I am incredibly excited to be part of this years Debut Author Bash hosted by YA Reads. Today I am bringing you my final post promoting an amazing debut author and her incredible book!
For the grand finale I am bringing you a marvelous guest post written by the brilliant Karen Fortunati, author of The Weight of Zero. Check out what she wrote, along with her book and the giveaway below!
The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati
Expected Publication: October 11th 2016 by Delacorte Press
Number of Pages: 400 Pages
Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disorder, almost triumphed once; that was her first suicide attempt.
Being bipolar is forever. It never goes away. The med du jour might work right now, but Zero will be back for her. It’s only a matter of time.
And so, in an old ballet-shoe box, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its living death on her again. Before she goes, though, she starts a short bucket list.
The bucket list, the support of her family, new friends, and a new course of treatment all begin to lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. The problem is, her plan is already in place, and has been for so long that she might not be able to see a future beyond it.
This is a story of loss and grief and hope, and how some of the many shapes of love—maternal, romantic, and platonic—affect a young woman’s struggle with mental illness and the stigma of treatment. (goodreads.com)
Inspirations behind The Weight of Zero
and its characters
When The Weight of Zero begins, seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski has formulated a suicide plan. That’s how she first appeared in my head – lonely, ashamed and dreading the return of her bipolar depression that she’s named “Zero.” I knew immediately that Catherine would get help from people she never expected and that help, along with her inner strength, would aid in her struggle. I also knew in that first month of writing that Catherine would be inspired by a historical figure.
This idea of historical inspiration had made a huge impression on me well before I wrote Weight. What happened was this: after years of query rejection, I figured that this writing thing probably wasn’t going to pan out. So I went back to school for a graduate degree in American Studies. One of the first papers I wrote was on a work of art by Judy Chicago called The Dinner Party. I was pretty appalled by it. At first, the idea sounded intriguing: a triangular table set for thirty-nine significant women from Western history. It’s set on a white tile floor inscribed with the names of 999 women. What’s more, the place settings are made with materials and techniques used during the era when each woman lived. So it all sounded great until I read about the dishes, specifically the imagery and shape of the plates. You see, artist Judy Chicago crafted the plates using vaginal/butterfly imagery. I’m not kidding. I scoffed at this masterpiece of feminist art.
Until I went to see it at the Brooklyn Museum. (It’s on permanent display and if you have a chance to see it, go!) It is basically majestic. And it became even more so after I had done my research. Because I learned that Chicago suffered mindboggling discrimination as a young woman artist in the 1960s and ‘70s. Prejudice was rampant in museums and galleries and in the art schools and colleges, women were instructed to avoid sexual imagery, pale and pastel colors and delicate lines as well as girlie techniques like sewing, embroidery, ceramics and china painting.
|Taken from here.|
Chicago struggled. And specifically turned to women in history for consolation and inspiration. Yet her reading also infuriated her because she couldn’t comprehend how the many contributions of women had been omitted from mainstream culture. So The Dinner Party became Chicago’s personal history project as well as a defiant, in-your-face gesture to the male-dominated art world. She jubilantly employed the techniques, materials and sexual imagery that had been outlawed. And she kicked ass.
So in 2014 when I charged into writing Weight, I searched for a historical figure to inspire Catherine. My initial research focused on the D-Day Invasion and by complete luck, I found an article about the four women buried in the Normandy
|Taken from here.|
American Cemetery. Three of these women were from the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the first all female, all African-American unit to serve overseas. I studied up on the Six-Triple-Eight and their courage and perseverance astounded me. They suffered horrible prejudice especially in the 1940s because they were women and black and serving in a segregated military. And like so many accounts of women in general and during World War II, they remain basically unknown.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would create a character belonging to this unit and Private First Class Jane Talmadge is based on the real recollections of members of the Six-Triple-Eight. Through a history project much like Chicago’s, in The Weight of Zero, Catherine gains consolation and inspiration from Jane.
Like Catherine, I was tremendously inspired by the Six-Triple-Eight. I’m hopeful that the publication of Weight will further publicize their incredible story.
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About the Author
I’m a writer of contemporary, realistic YA. The subject of my first book, The Weight of Zero, is mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder, and it explores the shame, stigma and anxiety that often complicate the management of this chronic condition. The issue is personal to me having witnessed the impact of depression and bipolar disorder in relatives and friends. My goal was to write a story of hope for teens who struggle with mental illness.
My path to writing and publication was a long and indirect one. I graduated from the University of Scranton with an accounting degree and then got a law degree from Georgetown. After working as a lawyer for many years, I found myself growing interested and then fascinated with history, specifically the American Revolution. This fascination sparked the idea for a middle grade story so between family, dogs and a return to school (Trinity College for a master’s degree in American Studies), I threw myself into writing.
Success for that middle grade story never arrived. (To see my interview about that, click here.) But that was okay. Because another idea was brewing, one that moved me in a way my first story never had. About a girl who had to deal not only with the standard pressures and stress of high school but also a much heavier weight – a mental illness. The story would be about her struggle to come to terms with it. It became The Weight of Zero. (Taken from Karen's website)