August 28, 2011

GuestPost: Aubrey Coletti author of ALTERED & GIVEAWAY

 Today we have Aubrey Coletti the author of Altered for a guestpost here on my blog.


 Aubrey Coletti

One of the first things those who have read or learned about “Altered” express is surprise that schools quite similar to the fictional J. Alter Academy exist. I certainly was shocked to learn of places like the Judge Rottenberg Center (right in Canton, Massachusetts, by my own home town!) which uses skin shock devices to enforce behavioral rules on the children residing in their center, or the WWASP, the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs, an umbrella organization for many “teen help” programs which accepts children with supposed psychological or behavioral problems and which have been accused of being little more than “teen torture centers.”

The fact of the matter is those suffering from mental and emotional disturbances are still in danger of being treated as willful delinquents, or walking time-bombs. While “Altered” is written very much as a fictional teen sci-fi thriller, packed with as much drama, humor, and action as I could fit into 272 pages, I also tried to pack in as much realism as possible. Most of the characters are composites of my friends and family, with lots of the dialogue taken from real life. Mental illness is something close to home for me, from a history of it in my family, my own struggles with anorexia, anxiety disorder and depression, and watching close friends struggle as well. The idea of having some type of skill or talent to make up for being sick, or different, or an outsider is nothing new: being the ardent X-Men fangirl that I am, you will probably see some parallels. But while many of the characters have extraordinary abilities to make up for their mental and emotional struggles, I tried to keep the experience of living with a sickness in your mind and heart as true to life as I could make it.

I try not to have any deliberate “messages” in my writing, and just let the characters do the talking. But if I have any main theme in “Altered”, it’s that of family: the family you make based on love and trust, the family made up of friends and lovers who chose each other. In the absence of adults they can trust and rely upon, the characters of “Altered” make their own family, watching each other’s backs, fighting for their goals and carrying each other when one of their own can’t walk. It may be my most deeply help belief that you can get through anything with a family like that, whether it be draconian teachers or the terrors in your own mind: if you’re not alone, you can survive it. If anything, I hope my book can give that sense to those who read it, that there is no reason to go through life alone. 

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