Welcome to FIVE QUESTIONS. In this feature on my blog, you'll learn about new and exciting books from the author's themselves. You'll hear about the book, their characters, the inspiration behind the book, and other insider details. All through five simple questions.
Today, we are hearing from Kathleen Fine about her new novel GIRL ON TRIAL, which is available now.
What is your new book about?
My new book is about a 16-year-old girl who is accused of the manslaughter of a family of four. Emily is one of the youngest females to be accused of a crime so heinous, making this the nation’s biggest trial of the year. Emily has struggled to fit in at school, and this year, she craves popularity more than ever. But on Emily’s first day of 11th grade, she meets a popular new friend, Hannah, which shifts Emily’s status in with the cool crowd. Her new friendship introduces Emily to drugs, drinking, and Emily starts making choices she normally wouldn’t make. In just five months’ time, we learn that Emily becomes known by the media as Keller the Killer, being accused of causing the deaths of four family members, including young children. It’s up to the reader to uncover whether she will be charged of being guilty or not.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
I’ve had the premise of this novel in my head for the past fifteen years or so. I started to experiment with alcohol at an early age and so understand firsthand the effects that peer pressure can have on a teenage girl. When I think back to those years, I sometimes wonder: what if? What if I had made this choice or that decision? There were so many terrible outcomes that could have occurred in my life. I wanted to write this novel to show my readers a “what if.”
What was the hardest scene to write?
Probably the sexual assault scene was the most difficult to write. I wanted to be true to the story, since I think it is such an important issue, but was worried about triggering or retraumatizing any readers who are survivors. I tried to portray this sensitive topic with caution and purpose so my audience would have a safe reading experience.
What's the most interesting or unusual thing you learned while researching for this book?
I had to research a lot of Maryland laws and so spoke to a prosecutor in the Homicide division of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. I also had to research the procedures of manslaughter trials, specifically for a young adult being tried as an adult. I learned a lot about the procedures during a juvenile/adult trial from arrest to verdict!
Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one? (What makes your book stand out from the rest?)
I wanted to write this novel to show readers a “what if.” What if you caved into peer pressure and made the one bad decision that could alter your future forever? As social media is a huge aspect of teenager's self-esteem and decision making today, this novel will help demonstrate the harm in following the crowd. I want my readers to come out of this story with the lingering big question: Does doing one bad thing make you a bad person? Some choices we make can never be taken back. I hope that teens who read this think twice before following a crowd and stand firmly with what they know is right in their heart.
GIRL ON TRIAL is available now, and can be purchased at the following retailers.
Bookshop.org - Supporting Local Bookstores