Former Lexingtonian Jody Casella returns to sign her first published novel

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comSeptember 19, 2013 

  • IF YOU GO

    Jody Casella signs 'Thin Space'

    When: 2-3:30 p.m. Sept. 21

    Where: The Morris Book Shop. 882 E. High St.

    Learn more: (859) 276-0494, Morrisbookshop.com

Thin Space is Jody Casella's first published book, but she's written several others.

"I am the model for slow and steady wins the race," said Casella, who will sign copies of her book at The Morris Book Shop on Saturday.

Attending a book signing is old hat for Casella, who says she makes it a habit to listen to authors talk about their craft every chance she gets. Being the author, well, that's a different story.

"It was weird to be on the other end," she said.

Weird and wonderful.

The Lexington signing is a bit of a coming home for Casella, who began writing at age 7 and majored in creative writing at Rhodes College in Memphis and entered a master of fine arts program. But according to her bio, "the sheer impracticality of being a poet" steered her toward education.

She lived in Lexington for 10 years, teaching gifted and talented students at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts. She also was involved as a parent in Fayette County's Spanish Immersion Program.

But Casella still felt the itch to write.

So she wrote.

And she wrote.

And she wrote.

Six novels' worth. Five out of six were completed, shopped to publishers and rejected but she kept at it.

"It was really, really hard," she said. "You feel like you are getting closer but not getting closer."

And yet she kept at it. Stubborn, she said.

She found the first threads of inspiration for the sixth novel years ago in some unrelated places. First, she saw a boy get off a school bus in the middle of winter who wasn't wearing shoes. Her son, who went to school with the boy, told her that particular child never wore shoes. Warm weather or cold, he was always in bare feet.

That stayed with her, Casella said. She was fascinated by the quirks in the world. At the same time she was transfixed by the idea of Celtic thin spaces — the belief there are certain places where the difference between the physical and spiritual worlds are thin enough you can actually cross over.

Looping those threads together, Casella wove the tale of a boy named Marshall Windsor, who is searching for the thin space to connect with his identical twin, who was killed in a car accident.

She started writing the young adult novel in earnest after moving to Ohio in 2007 for her husband's job. Her two children were off more on their own, she said, so she decided to stay away from teaching and focus on writing. She admits she might not have been giving writing her all when she was so busy tending to the other parts of her life.

So she wrote, like she always had, except this time she got an agent. They liked the book. They found a publisher.

Now she is doing book signings.

That's a place she really never expected to be.

"I had kind of made peace with it," the "it" being not getting published, she said. But she couldn't give up writing. "I really love writing and I've written my whole life."

When she got the call that she was being picked up by Beyond Words, a small publisher with ties to Simon & Schuster, it was, to say the least, a surprise.

But it is a surprise to no one who knows that Casella has never stopped writing. She continued to write while Thin Space went through the editing and distribution process so she has more work to send out. She even wrote a sequel to it.

And, of course, she has some other ideas.

"There are a lot of things," she said, "that are just sort of simmering."


IF YOU GO

Jody Casella signs 'Thin Space'

When: 2-3:30 p.m. Sept. 21

Where: The Morris Book Shop. 882 E. High St.

Learn more: (859) 276-0494, Morrisbookshop.com

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: Bluegrassmoms.com.

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