Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its own living death on her again.
But Zero’s return is delayed due to unexpected and meaningful relationships that lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. These relationships along with the care of a gifted psychiatrist alter Catherine’s perception of her diagnosis as a death sentence. This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how some of the many shapes of love – maternal, romantic and platonic – impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.
ADD ON GOODREADS
- A Summer/Fall 2016 Indies Introduce Selection
- Featured in SEVENTEEN MAGAZINE, September 2016
- A Barnes and Noble 2016 Most Anticipated Debut
- An Amazon Editors Favorite YA Book for Fall 2016
- A Shelf Awareness BEA2016 Buzz Book
Kirkus: “Catherine’s acerbically witty narrative voice is razor sharp and often raw, and the confessional tone of her present-tense narration makes clear how overwhelming her pain is…. An honest, informative, and ultimately optimistic novel about living with mental illness.”
How did you become involved with the mental illness in The Weight of Zero?
I didn’t set out to specifically write a story about mental illness. My main character, Catherine, just appeared in my head during a writing retreat. I knew she had bipolar disorder and that she was thinking that a meaningful life with it wasn’t possible. Looking back on the source of inspiration, I think it stems from a number of experiences. First, I’ve witnessed the mental health journeys of family and friends. Second, my husband is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and I’ve learned a great deal about illnesses and treatments. And third, my life has been touched by suicide: the first by a work colleague and the second by an extended family member. So it was probably a combination of all these experiences and memories that brought Catherine to life.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
In addition to suicide ideation, anxiety and depression, this story deals with many other serious mental and physical conditions. First and foremost, I had to make sure that Catherine’s and the other characters’ experiences were authentic. Throughout the writing of this story, I researched and consulted often with my husband to ensure that the portrayals were honest and respectful.
Book soundtracks are a popular writing tool – does, The Weight of Zero have a soundtrack or song ?
These are the songs that I listened to while I was working on this story – not during the actual typing – but when I was in my car or walking my dogs and just thinking about it.
- Cyndi Lauper: “Unconditional Love”
- Mary Chapin Carpenter: “This Is Love”
- White Stripes: “We’re Going To Be Friends”
- Florence + the Machine: “Cosmic Love”
- John Mayer: “Say”
- Florence + The Machine: “Dogs Days Are Over”
- Kelly Clarkson: “Catch My Breath”
- Natasha Bedingfield: “Unwritten”
What books are on your TBR list?
One of my favorite books is WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple so I’m really excited for TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT.
For the YA category, I’m really excited about Katherine Webber’s THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES. I got an advance copy from our editor, Kate Sullivan at Delacorte. I’m only one chapter in and absolutely loving it! Webber is a huge talent to watch for! WING JONES comes out March 14, 2017.
Besides writing – what is your other talent?
I’m really good at cleaning and organizing.
What question do you wish we had asked?
What’s next for you?
I’m finishing another serious yet hopeful contemporary young adult novel that looks at a young woman’s experience at the often-dangerous intersection of mental health and law enforcement. Bipolar disorder is at the heart of this story too but this time it’s seen through the eyes of a sibling and it examines the secret prejudices we may carry. This book will also be published by Delacorte/Penguin Random House but we don’t have a release date yet.