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Lois Metzger: Some Things I Learned While Writing A Trick of the Light + Giveaway

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Today, I'm delighted to have Lois Metzger on the blog today to talk about . A Trick of the Light was one of my favorite reads last year. It's a FANTASTIC book that I recommend to young readers. It talks about some very important concepts, particularly about boys and eating disorders. This is a book that I would want my children to read.

You can read my review of the book here and an interview I had with Lois Metzger when the book first came out here. You can also enter to win a signed copy of the book on this very post!

Lois Metzger: Some Things I Learned
While Writing A Trick of the Light

The sheer numbers of people with eating disorders: the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) estimates that 30 million people in this country have eating disorders at some point in their lives. At any time, 10 million people have eating disorders, and at least 10 percent are male, which means at least one million men and boys—who are less likely to seek out or find treatment because eating disorders are still considered “girl diseases.”

My book is fiction, but the narrator—also known as the “eating-disorder voice” or the “anorexic voice”—is very real. I’ve seen it described in other books (fiction and nonfiction) as an ever-present “green, scaly creature with a large beak,” “the dictator,” “the beast,” “a drumbeat, a howl,” and a voice that “didn’t seem to be me doing the talking. Not any part of me I’d ever encountered, anyway.”

People with eating disorders often have food rituals. In my book, Mike eats only five bites per meal and arranges food on his plate so it resembles a clock face. While researching eating disorders, I spoke to young men who chewed food and spit it out, who only ate at night and never during sunlight hours, who only ate burnt toast.

Many people with eating disorders suffer from “body dysmorphia”—believing that one’s appearance is hideous and flawed, and ruminating about this for more than one hour a day. They may look in the mirror and actually see a distorted image. A healthy body can appear grotesquely overweight. Even an emaciated body can appear “fat.”

People may want to lose a few pounds in order to look good or feel fit. When people with eating disorders lose weight they endanger their health. Their hair and eyelashes may fall out, and cuts and bruises don’t heal. They may get a soft coat of fuzz on their faces, backs and chests (because of a lack of food, the body can no longer produce heat, and this hair is the body’s attempt to keep warm). They have trouble sleeping because the body won’t let them rest—it goes into starvation mode and stays alert because it wants to find food and eat. Due to a lack of calcium, they may develop osteoporosis. They can’t stand up straight and their bones can break from a simple fall. Too little potassium can result in weakened heart muscles, which can lead to a heart attack (in fact, the mortality rate for eating disorders is as high as 20 percent). So the intent—to look good and feel fit—has been lost. They are cold all the time, and hungry all the time, and can’t sleep, even while they protest that they are not freezing, not famished, not exhausted.

Which was something else I learned. People with eating disorders lie a lot because they have to hide the fact that they have eating disorders. This is why the narrator of my book—the “anorexic voice”—lies all the time. It is the quintessential “unreliable narrator.”

Because people with eating disorders deny they are ill, and because eating disorders can escalate so quickly and are so deadly, friends and family have to take action. A good first step is to call NEDA: 1-800-931-2237.

About the Author

Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light, was born in Queens and has always written for young adults. She is the author of three previous novels and two nonfiction books about the Holocaust, and she has edited five anthologies. Her short stories have appeared in collections all over the world. Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and Harper's Bazaar. She lives in Greenwich Village with her husband and son.

Connect with Lois
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

About the Book

A Trick of the Light
by Lois Metzger

Genre: Contemporary
Paperback: 208 Pages
Publication: September 23, 2014
by Balzer + Bray

Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they're getting confusing at school. He's losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he's a mess. Then there's a voice in his head. A friend, who's trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that's holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.


Thanks to Lois, we have a signed paperback of A Trick of the Light to offer for one of our readers. To enter, all you need to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us what you learned from Lois's post / if you have anything to add and why you want to win her book.

● Open to the United States
● Giveaway ends September 25th
● Full contest terms and conditions found on Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway
3 comments on "Lois Metzger: Some Things I Learned While Writing A Trick of the Light + Giveaway"
  1. I knew that eating disorders created a lot of problems for the people affected, but I never knew that the problems were to that extent. I want to read this book because it seems interesting, and I like the idea of viewing an eating disorder through a male point of view. I like that the author shows that anyone can have an eating disorder.

  2. I think it's brilliant to show that anyone can have an eating disorder, not just women, and that there are other signs beyond weight loss to look out for. My little brother struggles with his body dysmorphia and there are a shocking number of people who believe that men can't feel such a way about their bodies.

  3. I had no idea that so many men and boys had eating disorders. I want to read the book because I love fiction based on fact and I can learn so much from this story.


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