The Gripped Characters: Q&A with Laurie O’Sullivan

| Written by Laurie O’Sullivan, Dover, Massachusetts |

Laurie O’Sullivan is a 17 year old senior at Dover Sherborn High School where she likes to be involved with sports and extracurriculars. She is part of the National Honor Society and tutors high schoolers who want extra help in biology. She runs on the track team, leads a service club, is part of a women’s group, and is involved with an environmental club. In her free time, she likes to read, listen to music, and play the piano. Her love for spending time with kids is shown through her summer job as a camp counselor and her regular babysitting hours. She hopes to study communications in college and travel a lot in the future!

After reading Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula, Laurie was interviewed about her honest thoughts on the characters and the situations they find themselves in as the novel unfolds.

  1. Out of all the characters, many of whom are in bad situations, who do you feel bad for and why?

I feel bad for Taylor Dunkin because he got swept away by opiates after his injury. Everything he had been so proud of came falling down and he turned towards drugs to feel not only physical relief, but mental relief too. He had so much potential and was used to being “top dog” at his school, his life fell apart very quickly. 

  1. Who frustrates you? 

Luke Davis frustrates me the most because he enables a lot of the issues in Montgomery High. Being the middleman is definitely a hard position to be in and can get him in even more trouble than Taylor. He fell down this path not because of an injury, but because of a lost relationship. It seems as though falling into opiates through an injury seems easier and it could be easier to prevent in Luke Davids’ case. This seems ignorant to say but as a reader it is a frustrating situation.  

  1. Who do you most relate to?

I relate to Marc Dunkin the most. He was born into a family where talents come naturally to his siblings more than him. I feel this in my own life with my family and I can relate to the pressure he puts on himself because of this. He’s social and has a lot of friends but still cares about sports, academics and family. 

  1. Who is your favorite character at this point in the series? 

I like Taylor because his personality and storyline is so nuanced and the reader gets to know him arguably the most out of the characters. I feel bad for Taylor, annoyed by Taylor, and grow to like him all within the same book.

  1. Do you hate anyone?

I can’t say I “hate” any of the characters, but Jason Davis definitely frustrates me because he has so much potential and he knows it, but he gets caught up in bad situations, like drugs, so easily. 

  1. There are a few different storylines running through Gripped Part 1 because it is setting up the rest of the series. Whose storyline do you find the most interesting?

The storyline of Taylor and the police was definitely the most interesting for me. There’s constant trouble and it makes for the most exciting storyline that pulled me in the most. You never really know what’s coming next with Taylor, and it makes for a very intriguing read. 

  1. Gripped Part 1 sets up the rest of the series but leaves a lot of things “hanging.” What are you most curious to uncover by reading Gripped Part 2?

The entirety of Gripped Part 1 is one large cliffhanger. This is crucial for the reader to want to dive into the next book. I not only want to know the immediate outcomes of crumbling relationships and kids getting in trouble, but how their lives will pan out as they move forward into college and the rest of their lives beyond Montgomery Lake High.


Now being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman!

In high school, Taylor Dunkin broke more records than any other athlete to step foot in Montgomery, Massachusetts. As a sophomore in college, he was ranked by ESPN as one of the NFL’s top 100 prospects. However, his aspirations came to a jarring halt when a season-ending injury sent him spiraling into a dark world of pain, depression, and addiction.

One year later, Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential investigation headed by the Boston Police Department. He has entangled himself in a crime ring notorious for pushing drugs on local college campuses. Montgomery’s hometown hero has fallen hard, and he’s taking a lot of people down with him.

Luke Davids has become the middleman between Taylor and teens in Montgomery who want to buy drugs. Freshmen Cathy Kagelli, Chris Dunkin, and Jason Davids are just a few of the students at Montgomery Lake High who have fallen victim to the benzos and opiates supplied by Taylor and Luke.  

When Taylor’s youngest brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious amount of pills circulating around his high school, he sets off to not only reverse the damage Taylor has caused, but also save his lifelong role model from becoming a casualty of America’s deadly opioid epidemic.

Published by Author Stacy A. Padula

Stacy Padula has spent the last 14 years working daily with teenagers as a college counselor, mentor, and life coach. She was named "Top Inspirational Author of the Year" for 2022 by the International Association of Top Professionals (New York, NY). In 2021, she was broadcast on the famous Reuters Building in Times Square as "Empowered Woman of the Year." Her Gripped book series is currently being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman. She is the founder and CEO of Briley & Baxter Publications: a publishing company that donates a portion of its proceeds to animal rescues each month. She has edited and published a variety of titles, including Boston Bruins Anthem Singer Todd Angilly and Rachel Goguen's The Adventures of Owen & the Anthem Singer, LaTonya Pinkard of Netflix's Last Chance U's Nate & His Magic Lion, and former NHL player Norm Beaudin's memoir The Original: Living Life Through Hockey. Stacy resides in Plymouth, Massachusetts with her husband Tim and two miniature dachshunds, Briley and Baxter.