"A thoughtful read from an up-and-coming author. Todd will have you smiling and reflecting within the same moment."
"Todd's debut novel is a must-read for anyone who's had to navigate a coming-of-age romantic relationship that calls their entire worldview into question. I usually don't like books centered around teen romance. But Todd's protagonist, Morgan, is such a compelling narrator in such a relatable series of life events that I just couldn't help falling in love. The book reads like a diary confessional, portraying the rise and fall of Morgan's relationship with Wade and a deep-dive into her own identity. Awkwardly beautiful high school dances and exciting first kisses give way to exploring and navigating the real world, complete with snowy days of Netflix and cookie dough. Morgan's struggle to reconcile her Catholic identity with her desires could have been excerpts from me and my college friends' diaries. The author has lovingly inserted details like contemporary song associations and TV shows in a nostalgic homage to the late 00s and early 10s. Great worldbuilding, made me feel like I was really in a teenager's head again. I feel like I just read something big before its popularity exploded. Highly recommend. I'd love to read more books like this. (On a personal note, I particularly related to the protagonist as a young millenial Catholic, but I would definitely recommend this book to anyone regardless of faith. The Catholic aspects are presented as the protagonist's cultural identity and are not heavy-handed or preachy.)"
In 2012, Lindsey Todd was writing for this Reality youth panel as a student from Central Bucks High School West.
Less than a decade later, she has self-published her debut novel, "Closure."
Written in the second person and narrated by a coming-of-age girl who struggles between her long-term relationship with her boyfriend, Wade, and her deeply held convictions rooted in her Catholic faith, "Closure" is a unique reading experience.
Todd’s grasp of human nature and realism as along with her ability to create a conflict which wriggles the readers' hearts from multiple angles make "Closure" essential reading — especially for those pondering the role of their faith to be in their life.
"Closure" is available in Barnes and Noble locations across Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware, through Amazon, and in the Bucks County Free Library System. The following interview with Todd is edited for brevity and clarity.
"Closure" seems semi-autobiographical, at least. Even with how at the end Morgan talks about her career after her and Wade's break up, it matched with a lot of what was in the "About the Author" section. How much of yourself did you place into Morgan, or any other characters, for that matter?
As most authors will admit, I write from experience. I've found it impossible to completely remove myself from whatever creative project I'm working on — my own life, values, and perspective always color my writing. For me, that's half the fun!
Certainly, "Closure" draws upon emotions and relationships I've experienced in real life; that said, "Closure" is fiction, and is shelved as such.
Why did you choose to write "Closure" in a letter form?
It actually wasn't a conscious decision for the storyline to read a bit like a collection of old letters. I didn't realize the epistolary effect of the narrative until much later. In fact, it wasn't until my best friend read an advance copy of "Closure" and gave me the idea to title the final chapter, "Dear Wade," that I decided to run with it.
The decision to write the novel from the second-person point of view, however, was a very intentional choice that contributed to the "love letter" perspective. I love second person point-of-view because it adds a strong element of intimacy to any story, and I think it's underrated in the literary world.
What has influenced your writing most?
If I answered this question as thoroughly as I want to, we would probably be here for a long time! For "Closure" specifically, I was greatly influenced by my college experiences in Center City Philadelphia. I got to know the city so well, and always felt like every outing was an adventure. I wanted that sense of wonder and excitement to translate in the story. Every restaurant, museum, and shop I mentioned were all real places that I enjoyed very much during my time in Philly.
In many ways, "Closure" is not only a love letter from the main character to her ex-boyfriend, but a love letter to the city in which she owes so much of her growth and self-discovery.
In terms of authors and comparable books, "The Light We Lost" by Jill Santopolo and "Why We Broke Up" by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) absolutely blew me away the first time I read them. Both novels address the love interest directly in the story, so that the narrator is talking to them the whole time. That approach was so captivating to me as a reader — it almost felt like I was reading someone's private mail. I wanted to try it out in my own writing!
You used to be part of the Reality panel. What advice do you have for young writers like us interested in careers of writing?
My first piece of advice is to accept that the writing road is not a smooth or easy one. It involves a lot of deviation from the norm.
To be a novelist, it's so important to believe in the worth of your projects and in the value you're providing as an author. It's not unusual to reach out to 100+ literary agents for traditional representation in publishing, only to receive an automated reply that your "work has merit, but it's not the right fit."
At some point, you'll decide that your hard work deserves to be shared, and you'll perhaps take matters into your own hands and self-publish. And when you self-publish, realize the amount of additional work involved: finding a professional editor, a talented graphic designer for your cover art ... and readers.
Most self-published authors have amazing books that never see the light of day, simply because they don't have readers. These days, it is the author's job to write and market their book. I had to become very comfortable with posting frequently about "Closure" on social media to gain any kind of traction. I had to build an engaged platform of readers from square one, and I had to approach local bookstores to make connections with sellers.
Finally, write because you love it, and be your own strongest advocate. You may not become J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer overnight, but you will be more successful than you'd once ever believed you could. Your success will all depend upon how badly you want it.
The importance of your faith is made very clear in the Closure. I am Catholic, too, and it was very interesting to see another young person's (Morgan's) perspective and religious interpretations. I was wondering, though, why did you focus on the using that faith as a guide for sex when there are so many other subject's faith can be used, too?
Let me start by saying that as a Catholic author, I never want to hit anyone over the head with my faith in my novels. Rather, I am passionate about interspersing spiritual themes, conflict, beauty, and truth throughout my creative work.
When I think back to the days of Flannery O'Connor, Evelyn Waugh, J.R.R. Tolkein, and G.K. Chesteron, it saddens me that there was once a thriving Catholic literary fiction scene that has totally ceased to exist. In writing fiction from a faith-based perspective, I feel I'm contributing to a new generation of Catholic creatives, even if there's not a clear market for us yet.
Regarding the focus on chastity and sex in "Closure," I targeted it because it is an area that teens and young adults struggle with greatly. It's also a topic I am extremely passionate about, even beyond the confines of faith.
Today, the hook-up culture has become so prevalent and so widely practiced that young adults never really learned to date for fun as kids nor how to enjoy each other's company without regarding the opposite sex as objects of pleasure. The result is two generations of people — millennials and Generation Z — who find themselves in codependent relationships with partners who are often wrong for them, based on the unstable foundation of sexual compatibility.
Relationships must be more than sex and pleasure to be healthy. The message of "Closure" not only speaks to that from a Catholic perspective, but from a cultural perspective, as well.
Are you working on any other projects that your readers should be on the lookout for?
Yes, always! I plan to publish my second complete novel in July 2021. It falls within the historical fiction genre, and is the perfect read for fans of academia, coming-of-age romance, and the glamour of New York's high society in the 1940s.
If you've read and loved Beatriz Williams novels, my next book is one that you won't want to miss.
For updates, follow my Instagram account: @veritaswords. To learn more about my writing, visit www.lindseytodd.net.