Interview with Patricia McCormick

In honor of her birthday, May 23, this interview highlights the work of award-winning American author and Journalist, Patricia McCormick. McCormick is known for her young adult novels CUT, Purple Heart, and Never Fall Down. Her work covers a variety of controversial topics in a way that is made accessible to adolescent readers.


Q: Thank you for meeting with me. First, I’d like to say that my eighth grade teacher assigned CUT, and as far as I can remember, that was the book that led me to devouring massive amounts of young adult fiction. What inspires you to write for that particular genre?


A: “I think young adults get a bad rap for being self-absorbed and self-centered. My experience going around the United States and speaking in schools is that teenagers here are very interested in the fate of their peers around the world.”


Q: Fate is definitely important, and considering your books tackle mental health issues, I imagine many of the students you’ve spoken to have been affected by your work. I know that a few of your novels, especially Purple Heart, were influenced by real-life events. Is that your main source for inspiration, the details you get from talking with students?


A: “My son jokes with me that he thinks I Google the word ‘sad’ to come up with book ideas. I don’t want to go slumming in somebody else’s pain just to write a book. I want to go into those darker places to shine a light on that experience and come out with a story that validates the human spirit.”


Q:That’s very admirable. Today’s students definitely need to feel validated, to read books that make them feel like someone out there understands them. If you had to leave a message for today’s students, or for yourself at that age now that you’ve had more life experience, is there anything that you think might be helpful?


A: “Read as much and as widely as you can. And make it a habit to unplug for an hour or so every day. No phone, no iPod, no texting, no TV, no Facebook. It will be very uncomfortable at first. But in that quiet, it will be amazing what your imagination comes up with. My hope is that people who are coping with any of the difficult issues facing teenagers will see the struggles of the characters — Callie, the girls at Sea Pines, Toby, Jake, their parents — with compassion. Then I hope they’ll see their own lives in a new light, with more understanding and hope for themselves.”


Q: That’s such a powerful message. Thank you for sharing with us today.


A: My pleasure.



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McCormick, Patricia. Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from:

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