, David Baldacci's Wish You Well, Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, and so many others.

What’s the most times you’ve read a book and why? Title?

I've read all the Harry Potter books several times. Not so much because I liked the all the stories, but because I wanted to learn to write like J.K Rowling. Usually I don't reread books, because I always have five or six on my "to-read" list.

What are three unusual things about you your readers might not know?

I have a nuclear degree and I teach high school science. So I'm a 100% total nerd.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Have children? LOL Seriously, when I was about 21, I drove to Chicago by myself and stayed the weekend. Hit every museum on Lakeshore Drive. It was amazing!

Do you have life philosophy?

My life philosophy changes with circumstance, but overall centers on having a positive contribution to the world. Right now, it's about becoming less in as many ways as I can. Like the song, less of self and more of Him.

What advice would you give a teen who wants to be a writer?

Write a little every day, and at some point when you can afford it, hire a real editor to look over a chapter or two. A poorly written story can be molded into beauty with enough revision. A story never written has no chance.

You can find out more about Monica and her books on her website

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