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Alex Morel is a writer who lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
Survive is her first novel.
A Q&A with Alex Morel....
How did you get the idea for this book?
I had a friend from high school who spent many years in an institution for cutting and suicidal impulses. There was a moment in his care where two doctors fought over a decision to “push him out” or “coddle him inside the institution.” I thought about that a lot over the years and often wondered whether David, my friend, could/ would stand up for himself. In other words, if a man considering suicide were returning home to take his own life, and was randomly attacked by a murderer, would he defend himself? Would he defend his life? And the answer I came to was a resounding yes! That even suicides would fight for life, and that the base instinct to live triumphs over the darkness of depression, which is a powerful but in most circumstances a learned emotion.
From there, I decided I needed to set up a scenario where survival met suicide, and the main character could face that moment head on. A plane crash in a wintry wilderness provided the perfect setting to play out the story.
How would you describe the book?
I would describe the book as a story of survival on multiple levels. I intentionally created a story that at once would thrill young readers but also hopefully cause them to ponder some significant issues. Readers will enjoy the thrilling tale of survival that any plane crash in the mountains is sure to deliver, but they will also engage with Jane, whose survival is about overcoming depression and suicide which stemmed from a familial history of suicide.
Which is your favourite character in the book?
Jane is the central character in the story and her triumph over depression and her realization at the end that happiness is simply life itself, in all its ups and downs, is what moved me to write the book. I feel like achieved in her creation what I set out to do. I hope teenagers can see a small piece of themselves in her and that her victory over darkness is a beacon for them.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Roughly a year from beginning to end.
How did you do the research for it?
I had travelled in the West before and had been to Montana, so I knew the plane crash would happen there. I knew a lot of the survival stuff from camping over the years, and as for the struggle with depression, if by the time you are forty and you haven’t seen first-hand what havoc it can deliver on the human soul, you probably haven’t been living. I consulted some experts on the specifics with teenagers and then added some of my own experiences to the mix.
Have you written other books?
This is my debut novel. I co-wrote two novels with a friend, but this is my first solo effort. I have a Ph D. in American Studies and wrote my dissertation on Henry James.
One of our Books of the Year 2013 & February 2013 Debut of the Month Tense from start to finish, Survive begins with Jane planning her own suicide on a flight home for the unit where she is being treated. She’s a planner and everything about how she is going to die is arranged. But Jane didn’t know the plane would crash. Suddenly Jane switches from wanting to die to focussing only on staying alive in an icy and treacherous landscape. There is only one other survivor; Paul, a climber. Paul uses his practical knowledge to guide Jane on their perilous journey. But, in the end, it is Jane, inspired by Paul’s love for her and her own growing belief in herself, who makes survival possible. A touching and inspiring story about the development of inner resilience. ------------------------------------------ In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Survive a small number of teenagers were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. 'This novel is not just gripping and exhilarating, it is simply beautiful' Scroll down to read their reviews.
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