The Author Visits Presents JD Spero

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The Author Visits present the amazing talent, Amazon Breakthrough Quarter and NIEA Finalist, JD Spero. 


Author Visit Details

June 15 – All about JD Spero and her current work

June 17 – Book review of Catcher’s Keeper

June 19 – Guest blog by JD Spero

June 21 – Teaser of WIP and announce winner of author gift


Teaser of Work in Progress

My upcoming book is a Young Adult Magical Realism and deals with issues of peer pressure and performance-enhancing drugs.
Official blurb: Sami, a 15-year-old piano prodigy, finds herself in the middle of a bitter rivalry between the artists and the jocks as she begins freshman year. When Coach Payne positions her at the volleyball net, she gets a jolt of supernatural athleticism and becomes the team’s superstar. The catch? After a winning season, Sami loses her ability to play piano. As Sami tries to break free of Coach Payne’s magic, she also learns the importance of staying true to herself, and loyal to her real friends.
Anticipated launch Fall, 2014.
FIVE FUN FACTS about my upcoming book:
1.       Set in Whitehall, New York. (Renamed Skenesboro in my book). To visit my parents in upstate New York from our previous home in Northern Massachusetts, we’d routinely drive a scenic route through the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. Whitehall is the first town we encounter when we cross into New York. Back in 2003, my husband (then fiancé) and I enlisted the help of a very kind Whitehall town hall clerk to meet us after hours so we could get our NY marriage license en route so we wouldn’t have to take a day off work.
2.       Whitehall is home of Skene Manor—a beautiful Victorian mansion that sits on the crest of Skene Mountain overlooking the village. Skene Manor has a unique history—once privately owned, then a bed & breakfast / restaurant, now managed by a historic preservation society—and is rumored to have been haunted at one point by the ghost of Katherine Skene. Yes, in my book the mansion could very well be considered a character in her own right, spooks and all. How could I resist?  www.skenemanor.org/
3.       This book was originally titled PLAY FOR PANIC, meaning “play volleyball for Coach Panic.” For this book, it was this title that came to me first. The story grew from its play on words. However, Coach Panic is actually the name of a beloved coach at my former high school. Out of reverence to her, I believe I have to change the name (of title and character)…for the coach truly becomes a villain in my book.
4.       Sami, my main character, is a piano prodigy. I am not. When I was a young girl, I took piano lessons for years. At some point, my older brother decided to try his hand at the keys. In three weeks, he surpassed me (I’d been practicing for three years!). I threw in the proverbial towel. My brother was true talent, although his interests went a different way.If I Stay by Gayle Forman was an inspiration to me regarding one’s spiritual connection to music. I also enlisted pianist friends as beta readers and watched a zillion Youtube videos of Ragtime in the name of research for this book.
5.       This book deals with realistic, timely issues—with a hint of magic. The magical “performance enhancing drug” is called Aquamarine and is derived from the gemstone: crushed with mortar and pestle and liquefied. In my book, there is a limited natural resource of Aquamarine in a cave on Skene Mountain, just behind Skene Manor. There is only one way to neutralize Aquamarine’s magic…and Sami is the only one who can do it. But first, she must give up the glory of being MVP and reclaim her piano talent. Will she do it?
Help me title this book! Please vote on the one of the following titles in the comments section below:
–       Scenic Byway
–       Skene Manor (or Skene Mountain)
–       Venomous Volley
–       Locks Passage
–       Aquamarine on Skene

Guest Blog – Book Excerpt Catcher’s Keeper

In Catcher’s Keeper, Alden’s teenage journal is stolen by his brother (Jerry), who publishes it under his name. This stolen, published journal becomes The Catcher in the Rye. In Chapter 24, Jerry is interviewed by a newspaper reporter and addresses some of the controversy mentioned above in the novel. Here is an excerpt of the interview:

(Reporter) “Tell me, what kind of social criticism are you trying to achieve here?”

(Jerry) “Social criticism?” I stifle a laugh. “This could hardly be considered—”

“But you continually use a specific term: phony. You basically accuse others of being insincere and disingenuous repeatedly throughout the novel.”

“Well, my main character does.”

“Yes. Let’s talk about him. Your main character is a loner, to be blunt. Would you say he alienates himself from others or do others alienate him?”

“Um, I guess he alienates himself.”

“Right. From the same society in which he criticizes.”

“Sure. Okay.”

“Some would suggest your main character is condescending, arrogant. How would you describe him?”

“He’s just a kid.” Now I’m feeling defensive. This is Alden we’re talking about. “I would describe him as troubled.”

“Do you worry about backlash?”

“Backlash?”

“Some people—especially parents—may be offended with your main character’s questionable morals and behavior. He lies, smokes. He’s inappropriate toward girls.”

“Actually, I don’t believe his behavior is necessarily immoral. If you look beyond what he says, and look at what he does, you see he’s not a bad kid.”

Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States, although those opposed to the novel were often unfamiliar with the plot itself. Reasons for censorship included: vulgarity, sexual references, blasphemy, lack of morality and familial values, and finally—promotion of rebellion, alcoholic consumption, smoking, lying, and promiscuity.

Jerry’s answers are based on thoughts I’d have as I taught The Catcher in the Rye in an academic setting. Some of Jerry’s answers are based on my students’ reactions to some issues, themes, or symbols discussed in the book. Some answers are how I would imagine Salinger reacting to some of the opposition to his book, as it’s been documented that Salinger was a bit shocked at the attention Catcher received. Salinger had also admitted to its autobiographical content, which I believe was embarrassing to him. This shaped my depiction of Alden and his reaction to his “journal.”


Book Review – Catcher’s Keeper

By: Veena Kashyap

The debut novel, Catcher’s Keeper, by the uber-talented JD Spero, has created quite a stir. Recipient of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Quarter Finalist and 2014 National Indie Excellence Finalist Award is no small feat for an up-and-coming writer. But there is a reason Catcher’s Keeper has garnered such accolades. It is a magnificently written book with a premise that is captivating and genuinely creative.

What if Holden Caulfield was around when John Lennon was shot? What if Holden could have met Chapman, learned of his plan, and tried to prevent the assassination? Catcher’s Keeper answers that question, taking a chapter from history and re-inventing it.

Written from the points of view of Alden, his brother Jerry and their sister Fiona, their story is a study in family dysfunction, of betrayal between siblings and ultimately, finding resolution and fixing what was broken between them. It is through this conflict the groundwork for the culmination of the story is laid.

A secondary antagonist, Mark David (MD) counters the internal-conflict of familial dissension between the three with his lunacy, creating an outer conflict best answered when the siblings merge their intentions to stop MD and serves as a means to resolving the turbulence between them.

JD is a gifted writer. She uses language ripe for the time and paints images that brought me back to my own childhood. My preferred genre is paranormal and urban fantasy. However, I picked this book up for a myriad of reasons, most importantly because of premise. This novel is all literary and wickedly brilliant.

JD’s ingenious weaving of character points of view was nimble, giving a three dimensional look into the experiences that broke then bridged Alden, Jerry and Fiona’s relationship together.

The author’s voice is fresh – unique in its deliberateness and profound in its choice use of words specifically is describing Alden’s perspective of the world, molded by the loss of Allie, the years in solitary, his betrayal by Jerry and the unconditional love of his sister Fiona.

It took me less than two days to finish the book, eager to see how JD would change history. The end to Catcher’s Keeper was both endearing and heart breaking, an apt conclusion to a book that took me by surprise and held my attention until the very last word.

My rating – a must read. Throw caution to the wind and give in to the hype – it is so worth the read.


Interview with JD Spero

It’s #MondayBlogs and as a bonus, here’s an interview with the award-winning author JD Spero. Enjoy getting to know the talented author. I know I did!

Veena: Welcome JD! I am so happy to have you on The Author Visits!

JD: I am happy to be here.

Veena: You know The Author Visits wouldn’t have happened without you – right? I had no intention of following this through but you were adamant I should create the site and follow-thru with my vision.

JD: Smiles.

Veena: So let’s get started. What are you reading now?

JD: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Veena: I’ll have to add it to my list. Which character in a book would you enjoy having drinks and dinner with?

JD: Jay Gatsby

Veena: I liked Robert Redford as Gatsby. He’s the version of Gatsby I’d have dinner with for sure. So tell me, If you could be any character in a book, who would you be and why?

JD: Skeeter from THE HELP because she’s got integrity and guts and harnesses the power of words like nobody’s business.

Veena: I second that. This is one of my favorite questions. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

JD: In my late twenties, I began writing as a way of catharsis during a challenging time in my life. I learned then that writing nourishes me in a way nothing else can. This material became my first, unpublished novel, which I lovingly call my “tester pancake.”

Veena: I understand the part about writing being cathartic. I turn to words as a release too. JD, who or what inspires you to write?

JD: My best writing emerges after processing a poignant experience, something that touched me in a way that makes me see the world differently—even if just for a moment. Writing about my husband running the Boston Marathon was an example of this.

Veena: I love that answer. Here’s a fun question, where in the world would you most like to visit?

JD: Greek islands

Veena: On my travel bucket list too! OK, last question – who is your favorite author?

JD: That’s a hard one. I cannot choose just one. But considering what inspired my book, I will have to say: Salinger.

Veena: Thanks JD! I had a great time – I look forward to our next interview.

JD: You’re welcome! So do I!


Book Information

JD's Book

Book Title: Catcher’s Keeper

Genre: Alternative Historical Fiction

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Page Count: 269 pages

Release Date: February 23, 2014

Awards: 2013 ABNA Quarter-finalist, 2014 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist

Book blurb: What if Holden Caulfield was around when John Lennon was shot? In 1980 John Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman, who believed he was Holden Caulfield, narrator of the classic “The Catcher in the Rye.” After the shooting, Chapman remained on the scene calmly reading the book, which he later offered to police as his statement. “Catcher’s Keeper” asks the question, “What if Holden could have met Chapman, learned of his plan, and tried to prevent the assassination?

Where to buy:

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About JD Spero

JD Pic

Johannah Davies Spero was born near a pristine lake in the Adirondacks and has lived in various cities such as St. Petersburg (Russia), Indianapolis, Dallas, and Boston. She has pursued her love of narrative through degrees in English, Russian, and teaching—and has worked as an actress, a yoga instructor, web design entrepreneur, freelance writer, and high school English teacher. She lives in the Northeast with her husband and three young sons.

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5 Comments

  1. This sounds fascinating. I remember us chatting about it at DFWCon.

  2. JD Spero says:

    Thank you Patricia! My heart grew three times the size at DFWcon. Great writers happen there…and get to meet other great writers. Good luck to you with all your books!

  3. JD Spero says:

    I visited Whitehall yesterday to research my book. Spent a lot of time at the canal, marveling at the canal system that extends from Canada to NYC. I think I found a title, too. LOCK TWELVE (The passage from the canal in Whitehall to Lake Champlain). What do y’all think?

  4. Ginger says:

    Skene Mountain.

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