AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR JD SPERO DAZZLES YOUNG ADULTS WITH NEW URBAN FANTASY
Book examines the cost of “fitting in” – with a twist of magic
JD Spero spins magic into a coming-of-age tale in her newest novel Forte.
In Forte, Sami McGovern, a young musician, moves out of her beloved city to start her freshman year in a small upstate town where sports—not music—makes kids popular. When she’s wooed by the coach to play volleyball, it’s magic—not athleticism and hard work—that gets Sami a spot on the volleyball team. The catch? The same sports drink that makes her a sports superstar silences her music. As Sami questions who she is and what’s important to her, she must also fulfill a prophecy to end the magic before it destroys her…and everyone else in its thrall.
Drawing on her experience teaching high school—this time with a social concern, Forte stresses how tenuous and critical this time is for young people in a new, fascinating way. Spero infuses the rites of passage for the teenager—cliques, first kisses, peer pressure, and bullying—with magic. Written from Sami’s point of view, Spero puts the reader into the mind of a fifteen-year-old who must navigate the tumultuous waters of being the new girl—the underdog who starts to win and is intoxicated by it. Truly a page-turner, this action-packed story will have readers of all ages eager to see what happens next.
Forte is Spero’s second novel.
Spero’s debut novel, Catcher’s Keeper, was chosen as a Finalist in the 2014 Indie Excellence Book Awards contest and also made the top 5% out of 10,000 entries in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Both Spero’s novels are available on Amazon both in Kindle and print form.
MEET JD SPERO
Johannah Davies Spero has been writing since childhood and has pursued her love of narrative by obtaining degrees in English, Russian, and teaching. “I always felt drawn to put pen to paper and create my own words,” said Spero.
Living in cities such as St. Petersburg, Russia to Dallas Texas, she currently resides in the Northeast with her husband and three young sons.
Spero has worked as an actress, yoga instructor, web design entrepreneur, and freelance writer. She has also followed in her mother’s footsteps in becoming a high school English teacher. Throughout her career path, writing has always been her passion.
Catcher’s Keeper and Forte are available on Amazon in print and Kindle form.
|PRINT LENGTH:||269 pgs|
Paperback ISBN 1940810426, 978-1-940810-42-3
eBook ISBN 1940810434, 978-1-940810-43-0
Q&A with JD Spero
How did you come to write this story?
This book was originally titled PLAY FOR PANIC, meaning “play volleyball for Coach Panic.” For this book, it was this title that came to me first. The story grew from its play on words. However, Coach Panic is actually the name of a beloved coach at my former high school. Out of reverence to her, I believe I have to change the name (of title and character)…for the coach truly becomes a villain in my book.
Music—specifically piano—is a motif. Are you a musician?
Sami, my main character, is a piano prodigy. I am not. When I was a young girl, I took piano lessons for years. At some point, my older brother decided to try his hand at the keys. In three weeks, he surpassed me (I’d been practicing for three years!). I threw in the proverbial towel. My brother was true talent, although his interests went a different way. If I Stay by Gayle Forman was an inspiration to me regarding one’s spiritual connection to music. I also enlisted pianist friends as beta readers and watched a zillion Youtube videos of Ragtime in the name of research for this book.
Can you talk about the book’s setting?
Forte is set in Whitehall, New York. (Renamed Skenesboro in my book)—not far from where I was raised. To visit my parents in upstate New York from our previous home in Northern Massachusetts, we’d routinely drive a scenic route through the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. Whitehall is the first town we encounter when we cross into New York. Back in 2003, my husband (then fiancé) and I enlisted the help of a very kind Whitehall town hall clerk to meet us after hours so we could get our NY marriage license en route so we wouldn’t have to take a day off work.
Whitehall is home of Skene Manor—a beautiful Victorian mansion that sits on the crest of Skene Mountain overlooking the village. Skene Manor has a unique history—once privately owned, then a bed & breakfast / restaurant, now managed by a historic preservation society—and is rumored to have been haunted at one point by the ghost of Katherine Skene. Yes, in my book the mansion could very well be considered a character in her own right, spooks and all. How could I resist? www.skenemanor.org/
How does the “magic potion” help portray a very real issue for teens?
The magical “performance enhancing drug” is called Aquamarine and is derived from the gemstone: crushed with mortar and pestle and liquefied. In my book, there is a limited natural resource of Aquamarine in a cave on Skene Mountain, just behind Skene Manor. There is only one way to neutralize Aquamarine’s magic…and Sami is the only one who can do it. But first, she must give up the glory of being MVP and reclaim her piano talent. Will she do it?
Your books—Catcher’s Keeper and Forte—seem completely different. Are they?
It does seem that way. But my concern with both books focuses on the teenager. Holden Caulfield is considered the quintessential teen and most famous teen in all of American Literature. I wanted to show the world a grown Holden Caulfield, to assure readers that sixteen-year-old boy would be okay—because at the end of The Catcher in the Rye we’re not so sure he will be. In Forte, I’m showing a more immediate sense of teen issues, from the perspective of a teenage girl. I’m kind of paying forward all the lessons I learned in high school. My current work-in-progress also features a teenager who must deal with a very serious issue.
What are you working on now?
My favorite part of writing is creating the story from scratch, so I always have a project going in that phase. Right now, I am working on another novel (adult fiction) with the working title HENRY TROUT SAVES A HEDGEHOG which has an element of mystery…and a very cute hedgehog. Henry Trout is a six-year-old boy who loves nocturnal animals so much, he sneaks outside in the middle of the night to catch one for a pet. Through the darkness of his backyard, he witnesses a crime being committed against his neighbor and beloved babysitter. Turns out, the attacker is none other than his teenage brother. Henry Trout must figure out what to do with this knowledge, and what he further learns about his troubled brother.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT FORTE
“With an engaging premise, swift pacing, and genuine characters, JD Spero’s novel hums along with sweeps and sways one might liken to Sami’s piano playing, building to a dramatic crescendo that will leave you unable to put the book down.” Anika Denise, Children’s Book Author
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT CATCHER’S KEEPER
“It drew you in at the beginning of the book and held your interest throughout. It definitely met my expectations.” Elizabeth Shirley, Amazon customer.
“I could not put this down until I reached the end.” Leia Johnson, Amazon customer.
“An ‘unputdownable’ book!” Online Book Reviews.
“The novel is both an exciting thrill ride and an insightful presentation of sibling interaction.” janetd, Amazon customer.
“A must read!” Alice Petranik, Amazon customer.
“If you read and enjoyed The Catcher in the Rye, then you can’t deny yourself the pleasure of reading Catcher’s Keeper.” Majanka, Amazon customer.
“A Fantastic Re-invention of History” VeenaKWriter, Amazon customer.
“Riveting. A fabulous debut!” Anika Denise, Childrens Book Author.