Writing Thesis: THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN
Abstract: Between drivers’ ed and a new crush, high school junior Alex Winchester already has enough to deal with when her mother begins to believe she is Amelia Earhart. Now, as her mother’s delusions become more intense, Alex is increasingly worried that her mom is planning Amelia’s final flight – the flight from which she never returns. What could possibly be driving Mom’s delusions, and how far will they take her?
Department: Candlewick Press
Faculty Advisor: Hilary Van Dusen
Released: April 22, 2014
Hometown: East Greenwich, RI
Minor(s): Baking, Running, Colorful Nail Polish-Wearing
Most Likely To: Share the Perfect Gif Response
Friday Night Whereabouts:
___ Missing in Action
# Books Queried Before THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN: THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN was my first, actually. Of course there are lots of other stories and a few novels from my own teen years that will never see the light of day.
Quote from Thesis: “No one knows when or how rescue could come.”
What inspired THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN?
One day the line ‘My mother thinks she’s Amelia Earhart’ popped into my head. I was so intrigued by this idea and what this narrator and this family’s life was like.
Outside of the general idea, I was really inspired by moving, thoughtful, introspective contemporary novels like Sara Zarr’s STORY OF A GIRL and Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK. I was coming from you a general literary MFA program, and I wanted to write something that, like Zarr and Anderson’s works, were well-crafted and literary while still being very much YA.
I know THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN was just released, but is /was there a part of the launch “process” that surprised you?
That other people are super excited for you. When the book was released, friends started sharing pictures of THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN in bookstores or libraries or having been delivered to their house. It was so cool getting to see the book really out in the world, in the hands of people I loved. It was a great moment of it going from being “my book” to “their book.”
Alex’s mother (along with all of your characters, actually) is so layered and fascinating. I imagine readers will come down on all sides regarding their feelings for her. Was she hard to write?
Thank you so much! That was probably one of the hardest parts of the book to write. Kind of like Alex, it took me a while to figure out what was going on with her mom. Why would someone think they’re Amelia Earhart? What was she trying to escape? And why Earhart in particular? The first several drafts were way more vague about what Alex’s mom was going through, but I really wanted her to come across as a fully realized character whose dealing with some real pain. I know so many people who either experience mental illness or whose loved ones have dealt with mental illness—it was really important for me to make Alex’s mom’s experience and emotions feel true, even if the situation itself is outside the ordinary.
If you could give one piece of advice to upcoming 2014 and 2015 debuts, what would it be?
It’s always going to feel like someone’s doing better marketing or has a better second book or has their writing career more together, but we’re all dealing with stress and anxiety and jealousy and self-doubt. Don’t be afraid to grab your closest fellow debut authors and vent/rant/sob—they’re probably feeling the exact same way. We’re all in this crazy ride together and the more we can support each other, the better.
Do you have a favorite book from your teen years?
It’s hard to pick just one! HARRY POTTER started to get big when I was in high school, and (of course) I loved those. Also the HIS DARK MATERIALS series and Francesca Lia Block’s books. I read FEELING SORRY FOR CELIA by Jaclyn Moriarty toward the end of high school and felt like it was one of the funniest, most honest and touching books I’d ever read. It’s still a YA favorite.
What is your advice to teens who have dreams of being published?
Keep writing! I was totally that teen who wanted to be a writer someday, and it’s still baffling that I have a book on the shelves. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t have a passion and a voice—write up a storm.
And write for you. Forget about being published right now; just write because you love it and you need to make stories. That love and passion is something that’ll keep you going for the rest of your life. Cherish it.
FRESHMAN 15 GIVEAWAY ALERT!
Be the first person to answer our Amelia Earhart trivia question in the “Comments” section below and win a free autographed copy of THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN!
Question: Amelia Earhart was given a nickname because her slim build and facial features represented another famous American aviator. What was it?
Annie Cardi holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and a BA from the University of Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in The Georgetown Review, Vestal Review, Juked, and other publications.
In 2011, PEN New England selected her as a winner of the Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award for the manuscript that would become her debut young adult novel, The Chance You Won’t Return. Annie lives near Boston with her husband and a portrait of a sea captain.