Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.
- What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
High is a YA novel in verse, Fitzroy/Regal House Publishing, Pub Date: 10/25/2021
- In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
Fourteen-year-old Ceti is a star on the soccer field but struggles at home with her mother’s heroin addiction. Her life in constant upheaval, Ceti must find the courage to hold on to her dreams.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
Vanessa Diffenbaugh (The Language of Flowers) said: “I love this book. In gorgeous, compelling prose, High tells the story of fourteen-year-old Ceti’s struggle to soar even as she lives through her mother’s life-threatening addiction. Mary Sullivan has written a beautiful, heartfelt book—I couldn’t put it down.”
- What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
Booked (Kwame Alexander) meets Crank (Ellen Hopkins).
- Why this book? Why now?
With the opioid crisis worsening, especially after Covid, it’s crucial for young readers to know there are other options than drugs (which seem to be everywhere), to be aware of their choices, and make the right decisions. Reading High would open conversations about drug use between children and grown-ups in a way that could change the directions of some lives.
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
I love teaching at Harvard Summer School and Harvard Extension School. I learn so much from my students and get so much back from them.
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
I want readers to gain insight into the decisions they make about drugs before they are put in that situation, and for them to think about what they want most in their lives. I want to give them hope to believe in their dreams, big or small—something that matters rather than taking the easy way out.
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
Fast food! Donuts, burgers and fries, Mac n’ Cheese.
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison), The New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander)
Learn more about Mary at her website