Welcome Wednesday: Addressing Teen Issues with Hope Bolinger

Author: Hope Bolinger

Genre: YA Contemporary

Books: Blaze, Den

Den is a modern-day Daniel set in high school. When a mysterious slew of deaths and suicide attempts haunt King’s Academy, Danny suspects foul play. Will he find the killer, or is he next on the hit list? #YAContemporary #newrelease

Addressing Teen Issues

Interview by Jenny Fulton

Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C. Y. L. E. and a published author with Illuminate YA and INtense Publications. While she writes in a variety of genres, she sees her niche as being in Young Adult (YA) Contemporary and YA Contemporary with speculative elements. Her latest novel, Den, is a YA Contemporary boarding school drama.

Hope was inspired to write her series, the Blaze Trilogy, when she was in college.

“I was in a Gen-Ed class where we went over the entire Old Testament in a semester. During one of our classes, the professor said, ‘Daniel, and his three friends, would’ve been fourteen or fifteen years old when they were taken into the Babylonian captivity.’ That astounded me. I’d always pictured them in their thirties. But you had these teens who not only stood up for their beliefs, but they thrived in a new culture.

“I wanted to see what that looked like now. So, I created the Blaze trilogy. I essentially break up the book of Daniel into three parts. The first book, Blaze, covers the fiery furnace. Den is the lions’ den. And Vision covers all those strange visions in the latter half of the book.”

“Did you pull from any personal life experiences as you wrote these books?” I asked.

In addition to what I already mentioned, I wanted each book to tackle a different issue that affects high schoolers now. The first book tries to analyze where the American school system falls short. The second book dives into teen suicide, school shootings, sexual assault, and the dangers and benefits of social media. The third book discusses mental health and where our medical systems fall short. I have skin in the game in all of these issues for a variety of reasons. For the safety of some friends, I won’t go super in depth, but know that each of these books hit very close to home.”

Hope shared that writing Den came out of three very hard events, two of which deeply impacted her life. Like others in her line of work, writing was an invaluable tool in the healing process.

“I don’t really know how I feel about something until I write about it,” she said. “This book helped me work through a variety of awful events that had transpired at my college and at local schools in my area.”

“What do you hope readers come away with after reading your books?” I asked.

“I often want these books to encourage people to discuss the hard topics. I was so happy to partner with the sophomore English teacher at my alma mater. She had 100+ students read through the first book and talk about relevant topics within. Although I do try to lace them with humor and heart, I also wanted to leave no stone unturned with this series. Teens are going through some really difficult stuff, way more difficult than when I graduated, and I was a high schooler five years ago!”

It is Hope’s hope that you fall in love with the characters as much as she has, that you connect with the villains and heroes who are laced with both flaws and positive aspects.

Book Blurb for Blaze

If you can’t stand the heat, don’t walk into the fire.

Danny knew his sophomore year would be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.

To make matters worse (and they were about to get a lot worse), he — and his three best friends — receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the town’s prestigious boarding school. Danny wants nothing to do with King’s Academy and says no. Of course his mother says yes. So off he goes to be bullied and picked on for not being part of the popular and rich “in crowd.”

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters hazing, mocking insults from girls at the “popular and pretty” table, and cafeteria food that, for such a prestigious school, tastes as if it were purchased from a military surplus supply warehouse. If he survives, Danny will have to overcome his fears of failure, rejection, and loneliness—all while standing strong in his beliefs and walking into the fire.

Book Blurb for Den

Danny Belte barely survived his sophomore year at King’s Academy, having to deal with horrible initiation practices, stomach-churning cafeteria food, and the constant threat of arson.

His junior year doesn’t start off much better. Facing a series of mysterious suicide attempts that begin on day one–and a disturbing pattern that appears to connect them–Danny has a feeling something far more sinister is at play. He tries to narrow down a list of suspects as those closest to him disappear, one by one.

Can he protect his friends from a possible murderer on the loose? Or will he find himself trapped in a fate worse than a lions’ den?

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