Controversial Content in my Book: PROVIDENCE, by Lisa Colozza Cocca

When I first read the subject for this blog, How do you deal with controversy in your book?, I thought:

1.     Stock up on rose-colored glasses
2.     Run like the wind!
3.     Bury head deep in the sand.

The truth is I never thought of Providence as controversial when I was writing it. I didn’t seek controversy, that’s for certain. The thing I really wanted readers to walk away with was a sense of the goodness in the world; that it is all around us, if only we open our eyes and hearts to it. Then a short time ago, I went to the NESCBWI conference in Massachusetts. One of my crit buddies, Betsy Reilly, was my roomy there. One night, we went to a panel discussion on edgy YA. When it was over, our discussion went something like this:

Me: My book isn’t at all edgy.

Betsy: You think that because we just heard them describing their edgy books in terms of foul language, sex, drugs, and violence. Your book doesn’t have those elements, but it has an edgy storyline.

Me (staring into space): Hmm, my main character does run away from home and is better off for it. I guess that is a little edgy.

Betsy: And she finds an abandoned baby and takes on the responsibility for her. That’s going to seem edgy to lots of people.

As she so often does, Betsy gave me much to think about. She helped me look at Providence in a new way, through a different lens. My initial reaction to this blog topic was that I haven’t written anything controversial. Then I reflected upon my conversation with Betsy and came up with a real answer to the question.

I was oblivious to it. I let my characters tell their story. I tried to stay out of the way and let the story be as true to the characters as possible. I think most emotions associated with books – joy, concern, excitement, and even contention, come from the interaction between the reader and the words on the page, not from the words alone. So I will leave the judgment of the book as controversial or not to the readers.

About Lisa:

I grew up in Cohoes, NY, a small city between Albany and Saratoga. I have lived most of my adult life in Morris County, NJ. It is a lovely place to live – close enough to and yet far enough away from the ‘big city’ New York.

I am happy to be the mother of three adult children and the grandmother of one precious little girl, all who bring joy to my life. I am also lucky to have five nephews and a niece who make me proud, three siblings, and in-laws. Life is good.

I’ve had many jobs in my lifetime. Some were fun; some were not. At the moment I work as a freelance writer/editor of educational materials and, of course, as an author of fiction.

Oh so many! One of my quirks is ironing my money. I have a bad habit of stuffing change into my pockets or into the corners of my purse. This results in wrinkled bills. I feel badly about giving these scrunched up dollars to a store clerk (who must fit it smoothly into the drawer) or a waitress, so I iron my bills to keep them neat.


Posted first on Uncommon YA! A great place to meet new voices in YA. 

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