Friday, November 6, 2015

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at ’89 Walls by Katie Pierson + Giveaway! (US only)

'89 Walls
Katie Pierson

College is not in the cards for Seth. He spends his minimum wage on groceries and fakes happiness to distract his mom from the MS they both know will kill her. It’s agony to carry around a frayed love note for a girl who’s both out of his league and beneath his dignity.

Quinn’s finishing high school on top. But that cynical, liberal guy in her social studies class makes her doubt her old assumptions. Challenging the rules now, though, would a) squander her last summer at home, b) antagonize her conservative dad, and c) make her a hypocrite.

Seth and Quinn’s passionate new romance takes them both by surprise. They keep it a secret: it’s too early to make plans and too late not to care. But it’s 1989. As politics suddenly get personal, they find themselves fighting bare-fisted for their beliefs—and each other—in the clear light of day.

Behind the Scenes of '89 Walls

A conversation with a friend in 2006 about the pros and cons of potentially attending my 20th high school reunion brought to mind the random people you run into at those things: old crushes, old “frenemies.” I suddenly had the idea for Seth and Quinn’s reluctant romance. I thought it would be fun to introduce young readers to the concept of Star Wars as more than just a movie, and the good old days of writing notes in cursive and getting by on 12 cable channels.

During my research I found that a lot went down in 1989: divestiture in apartheid South Africa, the Tiananmen Square protests, the Webster decision, the Iran-Contra scandal, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the savings and loan crisis, the growing AIDS epidemic, the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the premiere of Seinfeld.

Halfway through the first draft, I realized I was also writing a partisan allegory. Seth is the Democratic Party in the late 80’s: reactive, angry, without a compass. The successes of the 1970s’ social movements had been dampened by Vietnam.

Quinn’s father, Tom is the Republican Party: optimistic, smug, and still grounded in a true small government philosophy but underestimating the rising Religious Right. Mr. Levine, the teacher, is the moderator who allows two strong points of view to talk it out respectfully. Quinn is all of us, trying to find her way when tidy theories crash into reality.

Including abortion as a theme in ’89 Walls was deliberate. Given that 2/3 of high school seniors report being sexually active, and that over a third of all women have at least one abortion, the lack of YA literature on the subject seems odd in a creepy, censored sort of way. And when abortion is depicted in YA, it’s almost always a trauma, a painful, heart-wrenching decision. Some readers criticize the book because the protagonist acts instead of agonizing. I believe that part of what readers imagine the abortion experience to be is the intended result of the anti- choice movement’s marginalization of abortion. They’ve cast it in politics and media as being outside the normal range of women’s reproductive health care when a full third of us abort at least once.

While none of us think to ourselves as teens, “Gee, when I grow up I hope I get an abortion,” I wanted this book to help normalize abortion as a reasonable choice. My character’s straightforward decision is more typical of a college-bound high school girl—no matter what her religious beliefs or political affiliation—than most people realize or want to admit. Finally, I wanted to write the kind of book that I want my own teenage daughters to read; one that shows fun, safe sex in the context of a trusting, respectful relationship. There are plenty of YA books out there with sex scenes but very few showing female pleasure or a female orgasm. Is it me or is it totally sexist that writing these scenes is “controversial?”

Thank you so much for having me!

About the Author

Katie Pierson freelances for local non-profits, using her background in public policy and grassroots organizing to overthrow the patriarchy one introverted step at a time. When she’s not writing fiction, she returns library books, makes soup, and tries to be cooler than she really is by hip-hopping at the YMCA.

Her published work includes political Commentaries in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, articles for Minnesota Journal (a public policy monthly) and Nebraska Humanities journal, and a chapter for an anthology called Nebraska Voices: Telling the Stories of our State. She is a member of SCBWI, MNSCBWI and the Authors Guild. She also blogged on comparative culture and politics during her family’s sabbatical year in London, England.

She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in American History from the University of Pennsylvania (where she dabbled briefly in being a College Republican) and a Master’s in American History from the University of Minnesota. She grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and now lives with her family in a suburb of Minneapolis. ’89 Walls is her first novel.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of '89 Walls—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Katie's question in the comments below:
What were you doing in 1989?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Katie and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to the lovely Katie Pierson!
Giveaway ends November 20th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!