A beautiful work of magical realism, a story about a girl in the real world who is called upon to be a hero.
When terrorists bomb Disney World, seventeen-year-old Iris Spero is as horrified as anyone else. Then a stranger shows up on her stoop in Brooklyn, revealing a secret about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Iris’s birth, and throwing her entire identity into question. Everything she thought she knew about her parents, and about herself, is a lie.
Suddenly, the press is confronting Iris with the wild notion that she might be “special.” More than just special: she could be the miracle the world now so desperately needs. Families all across the grieving nation are pinning their hopes on Iris like she is some kind of saint or savior. She’s no longer sure whom she can trust—except for Zane, a homeless boy who long ago abandoned any kind of hope. She knows she can’t possibly be the glorified person everyone wants her to be… but she also can’t go back to being safe and anonymous. When nobody knows her but they all want a piece of her, who is Iris Spero now? And how can she—one teenage girl—possibly heal a broken world?
"Transcendent is a beautiful and lovingly-written book about the power of hope. You’ll lose yourself in its pages. And when you emerge, you will see the miracles that surround you, and the ones you can create."—Francisco X. Stork, author of The Memory of Light
"The miracle in Transcendent isn't just the miracle of Iris's birth. It's the everyday miracles we are all capable of performing—love, compassion, understanding. Ultimately it's a story about the miracle of humanity."—Jennifer Brown, author of Hate List
Mina is seventeen. A virgin. And pregnant.
Mina is top of her class, girlfriend to the most ambitious guy in school, able to reason and study her way through anything. But when she suddenly finds herself pregnant—despite having never had sex—her orderly world collapses. Almost nobody believes Mina’s claims of virginity. Her father assumes that her boyfriend is responsible; her boyfriend believes she must have cheated on him. As news of Mina’s story spreads, there are those who brand her a liar. There are those who brand her a heretic. And there are those who believe that miracles are possible—and that Mina’s unborn child could be the greatest miracle of all.
"Katelyn Detweiler has accomplished something exceptional—a poignant novel that balances delicate issues of religious heresy and bullying with heartwarming moments of faith, love, and personal strength. With a protagonist who is smart, honest, and surprisingly relatable given her circumstances, Mina’s story will guide readers down a path of introspection and force us to consider how we, too, might react to a modern-day miracle."—Marissa Meyer, The New York Times bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles
"Detweiler's smart writing moves quickly and entertains, particularly with Mina's appealingly bright voice. Even as the story probes its mystical underpinnings, the focus remains firmly on Mina right through to the end. Detweiler's ambitious debut takes an intriguing premise and executes it well."—Kirkus Reviews
"Immaculate is a bewitching and thought-provoking story about the strength and faith required to face a contemporary miracle. This one begs for a sequel."—National Book Award Finalist Deb Caletti
"Katelyn Detweiler’s Immaculate is a vividly-imagined story about magic, faith, and family. Her heroine’s wildly unlikely teenage pregnancy leads to more than just a brutal break-up and national scandal; it allows for an exploration of essential questions about sex, identity, and what belief means to human beings. In a lovely and uplifting twist, Immaculate gives us girls who believe in themselves and each other, girls who move forward—in spite of extremely difficult circumstances—to create joy, love, and new life."—Rachel DeWoskin, author of Blind and Big Girl Small
"[The] message is more about faith in general than a specific set of beliefs. A unique page-turner mixing humor and heart, this is a thought-provoking take on miracles and motherhood."—School Library Journal
"It's a sincere, romantic, and secular story of birth, young motherhood, and new love."—Publisher's Weekly
Katelyn Detweiler was born and raised in a small town in eastern Pennsylvania, living in a centuries-old farmhouse surrounded by fields and woods. She spent the vast majority of childhood with her nose in a book or creating make-believe worlds with friends, daydreaming about how she could turn those interests into an actual paying career. After graduating from Penn State University with a B.A. in English Literature, emphasis in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies, she packed her bags and made the move to New York City, determined to break into the world of publishing. She worked for two years in the marketing department of Macmillan Children’s Group before moving in 2010 to the agency side of the business at Jill Grinberg Literary, where she is currently a literary agent representing books for all ages and across all genres.
Katelyn lives, works, and writes in Brooklyn, playing with words all day, every day, her dream come true. When she’s not reading or writing, Katelyn enjoys yoga, fancy cocktails, and road trips. She frequently treks back to her hometown in Pennsylvania, a lovely green escape from life in the city, and her favorite place to write.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I believe my first fully realized writing project was “Henrietta the Turkey,” a stunning Thanksgiving Day saga, immediately captivating readers with its timeless hand-traced turkey construction paper cover. So that was… first grade, maybe? I was a daydreamer and a storyteller for as long as I can remember. My childhood playtime was based firmly in many worlds of make-believe – me and my friends playing house out in the fields and woods, using mud and rocks and sticks to build our pretend food and furniture; creating our own restaurants, complete with menus and logos and décor; making up bands and writing our own songs, hosting little plays and musicals and singing contests (usually with an audience of one: my mom). I credit all that “playing” with shaping my imagination and my penchant for “make-believe” that I treasure so much today.
As for actually translating imagination into black and white words on a page, I wrote short stories for creative writing classes in college, but I thought the chances of ever being an actual author were up there with winning the lottery or marrying a prince. It wasn’t until I worked in publishing – first in the marketing department for a children’s publisher, and now as a literary agent – that I realized how much I was dying to write down my own words.
Where did the idea for Immaculate first come from?
I have always – for as long as I could speak words, pretty much – been a big proponent of hypothetical questions. All who come into my path: Beware! I’m endlessly fascinated by what if and would you rather sorts of bizarre quandaries and predicaments, and few escape my brutal inquiries. It’s these sorts of questions and issues that drive my writing interests as well – walking characters through the moments where they’re faced with these sorts of crazy, monumental dilemmas. Take Immaculate, for example. The very first seed for this story was planted in my subconscious sometime during my teenage years, when during a long car ride with my mom, and a long string of what ifs, I asked: “Would you believe me if I said I was a pregnant virgin?” My mom looked at me, cocked her head, and smiled. And then she said yes.
It was almost ten years before this idea started growing on paper, becoming actual words and characters and places—but it was always there, simmering. Waiting for me to realize that it was a story I just simply had to tell. I went to The Strand one day to buy a few books about the Virgin Mary, and from there it just took off.
What’s your writing process?
Process! Ha. I (really) wish I had a process. The only notable “process” I have is that typically, when writing, I need to be wearing a warm, fuzzy hat and/or a hoodie on my head. I swear, it heats up the brain! Gets ideas flowing! Yep, even in the summer. Beyond that, I’ve never been great at outlining the plot from the start – I learn as I go, experiencing each twist and each turn with my characters, in real time. I find this absolutely necessary in terms of capturing their gut feelings and reactions and responses; I don’t know exactly how they’ll handle something until it’s happened, and then we deal with the fallout together. I certainly wouldn’t say this is the best / ideal / most effective way to write – I work with authors who are absolutely masterful at outlining, and I so admire that – but everyone’s brain works differently. Mine works slowly, and only with a cap on. Go figure. We all have to embrace our own writing styles and strengths, our quirks and eccentricities. Every writer is different, and that’s okay!
How do you balance the author / agent dual roles?
I actually find that the more I read and editorially engage with clients’ work, the more I learn about my own writing, too, even if it’s totally subconscious. Even just reading from the slush pile, seeing what works and what doesn’t work in any given story, is incredibly valuable. I once took a writing class where one of the students claimed they didn’t read – they were “just a writer, not a reader” – and I had to politely hold back a laugh. I strongly believe that reading, a lot and all kinds of different things, is crucial in discovering your own voice and your own story.
Who designed your lovely website?
My multi-talented big brother, Peter Detweiler! He’s been my go-to tech guy since the day my family got our first Commodore 64 computer in 1989, and probably the reason I’ve never had to learn how to do anything gadget-related or tech-savvy of my own. (Thanks, brother!)
October 15, 2016
Indian Valley Public Library, Telford, PA100 E Church Rd, Telford, PA 18969
Hometown Launch Party - more details to come!