YA Feature: Laurel Garver author of Never Gone

*Missing post from Friday*

Interview with Laurel Garver, author of Never Gone

The Author: 

I grew up in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, but have lived in Philadelphia my entire adult life, so rural vs. urban themes come up in my work. I studied English as an undergraduate and studied aboard in the UK my senior year. I went on to pursue a masters degree in journalism, and have worked as a magazine editor my whole career. Choral music and theatre were my big loves all through school. Were I coordinated enough to dance, I might have pursued musical theatre further than my college drama club. Im married to a philosophy professor and we have a ten-year-old daughter who weve molded in our geeky image of loving Dr. Who, Monty Python, Middle Earth and Hogwarts. Im excessively fond of all things British, as only a non-native can be (the grass is more magically green in a place with a queen?).


I wasnt much of a reader as a kid. I preferred imaginative play in which I made up my own adventures. Story writing was something I discovered I enjoyed in school. Sometime between the age of twelve and thirteen, I had so much fun with a school writing assignment that it morphed into my new obsession. All through middle school and high school, I always had a story in the works, though I more often started projects than finished them. Learning to finish came with training.

The book- Never Gone

I think my book trailer summarizes it best:

Never Gone is a grief story that happens to involve a ghost. So theres a supernatural element, even though my overall approach is like most YA contemporary issue books, including a romantic subplot.
The idea of parental haunting is pretty old. Shakespeare uses it in Hamlet, for example. I also was inspired by the TV show Providence (1999-2002), in which a young woman moves home after her mothers death, and often has long heart-to-heart talks and arguments with her mothers ghost. The idea of a parental presence lingering to help a child fascinated me, especially when its unclear why its happening (is it supernatural or psychological?).


After losing my own father, I began reading about grief experiences and how varied and confusing they can be, especially for kids. I got thinking about other circumstances that might make grieving more of a pressure cooker-like being left with the parent youre alienated from, having a family culture that frowns on expressing negative emotions, and coming from a faith tradition that tends to emphasize the joys the departed gains in the afterlife. The question of “how do I cope without my loved one?” will be more urgently felt in circumstances like that.

Getting to know the author book habits:


Favourite book genre and why?

I really enjoy both teen and adult realistic fiction of the “issue book” or “book club pick” variety--stories that marry deep characterization with an active plot (not too slow or too fast). I read to understand life, how people tick. Stories of transformation and redemption that enlarge me as a person are the ones I savor, reread and recommend.

Favourite book series and why?

J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series. Theyre wonderfully complex books, with a just-right mix of serious and funny. The characters develop in amazing ways over the course of the series.

Favourite author and why?

Though she writes only adult books, I love Susan Howatch. My husband says Ive been channeling Howatch for younger readers in my novel. I like how deeply psychological her stories are, and how shes able to weave spiritual themes into edgy stories with very flawed characters. She does redemptive fiction better than anyone I knowfast paced, intriguing, never predictable or cloying, like some Christian fiction can be.

An author you would recommend we check out and why?

American YA author Deb Caletti is one many YA readers havent heard of, though she was a National Book Award finalist (for Honey, Baby Sweetheart in 2005). She writes great, complex, realistic fiction for teens with characters you root for. One of my favorites of her books is Wild Roses, which explores artistic talent and mental illness.

Book News:

What is next for you, do you have any new books in the works?

I will be publishing a poetry collection in Winter 2013.
I have a companion book to Never Gone in the works, as well as a nonfiction writing resource book on deep characterization about halfway finished.

Buy Never Gone:

Amazon (UK)

Book Despository

Amazon (US)



Barnes & Noble

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