Gail Pallotta is an award-winning author, wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen book, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance eBooks. Readers can find her blog at http://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com. Her Web Site is http://www.gailpallotta.com
Welcome back to my blog, Gail. This book is a Young Adult Mystery. Please tell us about your new book.
It’s a teen sports mystery with suspense, first love and spiritual talk. The theme of the book is: We don’t have to be number one for God to love us.
It’s set in a small town in North Carolina, but things aren’t what they seem in peaceful Mistville. Here’s what’s going on with Margaret McWhorter and her friends. She enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay.
Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean. Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.
I love mysteries. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?
First of all, I wanted to write a fun book. As a youngster I loved mysteries, especially when the kids, like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, solved the case. My book’s reminiscent of those amateur sleuths. As for the message, over the years I’ve seen instances when not being number one created great pain for a child or young adult. Whether the pressure came from within, peers, siblings or parents, the need to be “better than everyone else” rather than “the best one could be” often hurt and sometimes led to destruction. We don’t have to be number one for God to love us. He’s given each of us a gift or gifts to use for Him.
That is so true, Gail. What kind of research did you do for this book?
A lot. Children face a number of problems today, but I wrote about steroids. One reason teens say they take steroids is to enhance athletic performance, which indicates they have a drive to be number one. I read material from library books, the Physicians Desk Reference and the Internet. Also, I interviewed an undercover detective and a narcotics officer as well as an administrative policeman. Even though the use of steroids is going down, according to the latest statistics I could find there are around 125,000 teens who say they’ve used them. Sadly, I imagine there are some who’ve used them, but don’t say they did.
As for swimming, my daughter was a high school and U.S. swimmer, so I had lots of experience as a Team Mom doing everything from timing to serving as a team coordinator. I also went over the technicalities of meets with a coach and a director of summer league swimming.
What intrigues you most about writing Young Adult stories?
Seeing how young people face the challenges in today’s society. Each era brings its own set of unique problems. Currently we live in a world that gives mixed signals about right and wrong, so that makes choices even more difficult for teens than the ones made as recent as thirty years ago. Human nature doesn’t change, even though the times do. Today’s young people must deal with all society throws at them while coping with the same emotions all of us had when we were their ages. There are lots of qualities to admire about today’s teens as they handle these trying circumstances.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’m having a discussion and give away in the “teen” room at The Book Club Network. Each week for a month I’ll ask a question then choose a winner from the comments. Each winner will get a PDF download of Stopped Cold and one of the following prizes: An Olympic jacket from the 1996 summer Olympic Games, a stuffed cow from a Chic-fil-A football bowl game, a leather purse, or Fancy Nights perfume. The contest is going on now at http://bookfun.org Come over to the “teen” room and join us.