Author Ellie Terry has used her real life experiences to write her middle-grade novel: Forget Me Not. We were lucky enough to get our hands on a copy! Learn all about the novel and our thoughts on it below:
Review of Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
Written beautifully and earnestly, Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry is an enlightening story filled with heart. The novel follows Calliope June as she is navigating life at a new school. She has Tourette syndrome and with that comes a lot of challenges when it comes to making friends. It doesn’t help that her mom keeps moving their family around, something that Callie is so sick and tired of doing.
The novel is written in multiple ways, but always through Callie’s point of view. It goes from verse to prose. The way it is written gives a quiet beauty to Callie’s story. It shows how she sees her world and how she views her own self.
Throughout the entire story, there’s a sense of hope and encouragement. Although readers can sense Callie’s discomfort with everything that’s going on around her, it’s an empathetic honesty that makes her such an appealing character. This novel deals with acceptance, both when it comes to being open to each other, as well as to your own self.
This story will open your mind and your heart. It will show you what it feels like to feel different just like Callie. However, it’s doubtful that there’s anyone in this world who doesn’t ever feel different which is why this novel will connect to anyone who reads it. Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry is a beautiful, enjoyable read that will give insight to what it feels like to be like Callie. It’ll bring both heartbreak and joy to each and every reader.
Q&A with Ellie Terry
We had the opportunity to to sit down with Ellie and learn more about her, her novel, and what she has in store next! Check it out:
Can you tell us about yourself and what you do?
I divide my time between being a wife and mother to three great kids, volunteering at my church teaching 10 and 11 year-olds, monitoring the lunchroom and playground at a local elementary school, and writing novels for middle-grade readers.
What were you up to before you became an author?
Jobs I had before becoming an author include: receptionist, pizza maker, attendant at a family fun center, cheerleading coach, baton twirling coach, and seamstress.
What inspired you to be a writer?
My 5th grade teacher introduced me to creative writing and I fell in love. When I mentioned it to my 6th grade teacher that I liked writing stories, she suggested to me that I could become an author someday. It had been my dream ever since.
Can you tell us about your novel, Forget Me Not, and what inspired you to write it?
Forget Me Not is the story of a seventh-grader named Calli who attempts to hide her Tourette syndrome from her new school. Calli tries to convince her mother not to move them yet again, especially after she makes friends with Jinsong, the popular boy who lives in the apartment next-door, who also happens to be the school’s student body president. I was inspired to write it after my daughter and I were diagnosed with Tourette syndrome.
How does your own background influence Forget Me Not? Did your connection to the subjects of your novel hinder or help you write it?
Like my main character, Calli, I have Tourette syndrome, OCD, and other anxiety disorders. My experiences with these things 100% influenced how they came across on the pages of the novel. I would definitely say my connection to Tourette syndrome helped me to write Calli’s story.
Do you have plans to write another novel? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
Of course! I won’t ever stop writing. Right now, I am busy working on two middle-grade projects that each deal with themes I feel very passionate about.
Who inspires you the most to write?
Instead of “who,” I’d like to change this question to “what” inspires me because I feel like I most find my inspiration in places and events around me. Traveling to new towns, watching strangers, and trying new things all inspire my writing.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? How do you like to create?
In the very early stages of a story idea, I spend months jotting down notes either in a notebook, random slips of paper I find on the kitchen counter, or on my phone. Sometimes the setting materializes first. Sometimes characters show up in my brain and I have to get to know them. But I always take notes for several months or years and then, finally, when I feel I know the characters and situations well enough, I begin drafting a novel.
Is there a fun fact about yourself that might surprise our readers if you were to share it with them?
I’ve cut my chin open twice in the exact same spot. Once on the edge of a swimming pool when I was six. Once on some ice on the playground when I was nine.
Did you struggle to get published? What was that process like for you personally?
Honestly, I personally don’t know any published author who hasn’t struggled. I queried 40 picture books and 5 novels over an 11 year period (wracking it up, I think there were… 326 rejections) before being signed by my agent.
What advice would you give to struggling writers out there who are trying to accomplish their dreams?
Don’t give up. Find joy in where you are at on your journey right now. Work hard. You will get to where you want to be, but it most likely will be a different looking road than you imagine. Instead of being one straight line, there might be a lot of detours and bumps. Just keep on keeping on!
What do you want kids to gain the most from your novels?
Each story I write is different, each with different themes. But overall, I want two things: One, for kids to not feel so alone. Two, for kids to grow by imagining themselves in someone else’s shoes.
Reading doesn’t come easy to a lot of kids, so they abandon the idea of reading regularly altogether. What advice would you give to kids who hate to read (as well as advice to their parents)?
Poetry, verse novels, and graphic novels are all great ideas for kids who are having a harder time reading or getting into books. They don’t seem quite as overwhelming as a book whose pages are completely filled with words. Parents can also read to their children, or check out audio books at the library!
Now that you’ve published your first middle-grade novel, where do you see yourself going from here?
I’d like to continue writing novels for middle-grade readers until the day I die. Writing is such a huge part of who I am, I can’t see myself ever not doing it. Whether all those stories get shared with the world or not… who knows? But, I will always write stories for the twelve-year-old me who resides inside my heart.
Do you have any final words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers?
Read stories about people like you. Read stories about people who are different than you. Read stories that make you feel, learn, and grow in some way. Bottom line: read!