On behalf of all 15ers I am pleased to  welcome Catherine Linka, whose debut A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS releases on May 6th, from St. Martin’s Press!


“Gripping, memorable, and heartrending. An ordinary girl becomes extraordinary in her fight for freedom.” C.C. Hunter, author of Shadow Falls series

Ten years ago an untested hormone took the lives of 50 million women. The death threat is past, but the Paternalist Movement, begun to “protect” young women, now controls them. Avie Reveare still mourns the loss of her mom but she’s also dreaming about college, her future, and Yates, the boy she’s always loved. But when her father contracts her into a marriage to a Paternalist politician, her world suddenly narrows to 2 choices: be fearless and run to freedom, or be imprisoned in a lovesless marriage. Neither is safe, and both would change her life forever.

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So cool to share a “fearless” connection and so glad I could catch up with the gracious and very busy author (at work on the sequel, as we speak)! With Catherine juggling numerous interviews being posted surrounding the release of FEARLESS, we cut right to the chase:

SW: In FEARLESS, the Paternalist movement is threatening women’s rights in the USA, with arranged marriages, restricting access to education, rescinding the right to vote… This is a fictional story, yet these are some of the real-life inequities women face throughout the world. Is this why the story is set in real time?

CL: The story is set in the present day, because I wanted to explore what it would be like if teenage American girls were forced to live under the same oppressive rules or law that affect girls today in many developing nations. Imagine growing up in a country that celebrates individuality and freedom to choose one’s destiny, and then because of a catastrophic event, the mood and the politics of the US changes. Fathers want to protect their daughters, but it’s taken to an extreme.

What would it be like, I thought, if you grew up watching movies in which girls had the opportunity to do or be anything, but suddenly you were shut out of college, lost unrestricted access to television and the Internet, had all your phone calls and purchases monitored, and were so valuable your father could contract you in marriage for millions of dollars?

SW: Did you expect you’d be writing Feminist lit?

CL: I didn’t have an agenda in writing this story. I didn’t take classes in college in women’s studies or gender politics. This is speculative fiction, so the story grew out of asking what would happen after a catastrophe. But I was raised to believe in myself, because my dad never set limits on what he thought I could do. He took me backpacking every summer, and taught me how to use a pick and an axe. He encouraged me to get my Masters in Business when I was still in high school.

SW: Avie is inspired by some very strong women. Who are your real-life heroines?

CL: I prefer inspirations to heroines. I’ve always been impressed by female athletes who’ve overcome huge odds: Wilma Rudolph who overcame polio to be an Olympic medalist, or Diana Nyad who after six attempts swam from Cuba to the US at 60! I am in awe of Elizabeth I who ruled Britain despite men who tried to keep her from the throne and then tried to oust her from power during her entire reign.

I’m blown away by women who ignore threats to their personal safety to build schools or women’s shelters in extremist controlled areas. And I’m grateful to women like Lady Gaga who create a place in society for outsiders, and celebrities like Angelina Jolie who, instead of indulging in the perks of celebrity, use it to bring attention to those in need.

SW: There are song lyrics and poetry scattered through FEARLESS. How was it writing verse?

CL: I had to laugh when you asked, because I started out as a poet, not a prose writer. My mom used to recite poetry to me, and she loved metric poems like Poe’s Annabel Lee. So I wrote poetry through college. And I’ve always sung funny little made up songs around the house, mainly to my family and the guinea pigs. When I started writing A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS, the songs just appeared almost like the voice of the country. I liked that they showed that Avie’s experience was shared by many others.

SW: As this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of!

CL: A lot of people are afraid of change, but I’ve always embraced it. Leaving friends and family to move to a new city, starting a new degree, traveling to a foreign country, creating a new product or department at work are all things I’ve done numerous times.

And while I’m comfortable challenging myself emotionally, I am scared of going downhill fast. Yep, I’m a complete scaredy cat when it comes to skiing downhill, biking down steep roads, or riding a plunging roller coaster.

Thank you, Catherine! You’ve posed serious questions in an action-packed tale (fear of roller coasters aside, A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS is quite the thrill ride!)

Catherine_Linka_10257_highresCatherine Linka is a children’s book buyer at the Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada, CA. Linka received a BSFS from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she studied U.S. diplomatic history, economics, and politics, as well as an MFA from Vermont College, and an MBA from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler School of Business. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

You can connect with Catherine here: catherinelinka.comCatherineLinkaAuthor@cblinka, and email:
Sandra Waugh cropped final.Sandra Waugh grew up in an old house with crowded bookshelves, in walking distance of an old library with even more crowded bookshelves. It goes without saying that she fell in love with the old house in Litchfield County, CT because of its bookshelves and she lives there now with her husband, two sons, and Daisy the snoring goldendoodle. Her debut fantasy, LARK RISING, will be out from Random House September 2014. Follow Sandra on Twitter at @sandrajwaugh.


  1. I gave this to my daughter, who asked for a subscription to Ms. Magazine for her 16th birthday. This is the same child who went as Indira Ghandi for Halloween. Thanks for writing this!

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