Amy, a sixteen-year-old recovering from an abusive relationship, moves to the country to start a new life with her aunt–all she wants is for everything to be different. In the clearing at the back of Aunt Mae’s property, she makes an amazing discovery—Henry, a boy stuck in the endless summer of 1944. Henry and his world become Amy’s refuge and she begins to learn that some moments are worth savoring. But when the past and present come crashing together, both of them must find the courage to face what is meant to be, even if it means losing each other forever.
Who is your favorite character from The Clearing?
That’s a hard one to pick, but I loved writing Aunt Mae.
Why did you choose to make The Clearing revolve around Amy and Henry as a boy stuck in 1944?
I’ve always been fascinated with “The Greatest Generation,” those people who lived through WWII.
Amy is a very unique character in The Clearing. Is she based on any real-life person?
Amy is every girl. She’s a character composed of many people, including myself.
Personally, what's your opinion on abusive relationships such as Amy's with her ex-boyfriend?
Often, women and girls feel pressured to stay with emotionally and physically abusive partners. It takes real strength and courage to break away and begin your life again.
What was the message that you tried to get across to your readers with The Clearing?
I think The Clearing’s message is that you can begin anew after your life implodes. That even in the midst of collapse and heartbreak there is hope.
The premise and concept of The Clearing is quite unique. How did the idea bloom? I was inspired to write The Clearing because I moved to a small town in the North Cascades, like Amy did, where nothing was what I expected it to be. It brought me to writing though, and every day as I sat as my desk, I gazed out a sliding glass window toward my neighbor's forty acre field. At the back of the property was a red barn with cows and horses gazing in front. Some days, the mist on that field got so thick the barn would disappear. I would wonder about what was "really" on the other side of that mist, and then one day, Henry came walking out. Amy was a harder character to write, but after suffering a life implosion that brought me back to the city a single girl, older and wiser, I knew what her journey had to be.
The cover is really very well done. Did you have any input in it?
The cover artist did a beautiful job. My editor, agent, and I all had suggestions, but it was the artist’s vision that really brought the cover to life.
What's the most interesting thing a reader has ever said to you?
I get lots of interesting letters from readers. Often they are writing to tell me how they connected to the story, which always interests me.
What’s up next for you book-wise?
My next book is WHEREVER YOU GO, which comes out from Harcourt in Fall 2011. It’s about a girl caring for her grandfather with Alzheimer’s and the ghost that haunts them both.
Book you've faked reading:
Moby Dick – I only read half of it in college, but I did make up for that by re-reading a few years ago.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I buy every book for the cover! (And the first page.)
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks for doing the interview, Regie.