Inside Mary Crockett Hill’s New Book

Author Mary Crockett (Hill)

My friend Mary Crockett Hill (writing as Mary Crockett) has her second entry in the Young Adult novel market and this one could well make a significant mark.

It’s How She Died, How I Lived and it is an important statement, especially in today’s world. It will be available for purchase Nov. 13 and my guess is Mary will be signing copies for the next couple of months.

The launch is scheduled Saturday, Nov. 24, 2 p.m. at Book No Further in downtown Roanoke, which has become Ground Zero for this region’s authors.

The story is set in our own corner of the world and Mary says it relates the experience “of a young woman who was targeted for murder by a casual acquaintance. While the narrator escapes that fate, another classmate is brutally raped and killed. Set in southwestern Virginia, the story centers on the cascading effects of an act of unthinkable violence in a small community, as well as the pervasive threat of violence that young women must navigate daily.”

Publisher Little Brown says Mary is “one of the most promising new voices in young adult literature” and I’ll enthusiastically second that. She is a fine writer, a mother of many, a professor of English at Roanoke College and a woman who understands the difficulties of growing up in a violent, divided country where kids get confused and depressed.

Mary explains How She Died, How I Lived thusly: “I was following the story of a young woman from my community who had been reported missing. When she was found dead, I felt… I think the closest word is gutted.

“I know it’s a story that plays out over and over again in our headlines–a young woman raped and murdered, left for trash beside the road. But somehow I felt all the outrage, all the grief for those countless acts of violence, in this one young woman’s death.

“I don’t know why it hit me so hard. I think the word ‘friend’ might have been used to describe the killer. He was her ‘friend,’ whatever that could possibly mean. She was kind to him, and he had used her kindness against her–to lure her into an isolated spot where he murdered her.

“How She Died, How I Lived is a story sparked to life by grief and rage. It’s also a story continually seeking the solace of healing.

“I had so many questions that I needed to write–about the far-reaching effects of violence in a community; about friendship; about how young women can face the world knowing with certainty that someone out there, given the chance, would kill them.

“This books doesn’t really answer those questions–but to my mind, it at least puts them out there. Which is about the best I can do.”

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