• What is “Immortal Link?”

    “Immortal Link” is the title of my YA paranormal novel. It didn’t start out as a paranormal, but as I did research for the setting, something took over. Let’s just say I was as surprised as you will be…

  • What is it about?

    It’s about a teenage girl in Jim Thorpe, PA, who has something horrible happen to her (one of her older brothers’ friends rapes her in her bedroom). Because the siblings swear an oath to never tell, she has to figure out how to deal with the horror that is ruining their lives, and what she does to retaliate.

  • What made you write a book like this?

    The rape of a young girl and the oath between her and her two older brothers in the hopes to protect their unstable mother really happened. The mother, who found out years later, told me about it herself.

    I tried to imagine what it must have been like for these three siblings to live through such trauma alone. I don’t know how the boys took care of their sister or how each of them dealt with the aftermath, so that is where my imagination and research come in.

    I also needed a setting. In March 2010, right before St. Patrick’s Day, I watched a documentary about the Molly Maguires, the jail in Jim Thorpe, and Alexander Campbell’s famous handprint. My own teenage daughter is interested in the paranormal and I went online to find out more about the place. The town happened to be only two hours away, so we visited the jail and saw the mysterious handprint with our own eyes. The more I learned, the more things fell into place for my story. I dug up a few characters from Jim Thorpe’s past who had once been very real and influential. The horrible account of the Irish Catholic miners and a fictional family living in present day Jim Thorpe come together for this story set in a richly historic town with a universal plot playing out in contemporary times.

  • What happened as you wrote the manuscript?

    During research a strange thing happened: The setting took over and totally changed the plot. Trusting the “voices,” I followed along and found an ending so brilliant and powerful that I finished the story as dictated by “the spirits in the Old Jail.” The result was a paranormal adventure that asks: “Whose side are you on?”

  • Can you give me a short synopsis about the plot?

    A teenager in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, takes revenge on her rapist and receives more justice than she thought humanly possible.

    Three siblings swear an oath to never tell what happened on that fateful afternoon. But the secret they are hiding to keep the family together is slowly destroying their lives. When fifteen-year-old Catholine Kennan realizes that her older brothers cope worse with the aftermath than she, the victim, she decides to get even with her attacker. The Old Jail seems like the perfect place for what she has in mind, and she enlists the help of a neighbor who hides a secret of her own. All goes according to plan until the spirits in cell #17 recognize the descendant of their worst enemy.

  • Isn’t rape too dark a theme for young readers?

    The story deals with a negative topic but contains a positive, hope-giving message. Despite the theme, there is no graphic sexual content. I was able to convey what happened without getting the novel on the banned books list before it even came out. Catholine has these two cool, gorgeous brothers, the kind every girl wishes to have. They protect and care about their younger sister. They are hot. They are funny. They are also extremely troubled by what happened to her and each one suffers in his own way. Your heart will break for all three siblings, and I would like to know from you which brother you like best and why: dark, responsible Louis, who tries to keep the family together, or golden, free-spirited, athletic wonder Charlie, who would rather die than let his sister’s attacker get away with it.

  • What about sex?

    If you write a teen novel that prudent folks approve of and then tell their kids to read it, they won’t. I write for teens, truthfully, not sugar-coated, which means I show them what can happen when you use drugs or have unprotected sex. The teenage years mean hormones gone wild and drama, everything else is unrealistic. Once teens have sexually matured, society wants them to wait ten years. Some do, but many can’t. I don’t encourage premarital sex, but I know that forbidding it doesn’t work. The best thing to do is to keep the communication lines open and to not treat sex as something bad.

    “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.” (Evan Hardin)

  • What about boyfriends?

    Boyfriends are like colleges. You have the top-tier, highly selective ones that look good but are very demanding and hard to keep up with. The majority is average, but average does not mean loser. The match is important.

  • Can you tell me about the mysterious handprint?

    On his way to the gallows, Alexander Campbell, a body master or recruiter for the Molly Maguires, said: “I am innocent, I was nowhere near the scene of the crime.” Then he slapped his hand against the wall of his cell, and continued: “There is proof of my words. That mark of mine will never be wiped out. It will remain forever to shame the county for hanging an innocent man.”

    And it has remained, though it has been repeatedly scrubbed and painted over. In 1930, a local sheriff named Biegler got so exasperated with the handprint and its attendant notoriety that he had the entire wall knocked out and replaced. The handprint reappeared on the new wall in the same place the very next day. In recent years, a forensic scientist from George Washington University and a police chemist from Maryland performed a professional analysis of the phenomenon. Though they did everything short of painting over the print or literally taking it off the wall, they found no paints or pigments or oils that would explain why the handprint exists, much less why it persists to this day.

    The Carbon County Prison, aka the Old Jail Museum, was closed in January 1995, and reopened for tours in May 1995. The museum is privately owned and operated. The handprint in cell #17 is a chief attraction.

    Reprinted with permission from Sharon C. McGovern

  • Why did you write your book in English, which I understand is not your first language?

    Because I can. I worked hard to learn the language of the country I live in now. Besides, it makes submitting to American publishers much easier :)