As soon as I saw the premise for FOCUSED, I immediately contacted Alyson Gerber for an interview. FOCUSED received a starred review from Booklist, and it provides a necessary look into what life is like with ADHD. I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 17, and it completely changed my life for the better. I have no doubts that Alyson’s book will help a lot of readers.

Clea can’t control her thoughts. She knows she has to do her homework . . . but she gets distracted. She knows she can’t just say whatever thought comes into her head . . . but sometimes she can’t help herself. She know she needs to focus . . . but how can she do that when the people around her are always chewing gum loudly or making other annoying noises?

It’s starting to be a problem—not just in school, but when Clea’s playing chess or just hanging out with her best friend. Other kids are starting to notice. When Clea fails one too many tests, her parents take her to be tested, and she finds out that she has ADHD, which means her attention is all over the place instead of where it needs to be.

Clea knows life can’t continue the way it’s been going. She’s just not sure how you can fix a problem that’s all in your head. But that’s what she’s going to have to do, to find a way to focus.

According to your website bio, you graduated from The New School with an MFA in Writing for Children. What was your most significant learning experience while getting an MFA?

When I started the MFA program at The New School, I thought I wanted to write contemporary YA. I had an almost-finished manuscript, and I was eager to get an agent, publish a book, and prove myself. But I didn’t know who I was as a reader or a writer or frankly as a person. I grew a lot during graduate school. The most significant learning experience happened during Susan Van Metre’s course on middle grade novels. We were given short writing prompts during each class. The assignments helped me realize that writing from the perspective of someone in middle school came very naturally to me, and I found that was a strength I could use to guide my storytelling.

Excellent. FOCUSED centers on Clea, a girl grappling with ADHD. What is something about ADHD that you wish more people knew?

There are so many things! If I have to pick one: I wish everyone knew that people with ADHD can focus. We can be amazing at focusing when we’re interested and excited about something, but we have a difficult time regulating and controlling our attention and also our emotions.

It’s true; sometimes I have to keep myself from focusing too much! Your debut novel, BRACED, is derived from your experience with scoliosis. How did you know this was a book you needed to write? 

I don’t think it was possible for me to start with a different book. I really tried to avoid writing BRACED. I didn’t want scoliosis to define me as a writer or as a person, but in so many ways that was unavoidable. My experiences being treated for scoliosis, wearing a back brace through middle school, and having my treatment pale in comparison to my mom’s treatment, had trapped me in middle school, in my brace. And what I didn’t realize until I finally started writing BRACED was that the only way out of that was to confront my pain.

I’m sure it will also reach people who understand that pain. What are some of your current projects?

I have another contemporary middle grade novel in the works! It will be published by Scholastic, and it’s definitely for fans of BRACED and FOCUSED. You will be the first to know when I can share more information!


Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

This post can also be viewed here

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *