I’m so excited to have Connie Goldsmith here for my Friday Fave: my fave non-fiction writer. She and I met during the pre-conference for The Nevada Mentoring Program. She befriended me instantly and has been a constant resource and friend over the years. Her recent non-fiction book is on such an important subject. One that is dear to my heart as well.
Here’s what Connie has to say about it:
Thank you, Stacie Ramey, for inviting me to be your guest blogger for Friday Fave. People may wonder what a rising novelist like Stacie and a dedicated nonfiction writer like me have in common.
We met several years ago at an SCBWI novel mentorship program in Reno. Stacie continued working on fiction while I returned to nonfiction. I lived many years in Florida, not too far from where Stacie lives. We’re both healthcare professionals—I’m an RN and Stacie a speech pathologist. But for the purpose of this blog, we also have in common the fact that Stacie wrote “The Sister Pact,” a powerful novel about a sister who commits suicide, and my book, “Understanding Suicide: a national epidemic,” is nonfiction and filled with true stories.
When my editor asked if I’d be interested in writing a book about suicide, I was still reeling from my sister’s suicide attempt. Living with severe depression and pain, she’d taken dozens of Valium and OxyContin tablets. Each night I looked at the moon and asked myself, how could a reasonably healthy woman, one with a loving family, be so depressed that life no longer seemed worth living?
I jumped at the chance to write this book, to find out more about the depression and other issues that cause people to want to end their lives. Over 41,000 Americans take their lives each year and many more attempt suicide. About 10% of teen girls and 5% of teen boys have attempted suicide. Yet many of the risk factors for suicide can be prevented or modified. My book covers these in depth, and includes interviews with family members of people who died of suicide, those who tried to end their lives, and those who contemplated it.
I did something new (I believe) in YA nonfiction; I included quotes from prominent YA novelists. School & Library Journal said, “Of particular interest to teens are the quotes and advice from influential YA authors. Chris Crutcher offers guidance in his capacity as a mental health specialist, Libba Bray speaks of living with depression, and e.E. Charlton-Trujillo warns of the potentially devastating consequences of bullying. Edifying and thorough . . .”
Stacie’s fictional sister did not survive. My real sister did survive. Stacie and I want to encourage teachers, librarians, and readers everywhere to consider acquiring these books as a “text set,” a fiction/nonfiction pairing that together can make an important teaching unit for young people. (The applicable CCS standard is “ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.9: Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics.”)
If you’ve been touched by suicide, and you probably have because each suicide affects at least six other people—these books will speak to you. Listen to what they say. And Stacie and I would like to hear what you say as well.
Connie Goldsmith writes nonfiction for middle school and upper grade readers. “Understanding Suicide” is her 17th book with two more due out in 2017. Most of her books are about health, science, and history. She’s an active member of SCBWI and a member of the Authors Guild. Visit her at www.conniegoldsmith.com andwww.bombsoverbikini.com.