I just learned September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I don’t want to overlook this important month before we suffer through next month’s Pink, although I’d take a year of pink if it meant kids wouldn’t know such suffering before they’re fully grown.
To highlight kids with cancer, I asked my friend Amy Goldman Koss if she’d do a short interview for my blog. Amy has authored 18 books, including SIDE EFFECTS, which is a novel about a teen with cancer. But enough commentary from me. Here’s the interview:
Eileen: What inspired you to write a novel about a teen who has cancer?
Amy: When my daughter was 14 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Somewhere in the middle of that nightmare, I went looking for kids’ books on the subject for her and her friends. That’s when I discovered that all the stories killed off the cancer kid. Nice.
I get it that it’s fun to write a tearjerker, and readers love a good cry, but still, I was pissed! So when my daughter was in the clear, I wrote SIDE EFFECTS. A survivor’s tale.
Eileen: Was it difficult to write SIDE EFFECTS from an emotional point of view? Or did you find it cathartic?
Amy: I had a great time writing it, partly because I got revenge by including some of the stupid, insensitive things people said and did. And by making the heroes… HEROES. Plus, writing a snarky triumphant heroine is always a blast.
Eileen: How has SIDE EFFECTS been received among teens with cancer? What kind of feedback have you gotten?
Amy: As a writer of teen books I get a lot of email from kids. The bulk of it is from kids doing book reports, author reports, or some other school assignment. I love them all. But the letters I get about SIDE EFFECTS are a world apart. They are from kids with cancer or kids whose sister or best friend has been diagnosed.
These letters are from the heart, they’re real, and funny, and heartbreaking, and fabulous. It is those kids and their letters that make writing SIDE EFFECTS my highest achievement.
Eileen: I’m sure kids with cancer can tell you write from an authentic place, having lived through it with your daughter.
Amy: My daughter had final approval and veto power over every word, and I’m happy to say, she loved it.
Eileen: How is she doing now?
Amy: She’s 25 now, and healthy as a horse. I think at this point her memories of cancer are confused with my fictionalized version.
Links to Side Effects on Amazon are above. Just click on the covers.