Author Interview: Karole Cozzo Talks ‘How to Say I Love You out Loud’


I reviewed this awesome book earlier this week, and you can read it here. Karole Cozzo was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions about her debut novel.


As a school psychologist, what has been your experience with kids with autism?

I have worked in both public and private schools and worked with children on the autistic spectrum in both settings.  Where I currently work, about 70% of the students have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.  So, I hope my portrayal of life with autism is realistic and authentic–that was very important to me.

In the book, Jordyn finds herself in situations where her peers are saying horrible things about special needs kids and Jordyn says nothing. What tips would you give to teens who find themselves in similar situations?

It can certainly be hard to speak up, and if you don’t feel comfortable or confident enough to go head-to-head with those being less than kind, you can always find ways to extend YOUR kindness to the person being talked about or made fun of directly.  I definitely believe in the adage “you don’t need a million friends so long as you have one good one.”  When others are being cruel, never underestimate the power you have to be kind and be that one person to someone else. But, aside from that, I do encourage teens to speak up when they can.  It is so hard in certain instances, but the best advice I can give is to check in with your conscience.  If instinct tells you this is really wrong and listening to this gives me a bad feeling, act on those instincts.  Don’t participate in such negativity just because it’s the path of least resistance.  You don’t need to lecture on kindness and tolerance, but you CAN be a living example of kindness and tolerance.

Swoon Reads is a growing community that already has tons of stories on their website; how did you get involved in the community?

I’m proud to say I was one of the first people to post a manuscript online when Swoon Reads went live with beta testing!  As someone who has a family and works full-time, it was extremely difficult to find the time to query agents and try to get in the door with my writing.  Swoon Reads was a unique opportunity to gain direct access to a fantastic publishing team. My first manuscript did not get selected, but I am so happy I gave Swoon another go with How to Say I Love You out Loud.

How did the idea for this book come about?

I work in a school setting that serves students with various special needs.  Most of the siblings I encounter are wonderful–supportive and mature beyond their years.  However, it’s impossible to miss how in so many situations their needs or desires have to come second to the more immediate or pressing needs of their brothers and sisters.  I was interested in telling their story, thinking about how their family dynamics impact their lives and relationships. My main character, Jordyn, is far from perfect and doesn’t always treat her brother as she should. But she definitely grows, and even if readers don’t love her every action, it’s my hope that they come to respect her and her progression throughout the story.


What’s your favorite love story? (It can be fictional or real)


Oh mannnnn…this is hard! Well, my favorite fictional couple is Amy and Jamie from the Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund, and I DO love their story–from enemies to head over heels, with a very satisfying happy ending.  :)  I’ll go with that one!


Do you believe that you and Jordyn share any qualities? Which ones?


I don’t think I have that much in common with Jordyn now, but my high school self can relate to her. I was definitely not as confident and comfortable in my skin as some of the kids at my school.  I was quiet at times simply because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing.  You definitely find your voice as you mature, and I’m so glad Jordyn found hers!
Rachel is a 19-year-old college student who hopes to become a 7th grade English teacher while also publishing books on the side. She’s had a passion for books since she was barely old enough to walk. (okay, slight exaggeration but you get the idea) Some of her favorite books are Farewell To Arms, To Kill A Mockingbird, Divergent, Matilda, and The Great Gatsby. Aside from books, her other loves include: Bruce Springsteen, Gilmore Girls, Candy Crush, Prince, One Direction, and Tupac. You can contact her at