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'Hunger' talk offers food for thought

Steeped in fantasy, the book also sticks to Kessler's mission of talking about eating disorders.

"It takes a very hard-hitting look at eating disorders," she said.

Kessler hadn't really planned to write a whole series of books based on the riders of the Apocalypse, but when she finished "Hunger," her agent asked what the next one would be. And so "Rage" was born. Set for release in April, this book tells the story of another teen girl who is visited by Death. A self-injurer, or cutter, she is tapped to become another rider of the Apocalypse: War.

Unlike "Hunger," Kessler couldn't draw on personal experience for "Rage." She did a lot of reading and research into cutters, and then she settled on a main character.

But she needed something else before the words would flow: a first sentence.

"I need to have something I could kick it off with," she said.

Inspiration struck, oddly enough, when she put her cat to sleep. "The day Melissa Miller killed her cat, she met the Angel of Death," Kessler wrote.

The books are united by more than the riders of the Apocalypse theme. Kessler said the theme is "how we choose to destroy ourselves" " a theme that's played out in real life, not just her novels. Wanting to do something to contribute to the healing, Kessler is donating a portion of the proceeds from each book to charity. Contributions from the sale of "Hunger" go to the National Eating Disorders Association, and proceeds from "Rage" will benefit "To Write Love on Her Arms," which aims to help people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

Kessler already has ideas for the remaining two stories in the series. She's working on "Loss," which is about a bullied teenage boy who becomes the new Pestilence, and will follow that with "Breath," focusing on the character of Death.

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