YEM Author Interview: Cassandra Newbould chats about touch on mental health and grief in her book Things I’ll Never Say

Cassandra Newbould Is the author of Things I’ll Never Say. Things I’ll Never Say follows a teen girl struggling to find herself in life and in love after losing her twin brother to the opioid crisis. The novel explores teen mental health and navigating grief. YEM was able to speak with Cassandra about what writing the debut novel taught her, when she knew she wanted to touch on mental health and grief in her book, and who is an author that inspires her.

Young Entertainment Mag: When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

Cassandra Newbould: I’ve written and made up stories my entire life but didn’t consider writing professionally until about 2016.

YEM: What was the inspiration for writing Things I’ll Never Say?

Cassandra: When I was a teen my boyfriend died of an overdose, and sadly, some of my other friends over the next few years passed also. Writing Things I’ll Never Say was a tribute to those I’ve loved and lost. I think readers can relate to TINS because America has been suffering from an opioid epidemic for a while now and a lot of families are affected.

YEM: As your debut novel, what did writing Things I’ll Never Say teach you about yourself?

Cassandra: It taught me that writing can be cathartic. That creating stories is a way to heal, not just for readers but the authors too. And that first and foremost, I discovered I’m a dreamer who really enjoys getting to share my imagination with the world.

YEM: What was the process of writing Things I’ll Never Say like?

Cassandra: This particular story wouldn’t leave my head so it was a fast drafting process. I spent about 2 months writing whenever I had time to spare and then another couple of weeks editing it. During that time I parted ways with my former agent. When I was ready to query again, I signed with my agent right away and we spent another week polishing TINS before we went on sub. TINS sold in less than 2 months.

YEM: Did you know you wanted to touch on mental health and grief in your book from the start?

Cassandra: Definitely. They are both subjects that are very important to me. I wanted to make sure I incorporated them into my story in a way that was relatable and empathetic. Some of the only universal experiences we as humans go through are death and loss. I wanted TINS to be a safe space for anyone looking for a story like TINS and to let them know they aren’t alone.

As someone who has PTSD, as well as anxiety and ADHD, I also wanted to write a story that revolved around mental health and how it can affect your life, especially when it comes to loss.

YEM: What do you hope your readers will take away from reading Things I’ll Never Say?

Cassandra: I hope readers are comforted in knowing it’s okay to not be okay. That grief comes in waves and can be lifelong, and that all feelings are valid when it comes to losing someone. 

YEM: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to be a writer?

Cassandra: Write the stories that make your heart sing. Life is too short to struggle, so if you’ve lost the voice or the plot and are finding no forward progress in your draft, don’t be afraid to switch it up and write something else!

YEM: What is a quote or scene from Things I’ll Never Say that is your favorite?

Cassandra: Scar Squad For Life!

YEM: What genre would you like to explore next in your writing?

Cassandra: Fantasy.

YEM: Who is an author that inspires you?

Cassandra: Alechia Dow

YEM: Are you writing anything coming out in the future?

Cassandra: Yes! My YA dystopian IF I SURVIVE:

Ashley Hearn at Peachtree Teen has acquired If I Survive, a post-apocalyptic YA by Cassandra Newbould (Things I’ll Never Say). In dystopic Seattle, healthcare is currency, the privileged live inside weather-proof domed cities—and Aegis Corp controls it all. Disabled medical mercenary Fox LaRosa fights for health equity, but when her sister disappears and becomes a political pawn, Fox will stop at nothing to get her back. Publication is slated for summer 2025; Ernie Chiara at Fuse Literary negotiated the deal for world rights.