Driver’s ed and a first crush should be what Alex Winchester is stressed out about in high school – and she is. But what’s really on her mind is her mother. Why is she dressing in Dad’s baggy khaki pants with a silk scarf around her neck? What is she planning when she pores over maps in the middle of the night? When did she stop being Mom and start being Amelia Earhart? Alex tries to keep her budding love life apart from the growing disaster at home as her mother sinks further into her delusions. But there are those nights, when everyone else is asleep, when it’s easier to confide in Amelia than it ever was to Mom. Now, as Amelia’s flight plans become more intense, Alex is increasingly worried that Amelia is planning her final flight – the flight from which she never returns. What could possibly be driving Mom’s delusions, and how far will they take her? (Goodreads)
Lots of sitting in libraries/coffee shops/my apartment with my headphones on! ;)
Overall it took about 9 month and 15 queries to connect with my agent. There were lots of no responses and form rejections, a few kind emails with what was working and what wasn’t (and why the agents had to pass), one very kind phone call suggestion revisions, and a few emails with my to-be agent about revision.
Great question! I went into The Chance You Won’t Return not wanting to write a “problem novel” about mental health or a historical novel about Amelia Earhart, so I didn’t get too bogged down in the research. I did some research online (like on the National Institute of Mental Health site) to see what Alex’s mom might have been suffering from, and did a little more book-based research on delusional disorders, as well as research on the families and caregivers of people dealing with mental health issues. Alex’s family situation is also inspired by some real-life experiences I’ve heard about–while no one I know has thought they were Amelia Earhart, I know a lot of people who either personally have or have family members dealing with depression, bi-polar disorder, substance abuse, anxiety, etc. Having a mom who thinks she’s Amelia Earhart is more of a writerly “hook” but I hope that teen readers whose lives may be touched by mental health issues can connect on that level.