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  • Writer's picture Kathy Cassel

Choose Hope (Or, Why I Write What I Do)

Updated: 6 days ago

My first YA novel was Freerunner. It was a tough story to write. I wanted to cover the issue of molestation, but in a way that would be appropriate for preteens as well as teens. It's not graphic and no description of what was done to Kia. But at the same time, teens will get the idea.

I had been reading a lot of YA fiction when I wrote it. But those books, while entertaining, were lacking something. Hope.

Here's part of an interview I did at the time:

Why choose the genre you are writing?

I love YA books, but most of the books I was checking out from the library had themes of depression, suicide, death and so on. I quickly realized the books didn’t offer any real answers or hope, and I felt a strong call to switch from devotion books to fiction that would reach teens with the message that no matter what has happened in their lives God has a plan for them. There is always hope. And there is healing. If they walk away from the story with any sense of hope or that God cares, then my book has succeeded in its mission. But to keep them reading, I try to create interesting characters and add action and a little suspense to each story.

Why fiction instead of non-fiction?

I believe in the healing power of story. My stories are issue-based. If the reader isn’t going through the same thing as my main character, then it can simply be an escape to another place for a while. If they are facing that issue, the story gives the reader a character to relate to and lets her know she is not alone. It’s also a springboard to discuss what is happening in the reader’s life. My goal is that Freerunner will be a good resource for girls who have been molested or worst. My goal is that by reading the book they will find the courage to speak out and get help.

Fiction is a great healer. And there are a few things I aim for in each story.

  • Realistic characters the reader can relate to.

  • An interesting story world.

  • Action and a bit of suspense.

  • A low word count so reluctant readers might pick it up and read it.

  • Hope

  • A sense that God has a special plan for each person no matter what has happened in the past

Here is the back cover copy for Freerunner.

Set against the backdrop of the sport of freerunning, Kia must decide whether she will continue running or face her past abuser in order to save another child.

Night is Kia’s favorite time, when she freeruns to outdistance the memories of abuse she suffered as a young child. But when former reality television star Terrence Jones arrives at their school as the new head track coach, things begin to change in unpredictable ways. Kia tries out for the team to fit in, but just as she’s gaining a new sense of normal, her abuser steps back into her life. Not only that, but being on the track team causes even more turmoil. Why does the assistant coach, Cassandra Clark, dislike Terrence Jones so much, and even more troubling, why does Coach Clark dislike her so much? As the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, Kia realizes she has to choose between running from her past or saving a child from the same sort of abuse she suffered. But will she have the courage to do so?

Freerunner, Catching Hope, and A Thousand Lies are all available in print, kindle, and audible. Please consider them for summer reading or listening.

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