Erin Jade Lange is the award-winning author of contemporary young adult novels, Butter, Dead Ends, and Rebel Bully Geek Pariah. She is the winner of the Friedolin Youth Book Prize in Germany and the Sakura Medal in Japan. She has also been nominated for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize (twice), the German Children’s Literature Award and multiple state book awards. Her debut novel was a 2013 Teens’ Top Ten Pick, and her books have appeared on several state reading lists. As a former journalist, Erin is inspired by current events and real-world issues and uses her writing to explore how those issues impact teenagers. She is an only child, so she spent a lot of time entertaining herself as a kid. This required her to rely heavily on her own imagination, which is probably why she became a writer. Erin grew up in the cornfields of northern Illinois, along the Mississippi River in one of the few places it flows east to west. She now lives in the sunshine of Arizona and will forever be torn between her love of rivers and her love of the desert.
A: I feel like I write about young people more than for young people. I believe YA books are not just for teens but also for anyone who remembers what it was like to be a teen. It’s such a short but critical time in our lives that shapes who we are forever. To me, there is no more interesting age to write about.
Q: You nailed the cruelty of high school experience. How did you research this type of behavior for the book, Butter?
A: To be honest, I didn’t have to research so much as just try to write reality – the reality I remember from my own experience in school and the reality I still see around me today. I don’t think cruelty begins and ends with high school. Some bullies start young, and some never grow out of it. But I do think the hormonal roller coaster of our teenage years amplifies both the cruelty and the emotional response to it.
At 423 pounds, 16-year-old "Butter" is sinking, both mentally and physically. Despite his sense of humor and musical talent, his classmates and parents can't see beyond his weight, and he's feeling the same way. Bullying incidents and being voted "most likely to have a heart attack" spark Butter's plan to commit suicide live online on New Year's Eve.