Saturday, November 17, 2018

0 Mary Crockett, author of HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED, on writing a book born of rage and grief

We're thrilled to have Mary Crockett with us to share more about her latest novel, HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED.

Mary, what was your inspiration for writing HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED?

This wasn't a book I sought to write. I was hard at work on an entirely different manuscript when this story overtook me. I had read in the paper about a lost girl who was found, days later, dead. The brutality of her murder, the senseless destruction of her life, left me outraged and grieving. Worst of all, I had seen equally horrific events play out in newsprint a dozen times before with different names and details. And I knew I would read of such horrors again.

That story broke something in me. So I did what I do when I'm broken. I cried, consumed junk food, and then picked up my notebook and pen.

Writing this book was something of an act of healing for me. I had no physical connection to the story in the newspaper--except as a fellow human being, and I do believe we're all ultimately connected. And yet, that sort of violence is so hurtful, not only to the families it directly impacts, but to all the people who live in its periphery. I tried to show in HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED the way a violent act ripples out into a community and creates a fog of violence that shapes how young women see their world, their choices, and their potential.

Even though this book was born out of rage and grief, I am happy with it. It feels weird to say that, but I am. I love the girls in this book. And some of the boys. The parents and teachers. I care about them, and I love seeing how they work to put together lives worth living in face of senseless violence. They work to find healing--and joy, even! They are, to my mind, the heroes of their own lives--and I loved telling their stories.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I hope HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED would appeal to people who love books with a lot of heart... books that look at real issues facing teen girls... books that are about the power of friendship in helping us heal... books that show the world that girls they can face grief and guilt and come out as better people on the other side.

What do you hope readers will take away from HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED?

I wrote this for the girls everywhere who have to deal daily with the knowledge that there are men in this world who, given the chance, would hurt them for no other reason than their own sick gratification. It's a horrific realization--and it's one that I think many girls eventually come to.

I hope those girls read HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED, and that they don't feel so alone. I hope they find in these pages a friend to support them, a voice to speak with them, and a place where they can work through some of what they've experienced of pain or grief in their own lives.

I also want them to take away hope, and laughter, and all the good that makes life worth living.

That's a pretty big wish, I realize, but I'm putting it out there all the same.

What are you working on now?

I just started a new job teaching creative writing full-time at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, so right now, I'm writing lesson plans and course schedules and emails to students! I am looking forward to summer, though, when I intend to wear my keyboard out with a new story that's been rumbling in me for several years. I don't want to say too much about it, but it's a very personal story--one that's very close to my heart--and I'm writing it primarily in verse, which somehow took me by surprise!


How She Died, How I Lived
by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 11/13/2018

Girl in Pieces meets The Way I Used to Be in this poignant and thought-provoking novel about a girl who must overcome her survivor's guilt after a fellow classmate is brutally murdered. 

I was one of five. The five girls Kyle texted that day. The girls it could have been. Only Jamie--beautiful, saintly Jamie--was kind enough to respond. And it got her killed.

On the eve of Kyle's sentencing a year after Jamie's death, all the other "chosen ones" are coping in various ways. But our tenacious narrator is full of anger, stuck somewhere between the horrifying past and the unknown future as she tries to piece together why she gets to live, while Jamie is dead.

Now she finds herself drawn to Charlie, Jamie's boyfriend--knowing all the while that their relationship will always be haunted by what-ifs and why-nots. Is hope possible in the face of such violence? Is forgiveness? How do you go on living when you know it could have been you instead?

Mary Crockett has crafted a powerful novel—equally heart-wrenching and hopeful—about the everyday violence that can forever change a life.

Purchase How She Died, How I Lived at Amazon
Purchase How She Died, How I Lived at IndieBound
View How She Died, How I Lived on Goodreads


A native of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Mary grew up as the youngest of six children in a family of misfits. She has worked as everything from a history museum director to a toilet seat hand model.

In her other life, she's an award-winning poet and teaches creative writing at Roanoke College in Virginia.


Have you had a chance to read HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED yet? Do stories in the news inspire your writing? Does writing help you when you feel broken? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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