Debut thriller explores a post-collegiate coming-of-age through whirlwind romance, risk, and regret


BOSTON, MA – “The Way You Burn” (She Writes Press, April 14, 2020), explores one young man’s attempts to understand the complicated pasts of his loved ones by unraveling the vast webs of secrets they’ve kept hidden. Yet as he uncovers their stories, he learns about the inescapable injustices faced by the women he’s known and the true depth of the human heart.

When David approaches his New Hampshire cabin one cool October night to find it engulfed in flames, he knows his girlfriend, Hope, set the fire. At least, he’s pretty sure he knows.

David first decides to upend the creature comforts of his post-collegiate life and try roughing it for a year after he inherits two acres of land and a rustic cabin from his deceased grandfather. Life at the cabin proves to be more difficult than expected, especially when David accidentally digs up clues that hint at a secret his grandfather hid from the family. And then there’s the woman he loves—Hope—whose dark past is written in the twisting pink scars covering her body. Their relationship is challenged after his car slides through an intersection one dark night and, later, when he realizes that someone is out there, watching him through the trees.

Over the course of five seasons, David struggles to maintain his relationship with Hope, vowing to be the one person she can count on in a world full of people who let her down. Ultimately, in an attempt to understand the sacrifices Hope has had to make, David decides to write down their story, making their fleeting romance at once permanent and timeless, demonstrating that things don’t have to last forever in order to be meaningful – or maybe even perfect.

“Meade artfully explores the cumbersome weight of personal secrets and the emotional consequences of concealing a source of profound shame… A  moving, emotional, and unpredictable drama.

— Kirkus Reviews

CHRISTINE MEADE: Christine Meade is a writer, editor, and educator. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of the Arts. A native New Englander, Christine currently lives and writes outside of Boston, MA. “The Way You Burn” is her first book, to be published by She Writes Press in April 2020. To learn more about Christine Meade’s life and work, visit her website,

“The Way You Burn”

Christine Meade | April 14, 2020 | She Writes Press
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-63152-691-6 | Price: $16.95
New Adult / Fiction / Mystery, Thriller

In an interview, CHRISTINE MEADE can discuss:

  • Why she chose to write from the male perspective, and how she approached David’s coming-into-consciousness with women’s issues
  • The importance of recognizing coming-of-age stories that take place after college
  • Her interest in the secrets we keep and the consequences of their revelation
  • Why she chose to write in the second person
  • How her work in editing has prepared her for writing this novel, and why she dedicates her time to helping other writers hone their craft
  • What her future writing plans are, and whether readers will see David – or possibly Hope – again

An Interview with CHRISTINE MEADE

1. Tell us a little bit about why you wanted to explore the coming-of-age experience from the perspective of someone in his twenties. Do you think “new adult” stories are often overlooked in fiction?

Although many think about high school experiences–as detailed in young adult novels–as the true coming-of-age period in one’s life, I’ve always seen the post-collegiate world–and new adult novels–as a grittier coming-of-age moment where the stakes are higher. After the confines of the parental home and a conventional four-year college are left behind, many individuals find themselves ostensibly standing at the edge of the cliff of life, trying to make real decisions for the first time about career, home, and love without any real sense of the possible consequences their decisions can hold.

2. I particularly enjoyed David’s “coming-to-consciousness” as he begins to understand the widespread abuse women face. Why did you choose to write from the male perspective? Was it difficult for you to inhabit the male gaze / male voice?

I wanted to take on the challenge of attempting to understand the various abuses women have faced throughout the generations from a young man’s perspective. It felt important, in this day and age, to explore this reality from a second-hand observer instead of from a victim’s perspective in order to guide readers to empathize with experiences that may not match their own. I like writing from characters of different ages, genders, and personalities because I think that is one of the true gifts of being a fiction writer!

3. Written in the second person, David addresses Hope throughout the book, as he details the ups and downs of their relationship. Why did you choose to construct this tale retrospectively and in second person?

I wanted the book to serve as David’s retrospective reflection on his year-long relationship with Hope. One’s early-to-mid twenties is a time that provides so many lessons–for better or worse–in terms of boundaries, personal strength, and the course an individual sets their life on. It felt important that David’s reflection be addressed to Hope because what he learns about himself has everything to do with what he learns from his relationship with her. Writing in second person allows David to connect directly with Hope while figuring out for himself what he is able to take away from the challenges he faced.

4. You are a native New Englander, and much of your book is set in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Have you been to the places you write about in the book? What techniques do you use when writing setting, or what advice would you give to a writer who is looking to improve their descriptions of place?

I love a strong sense of setting both in the books I read and those I write. I love to travel and I believe that love was developed from a steady diet of books as a young reader that transported me to places I could smell and see and hear in my mind. I think setting really influences a novel’s tone, and in The Way You Burn, the moodiness of New Hampshire’s seasons mimic the ups and downs of David’s romance with Hope. My family has a cabin in New Hampshire where I have spent many weekends over the course of my life, and the setting details in the book are pulled directly from observations of the natural surroundings of my family’s home. I encourage writers to try using places that featured prominently in their own pasts as setting for their fiction as I find it to be a fertile reservoir of surprising and unique sensory details.

5. Do you have plans to write another book soon? Perhaps one featuring this same set of characters?

Yes! My next book is already finished and tentatively titled The Moon, Her Crown, but it doesn’t feature David and Hope. This next novel takes a different look at the coming-of-age narrative, this time from the perspective of a burgeoning tarot reader as she searches for her missing mother in a small, coastal Maine town.