Celebrating Debutantes 2016: The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Celebrating Debutantes 2016 Second Wave

Happy Friday to all!

I am super excited to have author Karen Fortunati and her debut contemporary novel, The Weight of Zero today as part of the second wave of Celebrating Debutantes 2016. The Weight of Zero is one of my most anticipated reads this year. And I’m pretty sure my co-host, Precious is also excited for this book too because of the mental illness theme. We both love characters with dark background and based from the blurb The Weight of Zero is everything we will surely enjoy reading. Add those early recognition, who won’t be excited for this book?

Karen is nice enough to answer questions for me about her writing and The Weight of Zero, so I hope you guys enjoy the interview.

And don’t forget to scroll down to learn more about The Weight of Zero, the author, Karen Fortunati, and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed ARC of this anticipated book.

Interview with Karen Fortunati

What drew you to write a story with sensitive subjects such as depression, bipolar disorder and suicide?

I was drawn to this story because I have many family members and friends who have struggled with different mental health issues. Another big factor is my husband – he is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and through him, I have a good understanding of treatment options.

As a writer, do you feel a sense of responsibility in writing these subjects in your story? If so, how do you deal with this?

This was the hardest thing about writing this story – I felt a huge responsibility in writing it as authentically as possible and with the respect these topics deserve. I wanted to avoid the clichés and tropes like romantic love cures all or using mental illness as a device to spur on another character’s change. So I threw myself into research with the goal that my portrayals would ring true.

I have read a lot of fiction that deals with these sensitive themes, especially last year where YA contemporary novels seems full of it. What do you think makes The Weight of Zero stand out from others?

There’s a number of things that distinguish The Weight of Zero. First, the story doesn’t gloss over treatment. It really dives into the nitty gritty of treatment, taking the reader inside group therapy and individual therapy. It doesn’t shy away from the daily care that’s required when you have bipolar disorder – medication (in Catherine’s case), sleep and stress management, therapy, etc. Second, it’s a realistic representation. It’s clear that Catherine’s first therapist was not the best fit for her and the medications she was prescribed not effective. But Catherine benefits enormously under the care of her second doctor, a new med, in group therapy and from the improved relationship with her mom. This positive outcome from a support network is what sets the story apart.

Catherine is an extraordinary character. What was one of the most surprising thing you’ve learned in weaving her?

She’s got a great sense of humor! And loves to eat. Many times I’d be cracking up or getting hungry!

How did you go putting yourself in the mindset of Catherine, given her condition? Thus it ever affect your own mood writing from her perspective?

The Weight of Zero is a story of hope and while writing certain scenes definitely shook me and made me sad, I always knew the end point and had faith Catherine would get to where she needed to go.

What aspect of storytelling is most challenging for you, and how do you develop your weak areas?

I struggle with backstory – where to insert it, how much to include, whether it should be chronological, etc. My editor did the lion’s share of cutting and pasting in the backstory revisions of this book. I also tend to go overboard on certain descriptions, giving four details when one or two would be more effective. So I try to pare down my language once I get the first version out and go with the most powerful or effective.

What’s next for you after the release of The Weight of Zero? Are you working or planning to work on any project right now?

I’ve excited that I’m almost done with my second YA novel. It’s about a seventeen-year-old girl whose brother gets diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The story explores mental illness from a sibling’s perspective and the secret stigmas we hide from ourselves. I’m also about to start my thesis. I’m in the process of getting a graduate degree in American Studies and thrilled to be working with one of my favorite professors on a paper about Benedict Arnold’s wife, Peggy Shippen.


Author Karen FortunatiKaren Fortunati is a writer of contemporary, realistic YA. The subject of her first book, The Weight of Zero, is mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder, and it explores the shame, stigma and anxiety that often complicate the management of this chronic condition. The issue is personal to her having witnessed the impact of depression and bipolar disorder in relatives and friends. Her goal was to write a story of hope for teens who struggle with mental illness.

Find Karen

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


The Weight of ZeroBook Details:

Title: The Weight of Zero
Author: Karen Fortunati
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover, eBook


Seventeen-year-old Cath knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles meds, preparing to take her own life when Zero next arrives.

But Zero’s return is delayed. Unexpected relationships along with the care of a new psychiatrist start to alter Catherine’s perception of her diagnosis. But will this be enough? This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how the many shapes of love – maternal, romantic and platonic – impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.

The manuscript was awarded the 2014 SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant in the Contemporary YA category, named a finalist in the 2015 Tassey-Walden Awards and won the Serendipity Literary Agency 2013 YA First Page/Novel Discovery Contest.

Book Links:

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | IndieBound | Publisher


What’s up for Grab?

  • Signed ARC of The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati

The Rules:

  • Open to US only
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends September 23rd, 2016
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each second wave feature post!

CD2016 Second Wave Collage

5 thoughts on “Celebrating Debutantes 2016: The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati (Author Interview + Giveaway)

  1. Pingback: Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Second Wave Kick-Off! | BLACKPLUME

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