Stacy Padula is a young adult author on a mission.
Yes, she writes books that entertain. But Stacy Padula's also focused on telling stories that accurately reflect the pressures and situations that today's high school students face.
In fact, that's why Padula started writing in the first place. As she relays in the interview below, Padula was a teenager herself when she realized that the books she read weren't authentic to her day-to-day experience.
And while Stacy Padula is no longer in high school, she maintains a strong connection to her target audience. She's the founder and president of a college consulting and tutoring business in Plymouth, MA.
On the book front, Stacy Padula is the author of seven books. Five of the books comprise the Montgomery Lake High series, while her two most recent books kicked-off the Gripped series.
Stacy Padula's latest book is Gripped Part 2: Blindsided. (paid link)
Padula's latest book is Gripped Part 2: Blindsided.
In the interview below, Padula covers writing about addiction, her Christian faith, and hiring her target readers as interns.
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Q&A with Stacy Padula
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I currently reside in Plymouth, MA, with my husband Tim and my two dachshunds, Briley and Baxter. We are all avid sports fans – yes even the dogs! My favorite hobbies (aside from writing) are skiing, traveling, and planning events.
I grew up in Pembroke, MA, and attended Silver Lake Regional High School. Afterward, I moved to Boston and attended Wentworth for five years, where I studied Architectural Engineering and Interior Design. Upon graduating, I worked for an architect firm in Boston for two years before leaving the A&D field to begin a career in education.
I worked as the director of a private education company in Medfield, MA, for eight years before starting my own college counseling company in 2016 (South Shore College Consulting & Tutoring). I primarily work with juniors and seniors in high school, and their families, by helping students select their majors and best-fit colleges. I also help them craft their admissions essays, fill out applications, and prepare for the ACT, SAT, and Subject Tests.
Stacy Padula On Working with Teens
What attracted you to work with adolescents?
I have always had a passion for working with the youth. Even when I was in high school, I looked out for the younger girls. There is something inside of me that just wants to share the lessons I have learned with others to keep them from painful experiences. I left my career in design to pursue one in education because I wanted to work full time with the youth in a helpful way.
How has that work informed or impacted your fiction?
Greatly. My students often share their high school experiences with me. This allows me to bounce ideas off of them and keep the content of my books very relevant to today’s teenage world.
I have also hired ten high school and college aged interns to work for my two book series (The Gripped Series and The Montgomery Lake High Series). My interns read each of my books and provide me with very valuable feedback. They also write articles about the books that are published online.
How did you go from working with teenagers to writing young adult fiction?
I actually began writing young adult fiction when I was a teenager. I wrote the first draft of Montgomery Lake High #1: The Right Person when I was only 13 years old.
I was inspired to write it because I felt like the books I had read before entering middle school did me a disservice. They idealized everything; they did not accurately depict the peer pressure and social issues that were prevalent, and they left me ill-prepared for what I was about to face socially as an adolescent.
Therefore, I wanted to write a realistic book so that kids younger than me could read it and truly be prepared for what they were going to face in both middle school and high school.
As a teenager, I also wrote the first drafts of When Darkness Tries to Hide and The Forces Within, only to revisit them after graduating college—when I decided to continue working on the series. I began editing the drafts I had written, adding to them, and writing additional books to connect the series.
The Right Person was published in 2010, followed by When Darkness Tries to Hide in 2011, The Aftermath in 2013, The Battle for Innocence in 2014, The Forces Within in 2014, and Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told in 2019. Gripped Part 2: Blindsided was released on July 1st of this year. Gripped Part 3: The Fallout is currently being edited, and I am in the middle of writing Gripped Part 4: Smoke and Mirrors.
Stacy Padula Talks Addiction in Fiction
Drug addiction has played a role in some of your books, including in your most recent novel, Gripped Part 1. Why?
I have seen substance abuse ruin too many lives, young lives—promising lives—and it devastates me. I have lost friends and family members to addiction. I have seen careers, relationships, and dreams ruined by drug use.
I know people who began experimenting with drugs without considering the risks or repercussions. Honestly, I do not think they were informed.
Therefore, I set out to write entertaining books for teens that educate them about the effects different drugs have on individuals and the people in their lives. It is my hope that teens will read my books and as a result know a lot about benzos, painkillers, amphetamines, and club drugs before they come face to face with them so they can make informed decisions.
What are the challenges, if any, to writing about teenagers and addiction?
The only challenges I have encountered have been getting parents and school systems to see the need for books that address timely social issues such as substance abuse in realistic and relatable ways.
Belief and Writing
What role does your Christian faith play in your storytelling?
My Christian faith is the backbone of my existence and the inspiration behind all of my creative endeavors. I pray before I write, asking God to give me the words to say and to fill my mind with the stories He wants to tell. I am continually amazed by what comes to my mind and how the stories come together at the end without any planning whatsoever on my part.
I do not outline my books before I write them, but rather, I write to discover what happens next. I write as I feel inspired to write.
It is important to note that when I studied a variety of religions and arrived at the sound conclusion that Christianity was the one that made the most sense, had the most evidence pointing towards its truths, and aligned best with historical events, my life completely changed. I am a perpetual student who researches topics of interest regularly. My favorite courses in school were always math and science, and I am very scientific in all that I do.
When I opened up my heart to Jesus Christ, believing that he willfully died on the cross for my sins out of love, I changed without even trying to change. I gained new interests in hobbies and fields that brought me an immense amount of joy, and I lost interest in activities I never realized had been rather destructive. Suddenly, my life had new meaning, and I was much more self-aware.
I found fulfillment when I put my faith in Jesus Christ—fulfillment that I never found through relationships, hobbies, or social activities. The joy I have derived and the lessons I have learned since I welcomed Christ into my heart fourteen years ago have shaped me into the educator, friend, wife, daughter, and author I am today.
This great sense of fulfillment and purpose is something I hope everyone can find in their lifetime, which motivates me to write about the power of faith in my books.
Have you read any good books lately?
Josh McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter (paid link) – an amazing, life-changing, eye-opening read!
Lastly, anything else you'd like Bidwell Hollow readers to know about Stacy Padula or your work?
I am currently working with a movie producer in Los Angeles, who is interested in pitching my “Montgomery Lake High” book series to investors for a movie. My “Gripped” series is also being transcribed by a scriptwriter so that we can pitch it to networks for a TV show.
Thank you to Stacy Padula for this interview. You, too, could be featured on this blog. Use this website's contact form to reach out.
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