A Psalm for Lost Girls
Author: Katie Bayerl
Publication Date: March 14th, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: Tess da Costa is a saint — a hand-to-god, miracle-producing saint. At least that’s what the people in her hometown of New Avon, Massachusetts, seem to believe. And when Tess suddenly and tragically passes away, her small city begins feverishly petitioning the Pope to make Tess’s sainthood official. Tess’s mother is ecstatic over the fervor, while her sister Callie, the one who knew Tess best, is disgusted – overcome with the feeling that her sister is being stolen from her all over again.
The fervor for Tess’s sainthood only grows when Ana Langone, a local girl who’s been missing for six months, is found alive at the foot of one of Tess’s shrines. It’s the final straw for Callie.
With the help of Tess’s secret boyfriend Danny, Callie’s determined to prove that Tess was something far more important than a saint; she was her sister, her best friend and a girl in love with a boy. But Callie’s investigation uncovers much more than she bargained for: a hidden diary, old family secrets, and even the disturbing truth behind Ana’s kidnapping.
Some Nifty Book Links:
About the Author
When Katie Bayerl isn’t penning stories, she coaches teens and nonprofits to tell theirs. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has taught creative writing in schools and a variety of community settings. Katie has an incurable obsession with saints, bittersweet ballads, and murder. A Psalm for Lost Girls is her first novel.
Q&A With Katie Bayerl
What inspired you to write A Psalm for Lost Girls?
The first seed for this novel was planted during a trip to Portugal. Before my trip, a friend sent me an article about the Lúcia dos Santos, the last of child saints of Fátima, and one hot afternoon, I took a bus to the Basilica of Our Lady Fátima to learn more.
In 1917, Lúcia and her two cousins allegedly witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary. The cousins passed away young, leaving Lúcia to carry their story. She joined a convent as a young woman and remained a nun until her death at age 97.
I couldn’t stop asking myself what it would be like to be in her position, on track to sainthood at such a young age. What if, at age 16, she had a change of heart? What if all she wanted to live a normal life, make mistakes, fall in love?
So many stories begin with that type of “what if” question. In this case, the question spoke to something personal. You see, I was a labeled gifted (academically) at a young age. It was a label that weighed heavy at times and one I struggled to live up to at others. Sometimes, it felt like that was all I was.
But, of course, no person can ever be reduced to one thing.
I wanted to explore that idea—all of these questions and tensions that come along with being “gifted.” I wasn’t sure how I to tell that story, though, until a girl named Callie popped onto the page—angry, grieving, and desperate to tell the world about the mess that her sister’s gifts had left in their wake.
Books about family are essential – do you have any siblings or family members that you considered your best friend growing up?
Yes! I have a younger cousin who was like a sister to me growing up. Our moms were each other’s best friends, and we had summer homes around the corner from each other. We were together constantly, keeping each other entertained with all sorts of schemes and driving each other nuts too. I won’t lie. Family love is messy, especially in a big family—our grandparents had nine kids! My cousin and I stuck together, hiding in each other’s rooms when we couldn’t handle the crowd, and cracking each other up with jokes that didn’t make sense to anyone else.
(I have a baby sister too—12 years younger—and she is my heart. I think we’re supposed to be grownups at this point? But we basically spend all of our time sending each other ridiculous animal gifs.)
What was your favorite part about writing A Psalm for Lost Girls?
I had the most fun writing the scenes between Callie and Tess. I love how their personalities play off of each other and how you get to see a tender side of (smart, tough, no-nonsense)
Callie through her sister’s eyes. I also love how warm and silly and all-over-the-place Tess can be; her chapters just poured out of me.
I’ll admit, I had a lot of fun writing the creepy scenes with little abducted Ana, too. That voice—agh—I’m not exactly sure where it came from, but it transported me!
How do you avoid distractions while writing?
When I’m in the zone, nothing else exists. The trick is getting there. Sometimes I have to turn off the wi-fi to stop myself from mindlessly flipping over to social media. Music helps me too. I have a playlist for each novel, and certain songs plunk me right back into the story.
What books are on your nightstand right now?
Do you really want to know what a mess my TBR situation is? I have a huge problem: way too many books, not nearly enough time, and a late-fee phobia, which puts library books ahead of the pack and creates a major backup.
But you asked, so…
Almost overdue, must hurry: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Half read and eager to finish (damn you, library interruptions!): The Regional Offices Are Under Attack by Manuel Gonzales; The Lonely City by Olivia Lang; Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Up next: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore; Swing Time by Zadie Smith; The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Recently read/loved and really should put on a proper self: Maud by Melanie Fishbane; Monterrey Bay by Lindsay Hatton
A lot of adult books right now! I flip back and forth. I bet there’ll be another YA binge coming soon…
Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl (ARV: $17.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 27, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 29, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
March 13 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Author Q&A
March 14 – Butter My Books – Guest Post
March 15 – Margie’s Must Reads – Spotlight
March 16 – Cynsations – Gust Post
March 17 – Ex Libris – 10 Favorite Moments from Psalm for Lost Girls
March 20 – Forest of Words and Pages – Like/Try/Why
March 21 – That Artsy Reader Girl – Debut Dish
March 22 – Twinning for Books – Review
March 23 – Mundie Moms – Review
March 24 – The Children’s Book Review – Guest Post