I am a damaged person.
My characters are damaged...
It takes one to know one.
In Dec. 2009, Publisher’s Weekly said of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, “Damaged people inhabit this debut novel: people who have been struck by lightning as well as those who have lost loved ones from death, divorce, drinking, or duplicity. Young-Stone tells parallel stories that hurdle storm after storm headlong into one another... [She] is a very fine writer who has created a host of endearing losers—young, old, literate, and simple, all full of longing. What she does best is portray the incredulousness of the unlucky.”
"I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth…” As a matter of fact, I used to skip class in elementary school, hiding in the school’s library or staying at home (latch-key kid) to write stories. In high school, I was a Goth girl, punk rocker, skipping school to hang out in the city, to go see bands like Gwar and The Butthole Surfers: drums on fire and topless dancers. I experienced a lot of craziness from a very young age. With the craziness, a lot of scary things, damaging things, happened to me.
I think you have to own it: the damage and the madness. I think you gotta take hold of it so that it doesn’t take hold of you. I think you have to use it. I put it down on paper and count myself a survivor. I’m like my characters. I came out all right in the end. Better than all right, really.
I write what I know. I know crazy. As the Hatter said, “All the Best People Are Mad.”
|I have no regrets. Because of the madness, I have a lot to share. Because of the darkness, I can find goodness and tenderness in the most desperate people.|
Sometimes what I write is “too dark,” and I have to revise. Just the same, I need to write it down. I need to put my experiences on paper. Then, it’s all right to scrape away the raw things. I also need to write fiction and NOT non-fiction because for me, it’s too scary to “tell all.” I like to infuse my characters with my own emotions and experiences. I like to inhabit and bring them to life, but not me. Not all of me. It’s too scary to put that on the page.
With my next book, Above Us Only Sky, I drew from a myriad of experiences, but one
of the driving forces was my love for my son, and my
fear of what the world might do with him.
When I was pregnant with him, I started sponsoring a little girl in
Ecuador. I couldn't "change the channel" anymore. I couldn't imagine a parent watching her child go hungry. All of the sudden, it was too close to home. Now, I sponsor two children. Having taught The Diary of Anne Frank to
middle-schoolers for four years, I was haunted by Anne's plight, by the Holocaust. I pray that my son never knows starvation or
war. I wish that no one knew
hunger or war. But so many people have, and so many still do. These are some of the many things that compel me and drive my storytelling.
|Release Day, April 13, 2010 (my sweet boy)|
Above Us Only Sky is a novel about two girls born with wings, but at the simplest level, it’s about survival. “Without a survivor, there’s no one to tell the story.” In my upcoming novel, I’m one of the survivors. I’m telling the story for two WWII survivors, for the Baltic countries, for oppressed regions around the world, and for the children, our children, AND with the hope that one day the wars will stop, and no one will have to know fear, hunger and pain. Thank you for reading!
Michele Young-Stone is the author of the debut THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS (Crown, 2010).
Her next novel, ABOVE US ONLY SKY (Simon & Schuster), will be released in early 2015. She has a third novel, PERFECT BIRDS, under contract with Simon & Schuster. Michele is currently at work on a fourth novel, as yet untitled.
When Michele isn’t writing, she is spending time with her family, crafting, painting, or doing Zumba. She’s not a good sleeper.
COMING 2015 Above Us Only Sky; Early reviews from fellow novelists: Lydia Netzer, Heidi Durrow, and Tracy Guzeman.
"Above Us Only Sky is a raw, beautiful, unforgettable book that folds unfathomable horrors and
"Rich with themes of love and loss, Young-Stone has spun a beautiful tale on the cusp of magical realism, but with 100% pure magical prose. …Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down." Heidi Durrow, New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (Algonquin Books)
“The beautiful prose in Michele Young-Stone’s Above Us Only Sky flies off the page. A stirring meditation on resilience, the ties that bind us to our past, and what it means to have wings.”—Tracy Guzeman, author of The Gravity of Birds