by Hannah Benson, ’15

UA author Jody Casella released first young adult novel Sept. 10

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Upper Arlington’s Jody Casella published her debut novel, Thin Space, on Sept. 10.

Casella has been writing since the age of seven and completed five novels before Thin Space.

Five years of work have led up to publication. The very first draft of Thin Space was penned during National Novel Writing Month, abbreviated as NaNoWriMo, in Nov. 2008.

NaNoWriMo participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, averaging about 2,000 words a day if they are to achieve their goal, and log their progress on the NaNo website. Winners receive discounts on online writing classes and five professionally printed copies of their novel.

Casella found that the NaNo experience helped her write first drafts quicker and easier.

“It’s a great way to hammer out a story,” she said. “I used to be the type of writer who would revise as I went along, but I can tell you that this method, for me, was crippling. When you revise as you go, you tend to never finish.”

Since the publication of her short story Play Fighting in 2007, Casella has devoted herself to writing young adult fiction.

“My first published story appeared in the teen magazine Cicada,” Casella said. “I loved writing that story, and the voice of the main character, a teenager, just seemed to click with me. Now I can’t imagine writing for any other age group.”

Thin Space follows teenager Marshall Windsor as he tries to contact his deceased twin Austin through a “thin space”: a place where the wall between this world and the world of the dead is thin enough to step through. Marsh walks barefoot everywhere——including school——in an effort to find a thin space. He connects with Maddie, a new student who shares his fascination with the supernatural. Together, they embark on a quest to find the thin space Marshall believes to be in Maddie’s new home.

Inspiration for Thin Space came to Casella from two unconnected sources: a bus stop and a magazine article.

“I happened to see a teenage boy stepping off a school bus barefoot. I wondered why he was walking around without shoes on and what other people thought about him and if his feet were cold,” Casella said. “Around the same time I read a magazine article about the Celtic idea of thin places, places where the wall between this world and the world of the dead is thinner… In Thin Space these two ideas——a barefoot boy and thin places——intertwined.”

Language Arts teacher Laura Moore read and enjoyed an Advanced Readers’ copy of the novel.

“I…loved the way Casella knit together clues throughout the book in an effort to prepare us for the twist at the end,” Moore said. “I am teaching it in my classes this year, so I obviously believe the text would appeal to a wide range of students.”

With a starred review from famously harsh Kirkus and praise from young adult author Jennifer Castle, Moore’s students should have a lot to look forward to.

Image Caption: Jody Casella’s debut novel Thin Space follows teenager Marshall Windsor in his efforts to communicate with Austin, his deceased twin. Marshall connects with another outsider, Maddie, who shares his fascination of the supernatural and helps him on his quest.

Image by Sheridan Hendrix