Liz Suburbia’s debut graphic novel, Sacred Heart, was selected for the Top Ten lists for both the Alex Award and Great Graphic Novels for Teens, presented as part of the ALA’s 2016 Youth Media Awards. A full list of all the authors and titles honored at the 2016 YMAs can be found here.
Sacred Heart follows Ben Schiller, who is trying to navigate high school in Alexandria, a town where all the adults have gone away. As the teens attend school purely to socialize and local punk band the Crotchmen rock the nights away in an abandoned church, Ben juggles her changing relationship with her best friend and her newfound role as a parental figure to her younger sister, Empathy. But no one knows when or if the parents are coming back, and a string of deaths may mean that even more sinister things are coming.
Congratulations on your Alex Award win! What was your reaction to winning?
Thank you! I was surprised and humbled. My mom is an elementary school librarian who follows ALA news closely, so when she texted me about it I felt pretty good.
Was there something in particular that inspired you to write Sacred Heart?
I didn’t really know where I was going with it when I started; at the time I had just started working at a comic shop and was suddenly completely immersed in comics, so I was inspired to make one of my own. I started with the kind of generic “young girl coming of age” template and it grew from there.
Sacred Heart is about a town that is completely devoid of adults. Did you know at the beginning where all the grown-ups had gone, or did that revelation come later in the writing process?
At first I was having trouble writing adults into the story, and it occurred to me that I could just not include them. It took me awhile to come up with a good reason for their absence though. I had a kind of lightbulb moment out of nowhere when I went to see the band Shannon and the Clams, and they sang a song from the perspective of a kid who doesn’t want to be in their parents’ cult anymore.