Katie Coyle, whose novel, ‘Vivian Versus the Apocalypse,’   (Click to enlarge)

RFHRHS Public Relations

vivian versus the apocalypse“Someday I’ll read a book by Katie Coyle” reads the inscription in a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School yearbook.

“It was written by my Advanced Placement (AP) English Teacher Jack Shea when I was about to graduate in 2004,” said Ms. Coyle. “I held Mr. Shea in high regard, and that comment really meant a lot to me.”

As it turns out, Mr. Shea was right. And “someday” came about very quickly.

Ms. Coyle’s first book, “Vivian Versus the Apocalypse,” will be published on September 5 by Hot Key Books. The book and its 25-year-old author have already earned high praise from the literary world.

Ms. Coyle’s journey into publishing began in the spring of 2012 when she submitted her manuscript for judging in the inaugural Young Writer’s Prize contest sponsored by Hot Key Books and the Guardian news service.

Founded by Sarah Odednina, who served for many years as the editor for “Harry Potter” series author J.K. Rowling, Hot Key Books publishes fiction for children and young adults. The Young Writer’s Prize contest offered a book deal to aspiring authors from around the world between the ages of 18 and 25 writing for the young adult market.

“I entered the Young Writer’s Prize contest because I felt strongly about getting my book’s message out to young readers,” said Ms. Coyle. “While the story is a bit of a mystery and a bit of an adventure, its main focus is about girls being tough and getting the job done.”

In February 2013 Ms. Coyle was notified that her book was one of two selected for the top prize. She and her co-winner each received a publishing deal from Hot Key Books worth 10,000 British pounds, or the equivalent of over 15,000 U.S. dollars.

“Vivian Versus the Apocalypse” is set in a dystopian United States, where the citizens live in misery and most of the country is under the thrall of a powerful religion called the Church of America.

Vivian’s parents are members of the Church and they disappear on the day that a “rapture” — a combined resurrection of all believers — is predicted.

When Vivian suspects that all is not as it seems, she sets off with her best friend Harp and a boy named Peter on a quest to uncover the truth.

“The first time I read ‘Vivian Versus the Apocalypse’ I knew it was a winner,” said Hot Key Books Publisher Emily Thomas, a member of the judging panel. “Katie Coyle’s impressive poise as a writer, her emotional intelligence, her modest yet heroic central character, her tenderly woven love story — not to mention her chilling view of a weakened society all too ready to place itself into the hands of a higher power — all combine in a heady and compelling mix to propel the reader toward the courageous ending.”

Also judging entries for the Young Writers Prize were Guardian writer Julia Eccleshare, author Will Hill (“Department 19”), children’s book author Elen Caldecott, and British bookseller John Newman.

“This win marks the arrival of two fantastic new voices to young adult fiction,” said Thomas. “We are so proud to be publishing such talented young authors.”

Contest co-winner Joe Ducie, a 24-year-old from Perth, Australia will see his book “The Rig” made available under the Hot Key Books imprint as well. “The Rig” tells the story of a 15-year-old boy imprisoned in a juvenile holding facility in the middle of the Arctic Ocean where a mysterious blue substance is rumored to provide teens with superpowers.

Ms. Coyle found her passion for writing at RFH and, encouraged by comments from her English teacher, was emboldened to continue down that path.

“I never really thought that writing was something I could do with my life until I took a class with Mr. Shea during my senior year,” said Ms. Coyle. “I used to write apologetic notes in the margins of the papers I handed in for class assignments, until he told me to stop doing that because the papers themselves were ‘not bad.'”

“I considered that high praise coming from Mr. Shea, and it inspired me to keep going with writing,” she explained.

After graduating from RFH, Ms. Coyle attended Marymount Manhattan College where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She then earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Fiction from the University of Pittsburgh.

Ms. Coyle, who now lives in San Francisco, California, is the daughter of Ellen and Bill Coyle of Fair Haven.

Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Public Relations
mkampfe@rfhrhs.org or 908-347-8885