A Q&A with the author... Freerunner by Kathy Cassel (Interview & #Giveaway) #yalit @celebrate_lit

Check out an interview with the author and enter the tour giveaway below from Celebrate Lit...

By Kathy Cassel
YA Contemporary
Paperback & ebook, 244 Pages
May 16, 2020 by Elk Lake Publishing Inc


Set against the backdrop of the sport of freerunning, Kia must decide whether she will continue running or face her past abuser in order to save another child.

Night is Kia’s favorite time, when she freeruns to outdistance the memories of abuse she suffered as a young child. But when former reality television star Terrence Jones arrives at their school as the new head track coach, things begin to change in unpredictable ways. Kia tries out for the team to fit in, but just as she’s gaining a new sense of normal, her abuser steps back into her life. Not only that, but being on the track team causes even more turmoil. Why does the assistant coach, Cassandra Clark, dislike Terrence Jones so much, and even more troubling, why does Coach Clark dislike her so much? As the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, Kia realizes she has to choose between running from her past or saving a child from the same sort of abuse she suffered. But will she have the courage to do so?

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What inspired you to write Freerunner?

I love reading YA books, or in reality listening to them on CD while I drive. Most of the books I was checking out from the library had themes of depression, suicide, death and so on. I quickly realized the books didn’t offer any real answers or hope, and I felt a strong call to switch from devotion books to fiction that would reach unchurched teens (or those who already believe) with the message that there is a God, and he has a plan for them. If they walk away from the story with that hope, then I’ve succeeded in planting a seed of faith.

Freerunner is the story of a 15-year-old who freeruns to escape the memories of abuse/molestation she suffered as a young child. So many teens live with painful secrets like Kia, and they need to know that they weren’t at fault and that God does have a plan for them for healing.

Would you tell us a little more about the main characters?

There is quite a cast of characters in Freerunneer. Kiana Scott is the main character, and her best friend, Thorn, stands beside her throughout the story. Besides them there is a snooty clique, an angry coach, a hometown hero, and a lot more. It’s fun to watch the interactions between the characters and see how each one plays a part in Kia’s life.

Which character do you most relate to and why?

That would have to be Kia. I was somewhat of a misfit in my school, but I unfortunately did not have her amazing athletic ability or a best friend like Thorn.

What one piece of advice/tips would Kia give?

Face your past. Someone else might write the first chapters of your life, but you don’t have to let them write the ending.

What part or aspect of this story do you love the most?

The relationship between Kia and Thorn. They aren’t romantically involved, although they are very special to each other. There is one part where Kia is staying with Thorn’s family, and I love Kia’s observation:

Thorn hands me a pile of DVDs. “You pick the movie, I’ll make the popcorn.”

I blink back tears. Funny how family can feel like strangers and friends can become family.

What challenged you about writing Freerunner?

Coming up with an ending that would be both believable and acceptable. There isn’t always a happy ending to the things that happen to us, but there is always hope. I want the readers to walk away with that feeling of hope.

What’s one of your hobbies or something we might not know about you?

In order to better relate to some of my characters in different projects I’m working on, I have done things such as whitewater rafting, certifying in scuba diving, and getting my motorcycle endorsement. I draw the line at sky diving.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Study the craft. I would recommend reading two books by James Scott Bell. Write Your Novel from the Middle and Plot and Structure

When you reach for a book to read, what genre do you grab and what are some of your favorites in that genre?

Young adult. Right now I’m reading books by Jenny B Jones. Also clean suspense, and I’m reading through books by Mary Higgins Clark. In reality, “reading” for me means listening to them in the car as I drive.

What are you working on next?

I have a second book coming out through Elk Lake in February called Catching Hope.

Set in the country of Haiti, four teens must learn to work together to escape kidnappers and devise a plan to rescue others.

Newly adopted Lexi Michaels is taking her first real vacation ever. While her new dad, a pediatrician volunteers at a clinic in Haiti, the four teens are left in the safety of a secure resort. However, the trip is anything but relaxing as she, her twin brother Levi, adoptive brother Chad, and their cousin Jen are kidnapped while on an excursion. An earthquake helps them escape, but their perils are far from over. The teens are kilometers from civilization in a mountainous area now ravished by the earthquake.

Now the four teens must work together to figure out good guys from bad, outwit the kidnappers, and mount a rescue attempt of their own. After all the years of waiting for a forever family, Lexi wonders if she’ll ever see her new parents again.

I am currently writing an underwater crime scene novel, and it is very challenging for me.

About the Author

Kathy grew up in northern Indiana, lived in three different continents while her husband was in the USAF, and now lives in the Florida Panhandle. She and her husband have eight children, five of whom are adopted, three from Haiti and two from the United States. They also have four grandchildren. Kathy’s favorite activities are those that involve traveling and adventures that include her children and grandchildren.

In order to better relate to the characters in her stories, Kathy has done things such as whitewater rafting, certify in scuba diving, and get her motorcycle endorsement. She draws the line at sky diving.

More from Kathy

Meet the cover model for Freerunner.

I asked a friend if I could photograph her daughter to give the design team an idea of what I envisioned for the cover of Freerunner. I took action shots and mood shots (and even have some fun bloopers). When I sent them to the design team, they actually chose to use one of my photos for the cover. Now one of my friend’s daughters is on the cover of my first teen fiction book. She’s an amazing young lady, so it’s special to me to have her as the cover model.

The cover model is fifteen–year-old Larissa (fourteen when the cover photo was taken), who is part of an adoptive family that has twelve children. She and her brother were adopted as toddlers, and while Larissa doesn’t share Kia’s story, she has had struggles of her own. To accommodate some medical issues, she is homeschooled. She is involved in modeling, dance, musical theater and singing. The amazing part about Larissa performing is that because of the trauma of spending three years in foster care she struggled with selective mutism, not able to talk to anyone outside of her family. Amazingly she has been able to overcome it and is now able to express herself verbally as well as through music and dance. Larissa’s newest interest is photography, and she loves llamas and collecting realistic dolls.

Here are a few fun facts about Larissa:

Favorite color: Purple

Favorite sport: Dance

Favorite Bible verse: Proverbs 3:5

Favorite Bible character: Noah

Favorite activity: Singing and dancing

What do you want to be as an adult? Performer and photographer

What one thing do you want to do more than anything else? Walk a runway in Italy

What advice would you give a girl in Kia’s situation or in any abusive situation? Pray and ask an adult for help. You are the victim, it isn’t your fault. 

Tour Schedule

Rebecca Tews, November 10 
Texas Book-aholic, November 12 
Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 13 (Author Interview) 
Inklings and notions, November 14 
For Him and My Family, November 15 
Library Lady Kid Lit, November 16 
Wishful Endings, November 17 (Author Interview) 
Artistic Nobody, November 17 (Guest Review from Joni Truex) 
Locks, Hooks and Books, November 18 
Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 19 
Stories By Gina, November 21 (Author Interview) 
Sara Jane Jacobs, November 21 
deb’s Book Review, November 22 

Tour-Wide Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away the grand prize of a $40 Books-A-Million Gift Card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

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