Why I Wrote Backwards

Stuff I probably shouldn’t tell you…

Backwards Cover

Travel Backwards…

I’ll be honest, this is an odd little book. I wrote it more out of necessity than intention (in fact, the initial idea hit me with such insistence that I had to pull over no less than six times on a drive home from a YA Conference in Denver to write it down).

Leading up to that day, several students at the school where I teach died by suicide, a mother wrote me a letter about her son who died by suicide, and someone close to me attempted suicide. So I felt surrounded by the issue and I wanted to do something about it.

The more I looked into books on suicide, though, the less satisfied I was with how a lot of fiction was addressing it. Some books seemed to glorify suicide, while others were so depressing that by the end of the book I wanted to curl up and disappear. But as a teacher, and a person, I’d seen too many lives be impacted by suicide and other self-destructive behaviors to stay silent.

In writing Backwards, I wanted to grapple with the seriousness of suicide (as well as difficult issues like bullying), while also writing an engaging, entertaining, and hopefully uplifting story. The only way I could think of to do this was to have the story be narrated by a character who’s traveling backwards in time. So the book begins with both a death and a birth, as the narrator comes into this world. What happens afterwards (or before) is something I hope you’ll read to find out.

Order Backwards hardcover, ebook, or audiobook.

BackwardsOpeningOne more confession… initially, I thought Backwards would be a simple story, but it ended up being the most complex and challenging thing I’ve ever written. Throughout it all, Candlewick has been incredibly supportive of the project, and the book design they’ve done is amazing. I’ve never seen a book like it before. I hope you’ll pick up a copy. Here’s the opening paragraph if you’re curious (check out that nifty backwards title font):


  1. Powerful post!!! I can’t wait till Oct 8th!

  2. Will you post/send out more info on your book launch event(s)? Time etc.

    • Thanks for asking. I think I’m going to do one book launch event on October 17th (that’s when I’m doing a reading at CSU in the Hatton Gallery as part of the Writer’s Harvest Benefit). Then I’m going to have a second book launch event on November 9th at Old Firehouse Books, so folks can pick up a signed book for the holidays (should they be so inclined). More on these to come!

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