Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: The Edge of Brilliance by Susan Traugh @yaboundtourspr

The Edge of Brilliance
Susan Traugh
Genre: YA Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Release Date: July 19th 2016
Finch Books

Summary from Goodreads: 

Volatile and unstable, Amy stands at the precipice. Will she fall into the chaos and despair of insanity or ascend into brilliance and redemption?

Amy Miles is fifteen and crazy. Or, at least that’s her greatest fear. Her severe bipolar disorder, with its roller coaster manic and depressive episodes, is ruining her life. Yet in Amy’s mind it is accepting the pills and therapy—not the disease—that will brand her as ’crazy’.

When Amy lands in a residential psychiatric program, she befriends take-charge Mallory and the two create family and try to salvage the shards of their broken minds. There, Amy discovers that her illicit drug use has robbed her of her ability to dance and she is forced to weigh how hard she is willing to work to reclaim her lost talent and potential. But, despite a promising beginning, when Amy falls back into denial, the tragic consequences cannot be undone.

Amy is left to decide whether to give up altogether or accept her diagnosis and the tools she needs to battle her disease, to learn to dance again and forge a new and improved version of herself. Will she step up to the edge of her brilliance and shine?

Reader Advisory: This book contains strong language and also includes scenes involving drug use, rape, violence. This book also includes a frank exploration of mental illness and loss of autonomy. 

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Interview with Susan Traugh

What inspired you to write The Edge of Brilliance?

As I watched my own teenaged daughter struggle with severe bipolar disorder, I was struck by the great heroism she showed in accepting and fighting the most devastating aspects of her disorder.  Too often, society sees these survivors as ill-behaved, out-of-control young people who need to ‘buck up’ and ‘straighten up.’ They’re thrown to the curb as delinquents and drug addicts. But, I saw a hero of mythic proportions slaying a dragon of enormous power and destruction, and I wanted to chronicle the journey of one such hero. (Reader exclusive: pay attention in the book; you’ll find it follows the traditional hero’s journey of mythology.)

I also believe that open, honest discussion of mental illness is one of the next important tasks for our society. We no longer live in an age where there is ‘no hope’ for those who suffer from mental illness. In fact, with therapy in all its forms, it is possible to live an ‘ordinary’—or even an extraordinary—life. That needs to be said, loud and strong, with no embarrassment and no stigma for both sufferers and society as a whole, to hear. People with mental illness have much to offer our world and we do ourselves all a disservice by relegating them to the sidelines instead of encouraging their talent and contribution.

Can you tell us a little bit about the next books?

Because of my daughter’s mental illness (which is shared by her older sister), and because birds of a feather seem to flock together, I am surrounded by extraordinary people—but people who live ‘outside’ society’s mainstream. I believe that my job in life is to speak for these people.  My next book is Coco’s Cry, and this time, I speak for transgendered individuals and the people who love them. In 2014 Leelah Alcorn, a transgendered girl, committed suicide and, in part, blamed her Conservative Christian parents because they didn’t accept her.  This event created a lot of discussion with the transgendered young people whom I consider my friends and, ultimately, led to the question: “What happens when everybody does what they think is right and it turns out so very wrong?”  What if there really were no ‘bad guys’ in this story, but instead, earnest people simply doing the best they knew how? And, Coco’s Cry was born. I’m still shopping this book, but will let you know when it has a publish date.

Can you tell me a little bit about the characters in The Edge of Brilliance?

Amy Miles is the main character in this story. Once a GATE student, and a gifted dancer and singer at her school, her life gets turned upside down when bipolar disorder strikes her in her teens. As the roller coaster of mania and depression send her emotions skyrocketing one minute only to crash and burn the next, Amy’s behavior becomes more and more erratic and more and more self-destructive. Desperately wanting to be a ‘normal teen,’ Amy refuses the therapy and medication that might help her cope with her disorder and instead, like so many mentally ill young people, self-medicates with pot, ecstasy, and pretty much anything else she can get her hands on. That behavior makes her vulnerable to sexual assault and her own erratic behavior that eventually costs her her friends, her family and her freedom.  The Edge of Brilliance explores Amy’s struggle to combat her demons as she journeys to health and wholeness, and the hero she finds within herself along the way.

My favorite author?

No doubt, Ellen Hopkins. Ellen’s books touch that raw, unspeakable place where mental illness, drugs, dysfunction and tragedy intersect. Her poetry just reaches in and grabs at your heart—sometimes to caress it, sometimes to rip it out of your chest. There’s a reason the woman has so many New York Times best sellers! She also began her writing career at an older age (like me) and seeing her success gives me hope for my own future and provides me with a role model and guide.

If you could time-travel, where would you go?

In a heartbeat, I’d been in Paris of the 1920’s. I’d love to share a table with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, T. S. Elliot, Salvador Dali, Josephine Baker...oh my gosh! The art, the music, the writing—the clothes! Now, I’m a pretty shy person and doubt I’d even have the nerve to speak to people of such enormous talent and presence, but I’d even love to just sit there and drink in the energy of all that talent in one place. Woody Allen’s movie, “Midnight in Paris” is one of my favorites as it addresses just such a fantasy—of stepping into the past and the wonder of a night at the salon. If you haven’t watched it, do so. It’ll give you an idea of this remarkable period in history. So, yeah, if you find a time machine, I’ll slick my hair, roll my stockings down and head right out to make some “whoopee.”

Do I have any fuzzy friends?

Yes, I do. And while my daughters promised me that, if I let them each have a pet I’d “never” have to take care of it, I seem to be the primary caregiver for Lily and Cassie.  Lily is affectionately referred to as “the B—“ as she has been one cranky girl since she was a kitten. Now, approaching old age, she has let any pretense of civility fall by the wayside and gone for straight-ahead cantankerous. The one and only game that appears to give her great joy is to tease the dog. Cassie is a two-year-old Sharpei/Pit-bull mix. She’s in-your-face loveable and can’t understand why the cat won’t play with her. We’ve got a baby gate to keep them apart—rare interface usually leaves Cassie’s nose scratched and bleeding and living room furniture knocked over in a path of destruction—but it doesn’t stop Cassie from hanging on the gate ten times a day, whining and beating her wagging tail against the wall, calling out “Come play with me!” while Lily hisses and jabs at her from around the corner!

About the Author

Award-winning author, Susan Traugh, has been writing for over thirty years. Her Daily Living Skills workbooks are used in classrooms all over the world and her stories have appeared in periodicals nationwide along with several stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul. With husband, Steven, Susan won Learning Magazine's Teachers Choice Award for Mother Goose Brain Boost.

Now, Susan is venturing into the world of young adult fiction. Her latest novel, The Edge of Brilliance is an exploration into the heroes found within struggling young people. The manuscript was a finalist in the San Diego Book Awards.  Today, Susan lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and daughters, a cat, dog, fish and near her grown son who doesn't visit enough.

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