Author Interview: Chelsea Pitcher of S-Word


Title: The S-Word
Author: Chelsea Pitcher
To be published on: May 7, 2013 by Gallery Books
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First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.



Chelsea Pitcher is a native of Portland, OR where she received her BA in English Literature. Fascinated by all things literary, she began gobbling up stories as soon as she could read, and especially enjoys delving into the darker places to see if she can draw out some light. |


Hi, Chelsea! It’s so nice to have you here with us today. It’s always a pleasure to talk with authors and discuss their works. So first question, let’s talk about yourself first. What are your favorite Young Adult / New Adult reads?

Hi Faye! Thanks so much for having me. Some of my all time favorites are The Modern Faerie Tale series by Holly Black and Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block. More recently, I really enjoyedVengeance Bound by Justina Ireland and Rush by Eve Silver.

Second question, what was your favorite book growing up? What lesson/s did you learn from it that you carry until today?

I really loved The Chronicles of Prydain (The Black Cauldron series) by Lloyd Alexander. They dealt a lot with identity and personal strength, and featured a heroine who was supposed to sit around knitting and being proper, but who was more comfortable going into battle with her friends.

Now, let’s get to business. What inspired you to write The S-Word?

I think people have become far too comfortable flinging around hurtful words, and I wanted to write a story that really focused on the affect these words can have. It may seem harmless, whispering a word to a friend, but when people collectively use labels to bully, it can have a devastating affect, and make a person feel like they’re not worthy of being accepted, or even worthy of living.

It’s a novel that contains a lot of sensitive themes. Did you have a hard time writing about it? Did you do a lot of research?

All of the major themes in The S-Word are things that I, or people close to me, have encountered at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, things like bullying and abuse have become so common, it’s hard to find anyone whose life hasn’t been affected either directly or indirectly. So I didn’t do an immense amount of research in the traditional sense; my whole life has been spent researching these topics, by experiencing or observing them.

Obviously, this is a story that is much more than what meets the eye. What scene or part of the book did you struggle to write the most? 

I had a hard time getting the graduation scene right. In an earlier version, things weren’t nearly so climactic. I think I was afraid of all the potential disasters that could occur in that scene, and how it would feel to put myself right in the middle of it. But in the end, I’m really glad I pushed myself (and glad my editors pushed me) to make the scene as real as it could be.

Which of the characters is your favorite and is like you in terms of personality? Which of the characters did you struggle to write the most? Which of the characters was easiest for you to write?
A lot of the characters have pieces of me in them, but I think my favorites are Angie and Jesse. It may sound weird to hear that I share similarities with both of them, because they’re so different, but both Angie’s cynicism and Jesse’s hopefulness resonate with me. And both of their personalities were pretty easy to write. Lizzie, on the other hand, was really difficult to portray correctly. In the beginning, I could hear Angie’s voice in my head so clearly, but Lizzie was shy. It took several months, and many rewrites, before I felt I got her story right.
Can you tell the readers the number one message in your novel you would like them to learn from?

People who lash out at you aren’t happy with their lives. They’re just trying to find something else to focus their hatred on, because they’re tired of hating themselves. But trust me, their cruelty isn’t about you. It’s about them.

Thank you for your time. Do you have any personal message to the readers?

You are awesome! Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. And thank you so much for reading!


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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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