Loss Blog Tour (Guest Post & Giveaway!)

Jackie Morse Kessler, author of the Riders of the Apocalypse series, recently embarked on the tour for Loss, the latest addition in the series. Today, she's here on Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf to talk about how Alzheimer's was involved in the book as well as to offer up a giveaway. Read on to find out more...

Alzheimer’s and LOSS 
By Jackie Morse Kessler'

The books in the Riders of the Apocalypse series have themes—Hunger focused on eating disorders, and Rage looked at self-injury. LOSS predominantly tackles bullying, and the anxiety that being perpetually bullied can cause. But there’s a secondary focus in LOSS, one that’s near and dear to my heart: Alzheimer’s. Specifically, coping with a loved one’s struggle with Alzheimer’s.

This is a fear of mine, even more so than drowning (almost happened when I was a kid) or realizing you’ve come to class naked and forgot to study for that math test (never happened, I swear). Alzheimer’s runs in my family. It’s terrifying to watch—and I never had to be a caregiver to someone suffering with the disease. I just saw it on the periphery, when I’d visit my grandmother, who slowly faded away. She’d been this shining star, this loving if beleaguered presence, and I watched her hollow out until she was just a shell of herself. I remember visiting her older sister a few months before I got married, remember listening in fascinated horror as, in the space of one sentence, she’d go from present to past to extremely past and back to present. It was all flow of thought and impossible to follow. And she meant every damn word.

Alzheimer’s is scary. And that’s coming from someone who wrote an adult series about demons.

So when I originally set out to write LOSS, I was going to have the issue be Alzheimer’s. Because it was aimed at the YA market, it was going to be focused on the teen caregiver of a grandparent. It was going to be personal, and touch on a fear that makes me sweat every time I forget what I was about to do. (I read somewhere that forgetting where you put your keys is fine; not so fine is when you forget what a key is. Good to know. Hope I don’t forget it!) 

But when I started writing LOSS, the protagonist, Billy, slowly transformed from being a teen who is treated horribly by his grandfather, who is in the throes of the disease, to being a teen who is horribly bullied—at school as well as at home by his grandfather. The bullying by his grandfather is unintentional; Alzheimer’s and dementia sucks, plain and simple, and sometimes the most gentle person can become horrifically violent. The bullying at school, however, was very intentional. And as I kept writing, the story turned into a young man’s struggle with crippling anxiety from not knowing when the next blow is going to strike.

I’m glad the book turned out that way; there was so much more to the protagonist than only being his grandfather’s caregiver. But conquering Alzheimer’s remains an important cause. And that’s why I’m donating a portion of LOSS proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Association.

So if you decide to buy a copy of LOSS, thank you for helping to make a difference. :)

LOSS by Jackie Morse Kessler comes out March 20, 2012! Here's some more info about the book:
Fifteen-year-old Billy Ballard is the kid that everyone picks on. But things change drastically when Death tells Billy he must stand in as Pestilence, the White Rider of the Apocalypse. Now armed with a Bow that allows him to strike with disease from a distance, Billy lashes out at his tormentors...and accidentally causes an outbreak of meningitis. Horrified by his actions, Billy begs Death to take back the Bow. For that to happen, says Death, Billy must track down the real White Rider, and stop him from unleashing something awful on humanity—something that could make the Black Plague look like a summer cold. Does one bullied teenager have the strength to stand his ground—and the courage to save the world?
You can pre-order LOSS at Amazon, your indie bookstore, Book Depository, and Barnes and Noble. Also lookout for my review, which will be posted later this week! 

GIVEAWAY: One lucky commenter below (please include email address with comment!!) will win a small cover poster of LOSS—and will be entered in the grand prize drawing! The grand prize winner will receive signed copies of HUNGER, RAGE, and LOSS—and will get to name a character in BREATH, the fourth book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series. The grand prize winner will be picked on Sunday, April 1, 2012. No foolin’.

The winner of the small cover poster will be picked on March 17, 2012! Good luck! :)

Want to know where future (and past) tour stops are? Head on over here to see the full list! 


  1. I agree, it is very scary. I remember seeing both my great grandfather and grandfather with it. The scary thing is, I have been seeing signs my mother has it, for about the five years. Both of them turned extremely violent, I am concerned my mother will to.
    I would love to read this book. It sounds like a great addition to the series.

  2. This topic isn't that prevalent in fiction. Glad to know someone is taking the bull by the horns. Can't wait to see how she handles it!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  3. It's a scary thing. My grandmother has been showing signs for years and it's heartbreaking to watch. Love all of Jackie's books and I can't wait to read this one! Thanks, Lauren, for hosting this and thanks Jackie for being so wonderful. :)


  4. I am also terrified of getting Alheimer's myself. I pray to God it never happens to me. I would love to be entered to win, the book sounds absolutely wonderful. Thanks for the giveaway.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  5. Very interesting comparison with alzheimer's and bullying. Thanks for writing about both of them because they impact so very many lives of all ages.

  6. I Can't wait to read this book. What a great post! If this is international i would like to enter?


  7. Thank you so much for the comments! And yes, international is OK. :)

  8. My Father has Alzheimer's & it is very scary. I wonder if I will go the same way.


  9. I have to admit just the thought of it scares me.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  10. I can't imagine how life-changing it would be to have someone you care for experience something like that.


  11. I did a paper on Alzheimer's and it's really something to talk about. Not just because it's real but because it can happen to anyone that we know and love.

    -Len of Musings of a Reader Happy

  12. it is scary to deal with Alzheimer as an outsider, a lady who was near and dear to me had suffered for quite some time until she passed away. Towards the end she didn't even recognize her own children anymore. Heartbreaking :(

  13. I couldn't imagine having or being close to someone suffering from this disease. I would like to see how this turns out.

    drinkshrunkentears at gmail dot com

  14. I can just imagine the awareness this series could raise. Thank you so much for creating such powerful stories. I cannot wait to finally read the books.

    sauvadeavelle @ yahoo dot com

  15. I'm looking forward to Loss. All the books are sad, but what I like is how they bring the "taboo" issues into the light.



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