AuthorsFrom the Wire

­Q & A with Amber McBride

In this captivating Q&A, join author Amber McBride, known for her National Book Award finalist title “Me: Moth,” as she delves into her middle grade debut novel “Gone Wolf.” This dual-timeline tale explores the lives of two Black girls, one in the year 2111 and the other in 2022, touching on themes of grief, depression, mental health in the Black community, and historical revisionism. McBride emphasizes the importance of imagination as a source of freedom and self-soothing, while also highlighting the portrayal of a secure relationship between a Black girl and her therapist. As she addresses the challenges of sharing history accurately in a divided country, McBride hopes “Gone Wolf” can spark thought-provoking discussions and promote diversity of thinking among children and parents. With multiple works in progress, including a young adult Black poetry anthology, an adult poetry collection, and another middle grade novel, McBride’s literary journey continues to evolve and inspire.

­Q  A with Amber McBride

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Background and Inspiration

Amber McBride’s writing journey

Amber McBride, author of the National Book Award finalist title “Me: Moth,” has had a remarkable writing journey. Born and raised in Virginia, she took up writing at a young age as a way to navigate her own experiences and emotions. As an avid reader, she found solace and inspiration in the words of other authors, which ultimately fueled her own desire to create stories that resonated with readers. McBride’s passion for storytelling only grew stronger as she pursued her education, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Virginia.

Inspiration behind ‘Gone Wolf’

“Gone Wolf,” McBride’s middle-grade debut novel, was inspired by a combination of personal experiences, historical events, and her deep desire to bring diverse stories to the forefront. McBride, through her writing, seeks to challenge traditional narratives and highlight the perspectives of marginalized communities. In “Gone Wolf,” she explores the intersection of history, Black girlhood, and the power of imagination.

Themes explored in her work

Throughout her writing career, McBride has consistently delved into important themes that explore the human experience. In her work, she seeks to tackle topics such as grief, depression, mental health in the Black community, historical revisionism, and the importance of representation. By addressing these poignant themes, McBride aims to create stories that not only resonate with readers but also encourage them to think critically about the world around them.

Overview of ‘Gone Wolf’

Plot summary

“Gone Wolf” is a compelling dual-timeline tale that revolves around two Black girls, one living in the year 2111 and the other in 2022. The story follows their journeys as they navigate their own unique challenges and discover their true strengths. In this rich narrative, McBride weaves together elements of mystery, adventure, and self-discovery, captivating young readers from start to finish.

Key characters

In “Gone Wolf,” McBride introduces readers to a captivating cast of characters. We meet the two main protagonists, one from the future and one from the present, who both possess a resilience and courage that drive the narrative forward. Supporting characters, such as family members and friends, further enhance the story’s depth, offering unique perspectives and adding emotional depth.

Significance of the dual timelines

The use of dual timelines in “Gone Wolf” adds a fascinating layer to the narrative, deepening the exploration of themes and allowing readers to draw connections between the past and the future. McBride expertly intertwines these timelines, shedding light on how historical events shape the present and how the actions of individuals have far-reaching consequences.

Exploration of Black girlhood

One of the most powerful aspects of “Gone Wolf” is McBride’s exploration of Black girlhood. Through her characters, she tackles the challenges and triumphs that come with navigating the world as a Black girl. By giving voice to these experiences, McBride provides an opportunity for young Black readers to see themselves reflected positively in literature and for readers of all backgrounds to develop empathy and understanding.

­Q  A with Amber McBride

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Themes Explored in ‘Gone Wolf’

Grief and loss

In “Gone Wolf,” McBride sensitively explores the themes of grief and loss. Through her characters, she delves into the emotional journey that follows the death of a loved one, highlighting the various ways in which individuals cope with and navigate their grief. This exploration serves as a reminder that grief is a universal experience that can bring people together, regardless of their backgrounds.

Depression and mental health in the Black community

Mental health is a deeply important topic, particularly within the Black community, where harmful stigmas often exist. McBride fearlessly confronts this issue in “Gone Wolf,” shedding light on the impact of depression and the importance of seeking help and support. By weaving this theme into her narrative, she destigmatizes mental health issues and provides readers with a valuable resource for understanding and empathy.

Historical revisionism

Through the lens of historical revisionism, McBride challenges traditional narratives and encourages readers to question the accuracy of historical accounts. By presenting alternative perspectives and exploring untold stories, she challenges readers to critically assess the information they consume and encourages them to dig deeper into history to gain a more well-rounded understanding of the past.

The power of imagination

Imagination serves as a powerful tool for self-expression, self-soothing, and personal growth in “Gone Wolf.” McBride emphasizes the importance of nurturing and embracing one’s imagination, highlighting its ability to provide solace, open doors to new possibilities, and empower individuals to overcome adversity.

Importance of representation

Representation is a central theme throughout McBride’s work, including in “Gone Wolf.” Through her characters and their experiences, she emphasizes the significance of diverse representation in literature. By offering readers a range of perspectives and identities, she aims to foster a sense of belonging and empowerment, enabling readers to see themselves and their experiences reflected in the stories they read.

Portrayal of Relationships

Black girl and her therapist

One of the standout relationships in “Gone Wolf” is the bond between a Black girl and her therapist. Through this portrayal, McBride challenges the common narrative surrounding mental health in the Black community. By showcasing a secure and supportive therapeutic relationship, she dispels stereotypes and sheds light on the positive impact that therapy can have on mental well-being.

Impact on the reader

The portrayal of relationships in “Gone Wolf” leaves a lasting impact on the reader. By depicting diverse and meaningful connections, McBride encourages readers to examine and appreciate the relationships in their own lives. The nuanced and authentic relationships in the novel not only demonstrate the importance of support and understanding but also serve as a reminder of the power of human connection.

­Q  A with Amber McBride

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Addressing History in a Divided Country

Challenges of sharing history with children

Navigating history can be complex, especially within a divided country. McBride tackles this challenge head-on in “Gone Wolf.” By presenting historical events and their impact in an accessible and engaging way, she allows young readers to confront difficult topics and grapple with the complexities of the past. The book serves as a valuable resource for parents and educators to facilitate conversations about history and its implications.

Promoting diversity of thinking

In a divided country, promoting diversity of thinking is crucial for fostering empathy and understanding. McBride’s novel offers diverse perspectives and sheds light on different experiences, promoting empathy and encouraging readers to consider different viewpoints. By challenging stereotypes and encouraging critical thinking, she inspires readers to embrace diversity and think beyond the confines of their own beliefs.

Spark discussions among children and parents

One of the primary goals of “Gone Wolf” is to spark discussions among children and parents. The book presents readers with thought-provoking themes and ideas, serving as a catalyst for conversations about mental health, history, and the power of imagination. By fostering dialogue, McBride aims to create a safe space for readers to ask questions, explore complex topics, and deepen their understanding of the world around them.

Upcoming Works

Young adult Black poetry anthology

Amber McBride has an exciting young adult Black poetry anthology in progress. This anthology will be a collection of diverse voices, showcasing the power and beauty of poetry as a means of self-expression and empowerment. Through this collection, McBride aims to celebrate the diversity within the Black community and provide a platform for marginalized voices to be heard.

Adult poetry collection

In addition to her young adult anthology, McBride is also working on an adult poetry collection. This collection will delve into themes of identity, love, loss, and resilience, drawing inspiration from her own experiences as well as the world around her. McBride’s poetic voice has captivated readers in the past, and this collection promises to be a powerful exploration of the human experience.

Another middle grade novel

Lastly, McBride is currently working on another middle grade novel. While details about this upcoming work are still under wraps, fans of McBride’s previous work can expect another captivating and thought-provoking story that explores important themes and resonates with young readers. McBride’s commitment to highlighting diverse perspectives and telling stories that matter shines through in her ongoing writing endeavors.