Sunday, November 1, 2015

0 J.C. Carleson, author of PLACEBO JUNKIES, on connecting the dots between a known beginning and end

We're thrilled to have J.C. Carleson here to share more about her latest novel PLACEBO JUNKIES.

J.C., how long did you work on PLACEBO JUNKIES?

I spent a year writing it, but much of the last few months was tinkering on a fairly small scale to make sure that there was internal consistency and logic – there was much swapping around of chapters and elements, which was a first for me. I knew all along where I wanted to start and how I wanted Audie’s story to end, but it took me an excruciatingly long (and angst-ridden) time to figure out how I was going to connect the dots.

What do you hope readers will take away from PLACEBO JUNKIES?

As quite a few readers and reviewers have already pointed out, the book can be a bit of a riddle. I intentionally wrote it in such a way that there can be multiple interpretations of certain scenes and actions. For readers who like a sense of certainty and finality, this may be slightly maddening. But my hope is that readers can bring their own interpretations and experiences and biases into play to form their own conclusions. I’d absolutely love to be a fly on the wall while readers debated their different interpretations of various actions!

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I need substantial chunks of absolute solitude to write, which is tough to manage with young children. I have to carefully manage and orchestrate times that I can devote exclusively to writing. I’d love to be more spontaneous in my work habits, but I have a terrible habit of declaring myself too distracted to write when anything interrupts my flow. I don’t listen to music while I write, but I do create soundtracks that I use when I’m brainstorming.


Placebo Junkies by J.C. Carleson
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 10/27/2015

Going Bovine meets Trainspotting in this gritty portrait of at-risk teens gaming the prescription drug trial system.

Meet Audie: Professional lab rat. Guinea pig. Serial human test subject. For Audie and her friends, “volunteering” for pharmaceutical drug trials means a quick fix and easy cash. Sure, there’s the occasional nasty side effect, but Audie’s got things under control. If Monday’s pill causes a rash, Tuesday’s ointment usually clears it right up. Wednesday’s injection soothes the sting from Tuesday’s “cure,” and Thursday’s procedure makes her forget all about Wednesday’s headache. By the time Friday rolls around, there’s plenty of cash in hand and perhaps even a slot in a government-funded psilocybin study, because WEEKEND!

But the best fix of all is her boyfriend, Dylan, whose terminal illness just makes them even more compatible. He’s turning eighteen soon, so Audie is saving up to make it an unforgettable birthday. That means more drug trials than ever before, but Dylan is worth it. No pain, no gain, Audie tells herself as the pills wear away at her body and mind. No pain, no gain, she repeats as her grip on reality starts to slide….

Raw and irreverent, Placebo Junkies will captivate readers until the very end, when author J. C. Carleson leans in for a final twist of the knife.

Purchase Placebo Junkies at Amazon
Purchase Placebo Junkies at IndieBound
View Placebo Junkies on Goodreads


J.C. Carleson never intended to be an author. Although she was always a proficient writer of term papers, reports, and other necessary but mundane documents, she didn't consider herself cut out for the creative life.

Nearly a decade as an officer in the CIA's clandestine service changed that.

With her head now brimming with stories of intrigue, scandal, and exotic locales, Carleson was finally ready to give writing a shot. Her fiction and non-fiction works alike tap into her unique experiences, drawing readers into the highly charged, real world of espionage.

Have you had a chance to read PLACEBO JUNKIES yet? Do you enjoy books that allow for various interpretations? Do you know the beginning and the end when you start writing a novel?

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Lisa, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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