Half in Love with Death
by Emily Ross
Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: December 18th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
It's the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline's life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She's invisible to her parents, who can't stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister's older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline's desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her.
Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess's disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we'll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again.
Inspired by the disturbing case of Charles Schmid, ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson’, Half in Love with Death is a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.
Thinking back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you have learned as a writer from then to now?
The most important thing I’ve learned is how much other people can help you with your writing. When I first started writing I filled notebooks with barely legible hand-written stories mostly about my broken heart, and never showed them to anyone. I was terrified at the thought of getting critiques from actual living human beings. But when I finally took my first writing workshop some cool things happened: people liked my work, I got good advice on how to improve it, and made new friends.
Since then I’ve been in many workshops and have learned how to give and take constructive feedback (as opposed to the kind that makes you want to jump off a bridge), what feedback to ignore (an important skill if you ever want to finish anything), and made more friends. But I didn’t realize how much help I could get from other writers until I tried to write a novel. I’d already written short stories and figured a novel was just a longer short story—right? Wrong.
I’d been working on Half in Love with Death for seven years and was as tangled up in it as a cat with a yarn ball, when I found out about the yearlong intensive Novel Incubator program. In Novel Incubator you receive feedback on your entire novel not once but twice, and learn about the craft of novel writing. It sounded like just what I needed but to apply I needed a finished draft. Amazingly, after seven years I still didn’t have one, and I literally wrote the last 60 pages of my novel in three weeks so I could apply. I’m glad I did!
I learned more about how to write a novel from my Novel Incubator instructors than I had since I first scribbled stories in a notebook. And I learned from the other people in the class as well. We learned from each other’s triumphs and mistakes. We supported each other when we were struggling with things like revision, and celebrated our successes. By the end of the program I had a near final draft, and had gained a community of lifelong writing friends.
Writing a novel requires me to spend a lot of time alone with my words. But learning from other people has made me a better writer, and a happier one. I’m grateful for that!
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Emily Ross's YA mystery/thriller HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH is forthcoming from Merit Press(12/2015). She received a 2014 MCC Artist Fellowship finalist award for fiction, and is a graduate of Grub Street's Novel Incubator program. When not writing she works as a web developer and is the mother of two millennials. Find out more at http://www.emilyrosswrites.com/ or https://twitter.com/emilyross816.