by Roger Zotti
This just in: On July 8, summer officially started for book lovers when, at the Janet Carlson Calvert Library, Franklin, the 2010 Connecticut Authors Trail was launched. Nineteen authors will be traveling the trail this summer. The finale takes place at Mohegan Sun’s Cabaret Theater, September 23. (Visit http://sites.google.com/site/ctauthortrail2010 for more specifics.)
On July 13, Amanda Marrone appeared at the Preston Public Library. Though Amanda’s novels – Devoured, Uninvited, and Revealers – are aimed at teens, anyone who likes clear and stirring storytelling, along with an occasional fright, will enjoy them. All of her characters, she explained, “just want to fit in and belong, given the unique situations I thrown them into.”
Consider Devoured (Simon Pulse). Shortly after we meet Megan Scones, the main character, her twin sister Remy comes on the scene. Remy, killed in a car accident nine years ago, is – yes – a ghost, a ghost with whom Megan sees and converses.
Since the accident, Megan’s father has been in a “persistent vegetative state” at a local nursing home. As Remy’s behavior becomes increasingly alarming, Megan discovers her sister is trying to tell her something. Is it a warning? If it is, of what is Megan being warned? Enter Luke, a “hot guy… fabulous biceps,” whose sister Kayla disappeared a year ago. Megan learns she and Luke have something in common and it’s not only that they’re teenagers: Like her, Luke sees ghosts.
Amanda, who grew up on Long Island and now lives in Connecticut, is correct when she said her books “are fast-paced, escapist fun.” She added, “I try to have a deeper thread running through them.” In Devoured, the deeper thread involves Megan, her mother, and the secret her mother has been hiding about her husband’s wishes.
Ray Bradbury and Stephen King are two of Amanda’s biggest literary influences. One reason is that they “put a macabre twist on the ordinary.” They also place “every day people in extraordinary [and often paranormal] situations.”
Amanda’s stories all have, she explained, “a paranormal twist, wherein even a Fairy Tale themed amusement park [in Devoured] holds a dark secret. Reading Bradbury and King helped me look for the dark underbelly of the mundane.”
The best advice Amanda ever received about writing is “to have someone else read your work before sending it out – someone other than your mother.” The worst advice is to be “wary of anyone who says you have to write a certain way to succeed. What works for one writer won’t necessarily work for another.”
From the opening sentence, Devoured hooks the reader. The reason is that Amanda has mastered the technique of “what’s next?” With their strong narratives, her books propel you forward because you want to learn what’s going to happen to the characters she has so expertly created.
Amanda has written a series of books for middle grade students, too. For more information about her and her works, go to www.amandamarrone.com.