On top of all that, he meets Grace—the beautiful, outgoing new girl who shakes his very foundation and grounds him at the same time.
What he does is try the medication that’s supposed to make him better, knowing there’s a chance he could just get worse.
Warning: Side Effects may include increased heart rate, dry mouth, interrupted speech, elevated body temperature, and dizziness or lightheadedness upon seeing her smile.
Interview with Isaac Matthews, the main character
Describe yourself in one sentence.
God, how could one sentence describe anxiety disorder? Or is it fair at all to let the disorder define me? How about: Isaac Matthews is determined.
What is the one thing you want and what are you willing to do to get it?
Sometimes I want to be normal—to have the life other kids take for granted. To get through the night without bad dreams. To talk to Grace without stuttering or passing out. But then I realize my anxiety doesn’t make me weak. I’m so much stronger because of what I go through every day. So, really, I just want Grace. Is that wrong?
Who stands in your way?
Myself. But I’m working on that.
Who would you most like to recruit to your cause?
Believe it or not, the most unusual and unexpected people stand beside me when I don’t think I deserve it. I don’t have many friends, but the ones I do have are pretty cool.
Describe the world you live in.
Mostly in my head, which is usually a scary place. Outside my head, things couldn’t be more picture-perfect. Small-town Tennessee, small school, mean kids, nice kids. Normal stuff—the things you live every day.
What event from your past has shaped you the most?
Probably my first anxiety attack. Of course it happened at school, so I’ve had to live that down every day of my life since. But then, things also changed the day she started school at Harriman.
What is your greatest fear?
Can I say everything? No? Then probably the possibility that I’ll always be afraid. That my anxiety will keep me from going to college, following my dreams…talking to Grace.
What are your plans for your current endeavor?
Medicine helps, but I really just have to learn to control my mind. To remind myself when my chest hurts and my pulse races that I’m not dying. I’m safe. I’m loved. But mostly that I’m not dying. I know with some help, I can get there.
Interview with the Author
What’s your latest book about?
The next release, which should be any day now, is the first in a series about some special teens. Chase, the privileged heir, moves to Nashville and begins experiencing psychic phenomena. His visions show him how the Queen Bee dies in the pool, and the next day, his worst fear is confirmed. New and scary, the abilities aren’t his alone. He discovers two other students well outside his social circles who also had hints of what would happen to the popular student. As they work together, far from prying eyes and judgmental ears, Chase discovers as much about himself as he does the murder.
What genre do you prefer to write and why?
I’ve always loved writing for young adults and teens. When I was younger, nothing could pry a book from my hands. I remember the joy and excitement of bookstores and library visits with such sweetness, and I hope to inspire that same connection in other young readers someday.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy writing for adults, though. I’ve got some of those in the works, too.
How did you get started as a writer?
Ha! I wrote my first “book” when I was twelve. I think my mom did me a favor and threw away the notebook. If only she knew what embarrassing gems that thing held. I still dabbled off and on throughout high school and college, but most of my passion was directed toward a stage career in opera. After a car accident and broken leg ended that dream, I returned to writing as a creative outlet.
How many books do you have out?
At the moment, The Kingdom and Side Effects are the only releases. The Oracles of St. Ambrose: Going Under is due out any day now…maybe next week.
What’s the next project you plan to release?
My next project will be the second book in The Kingdom series, The Morning Star. The book picks up just after the first ended, and Lily, our heroine, is in New York, making a go of it at Juilliard without her love. I think it’s a little darker than the first, with some more action and some more insight into Lily.
Name a favorite book hero and why you chose him/her.
Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all-time favorites. I had trouble choosing between her and Anne Shirley, and pretty much for the same reasons. These girls were forward thinkers, determined to see the best in the world while struggling not to fall into the same expectations of the past. They had open hearts and minds, loved with their whole hearts, helped friends and strangers in need, and stood strong in the face of fear. Their creators were, one must believe, strong women, too.
Name a favorite book villain and why you chose him/her.
Oh, I can’t tell you the villain because that would give it away, but the most fun I’ve had reading recently has been my hours spent with Kate SeRine’s Transplanted Tales series. It’s still relatively new, so not many already know the villain. I can’t do that to Kate—give away the secret. I can say, go read it. If you have ever in your life enjoyed fairy tales, you’ll get a kick out these books.
Jennifer M. Barry knows she’s in trouble when people use her whole name, so just Jen is fine. In addition to writing and editing, she loves to drink coffee, consume entirely too much Cherry Garcia, laugh at herself on her blog, and watch live music. Jen lives in Nashville with her husband, Liam. They just bought their first house and are freaking out about taxes, redecorating, return on investment, and a million other grown-up things. Life is officially weird.
Follow Jen on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, or her website. She also runs a blog with fellow author and friend, Melissa Fox. Discover new books, read guest posts by favorite authors, or get some marketing advice from real professionals at Fight for Your Write.