Katie, what scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
There’s a scene in HERETICS ANONYMOUS that takes place at a pro-chastity school assembly, and that one was hard to write because I had zero personal experience with abstinence-only sex ed. My high school was secular, public, and liberal to the point of basically being a Portlandia sketch. As research, I watched a lot of abstinence presentations on YouTube, which I don’t recommend as a life choice, but I do think the scene turned out funny.
What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or vice versa?
On the YA side: if readers are into the feminism, religion, and religious feminism, they’d love BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy McCullough. I can’t say enough good things about her beautiful, harrowing verse novel.
On the very-much-not YA side: I know not everyone has a favorite theologian, but I do, and her name is Elizabeth Johnson. Anyone looking for an interpretation of the Bible that lifts up women, people of color, and LGBT+ people should check out QUEST FOR A LIVING GOD and SHE WHO IS.
How long did you work on HERETICS ANONYMOUS?
I wrote the first words in July 2013. It took me almost three years to finish the first draft, but thankfully, things moved more quickly after that! I was 22 when I started HERETICS ANONYMOUS, and I’ll turn 28 the week after it releases. In a lot of ways, I feel like I grew up with this book.
What do you hope readers will take away from HERETICS ANONYMOUS?
That belief is complicated, no matter what you do believe in and what you don’t. That it’s okay question your beliefs, to not be sure, or to change your mind. That there’s more to another person’s faith than you might see at first glance, and that there’s probably more to that person, too.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I usually write on my couch, usually with coffee within arm’s reach, and I only listen to Stravinsky concertos.
I’m totally kidding. It’s Green Day. I only listen to Green Day while writing because I’m desperately clinging to the halcyon days of 2004, a simpler era when Von Dutch trucker hats were cool.
Again, kidding. It’s actually because I wrote my very first (terrible) YA book while listening to American Idiot on my Sony Discman, and now that’s the only thing that gets me in the mood to write. It’s sort of a pop punk Pavlov’s dog situation.
ABOUT THE BOOKHeretics Anonymous
by Katie Henry
Katherine Tegen Books
When Michael walks through the doors of Catholic school, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow atheist at that. Only this girl, Lucy, isn’t just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.
Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism.
Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies one stunt at a time. But when Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katie Henry is a writer living and working in New York City. She received her BFA in dramatic writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a published playwright, specializing in theater for young audiences. Her plays have been performed by high schools and community organizations in over thirty states. Heretics Anonymous is her first novel. You can find her online at www.katiehenrywrites.com.
Have you had a chance to read HERETICS ANONYMOUS yet? What kind of YouTube videos have you watched for book research? Does certain music put you in the writing mood? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
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