In preparation for an upcoming interview with Doug Llewelyn
Why do you feel your books are necessary for young adults to read?
My books share the raw truth about opioid addiction, as well as other substances, in a realistic and relatable way. Drugs pose an empty promise for fulfillment, which often leads to self-destruction and hurts many others in the process. I want to help kids avoid the heartache that goes along with substance abuse and find positive/beneficial outlets for their energy. There is an immense amount of social pressure on teens today. Between social media and technology, they are constantly connected and can easily lose touch with themselves. They face enormous pressure to fit in with their peers and often lose themselves in the process.
What are the main messages you try to convey in your novels?
Turn to God, not drugs, for fulfillment
Instead of trying to fit in with your peers, get to know yourself and your passions: be authentic
Are you working on a book now?
Yes, I am about 30,000 words into a novel that heavily focuses on opiate addiction. It circles back to the root of the problems in Chris Dunkin’s life—his older cousins. The story starts off right where The Aftermath leaves off, but it does a lot of time traveling between old and new experiences. This story ties a lot of plot points together that are briefly mentioned in the other books but never explored in-depth. It follows two different characters’ stories and shows, from their perspectives, how they got caught up in drug abuse—which were for very different reasons. I think it is easy for people to cast aside drug users and look down upon them, but the book I am writing shows how easily good people can get caught up in substance abuse. Moreover, it conveys the hope that exists once someone is able to forgive himself and seek sobriety.
Be candid. Tell us about the series…
The Right Person – Chris Dunkin has parents who travel often for business, so he is left in the care of his older cousins who housesit and throw parties. He is exposed to drugs and alcohol at a young age, and it does not take long for him to begin experimenting himself. He then pulls his group of friends into the partying scene, and begins high school as “the life of the party.” But Chris honestly feels lost and is searching for something more than that.
When Darkness Tries to Hide – picks up a month or two after The Right Person leaves off, showing how Chris’ life and relationships have changed. A tornado strikes the town and causes destruction, but ends up teaching an important life lesson to one of the main characters.
The Battle for Innocence – flashes back two years to when Chris and his friends were first exposed to his cousins’ lifestyle. It shows how quickly their innocence was threatened and how easily kids can become desensitized to substance abuse.
The Aftermath – my personal favorite. It follows the quest for self-discovery that one of the main characters, Jason, embarks on. Jason has everything that he thinks will bring fulfillment – high grades, a beautiful girlfriend, popular friends, and every drug that promises enjoyment at his disposal – but he feels empty inside. He knows that something is missing, but he cannot figure out what. After trying to fill the void with relationships, achievements, and substances, he finds himself strangely drawn to a very plain girl in his grade whom he has never noticed. He can’t understand how she can stand for everything he opposes yet possess the very thing he has been searching for all along.
The Forces Within – this is a freaky book. It takes place when the characters are on vacation in New Hampshire and have to seek shelter in an abandoned house. Strange things begin happening, and it becomes apparent that there are supernatural forces at large. The main character is left to figure out if the forces exist within the house or within the people surrounding him.
More to come…