Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Book Birthday Blog with Patrick Flores-Scott



Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog!

Where we celebrate new books from Michigan's authors, illustrators and translators.


Congratulations to Patrick Flores-Scott on the release of No Going Back


Please share a little about this book's journey. How did you come up with the idea?

I grew up in a small town very close to a youth prison. I remember summer sleep-outs and scaring each other with stories we’d make up about kids escaping the prison and going on a rampage. Looking back, our take on these kids was pretty dehumanizing. After college I worked for a short time as a drama teacher in that same prison. And then did an author event there. I also did presentations in a psych ward in a hospital where my father-in-law worked. Through these experiences, I began to wonder about the real lives impacted by incarceration. What societal forces bring people to prisons? How does that time inside impact their lives, and the lives of their families? What happens when they get out? Inside prison, every aspect of an incarcerated person’s life is controlled. There are very few choices to make inside. And one of the primary lessons taught in prison is to not trust anyone. How does that experience translate to real life when they are released? I don’t think No Going Back answers those questions. But the process of writing the book was an exploration of those questions. There are literally, sadly, millions of real stories of prison experiences out there right now in this country. No Going Back is just one broad, fictional, allegory that I hope leads to more questions and conversations about youth incarceration.  

What was the most difficult part of writing the book? 

Originally, I tried to write the book entirely in verse. I couldn’t quite figure out how to match the tone of Antonio’s backstory with the genre-ish, ticking-clock of Antonio’s post-prison present. There were a lot of dead ends. At one point, I bailed on the verse altogether and told people I was working on a “self-help novel” in which Antonio told his story as a cautionary tale, with advice for others so they wouldn’t end up in the situation he was in. It was fun to write, but in the end, it was one of several attempts that just didn’t work. Years into it, my agent, Steven Chudney, rescued me from my lost walk in the desert, and got me to write a hundred pages of straight prose with simple backstory poems. That’s the version that ended up selling. The book was a long time in coming, but I know that there is no way I would have ended up with what I have now without all the writing twists and turns and dead ends and restarts. 

What is something you hope your readers will take away from your book? 

First off, I just hope readers can hop on and ride the roller-coaster of Antonio’s first (and last?) weekend out of prison. And for a little while after the read, I hope they walk around with the questions the book brings up about forgiveness, amends, restitution, family, justice… 

Where can we find the book? 

The book can be ordered via any indie bookstore and all the online platforms. And check out the audiobook recorded by the amazing, Ramon de Ocampo. 

(audio snippet: https://soundcloud.com/search?q=no%20going%20back%20patrick%20flores-scott

What's next for you? 

I went back to college at the age of 53. I’m in my second semester at Eastern Michigan University getting my MA in creative writing. So, what’s immediately next is a lot of reading, some experimental prose writing, and a research paper in my Young Adult Literature Class. I’m also working a couple graduate assistantships with the literary journal and the writing center.
Beyond that, I’m wrestling with a near future dystopian novel, in which fascism has taken root in individual states in the U.S. Inside of one of those fascist states, a group of improv drama kids become a resistance cell when they free political prisoners from a secret detention center in their town. It’s tentatively titled, Love in the Underground.

More about the book . . . 

It’s a Friday afternoon. After a year-and-a-half in prison for setting up his friend, Gary Jr., to rob his drug-dealer dad’s boss, Antonio is being released on parole. He is ready to start life over, dedicated to the 12-step process, and yearning to make amends to his mom, Carmen, and his lifelong best friend and crush, Maya Jordan. 

Antonio’s immediate plan is to lay low for the weekend, prepare for his Monday morning meeting at school with his Counselor and parole officer, and not break any terms of his parole…Antonio must stay sober, must attend school, may not have contact with his father

The plan goes awry when Gary Jr. contacts Antonio, telling him that he buried the money right after the robbery. Now that Antonio is out, it’s time to dig it up and split it. And his chaos-agent father shows up with the warning that his boss is coming after Antonio for the money.
Over the course of the weekend, Antonio must break his terms of parole in order to fix the problems that prison could not. Will Antonio be sent back to prison?

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books, Little Brown Books for Young Readers/Hachette 


More about the author . . . 

Patrick is a former public school teacher from the Seattle area. His 2013 book, Jumped In, was a YALSA BFYA pick, a Bank Street Best Book, won the Washington State Book Award, and was an Amelia Walden Award Finalist. American Road Trip (2018), was a BFYA pick, a Banks Street Best Book, and made the Printz Award long list. Patrick lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wonderful family and two cute, quirky dogs. 





  1. Patrick! What an important book! The reminder that there is always backstory involved in our actions (and those of others) can lead to much greater empathy all around us. Congratulations to you!

  2. Patrick, thanks for writing a book on such a timely and necessary subject. I can't wait to read it.

  3. Congrats on your new book, Patrick! It sounds fantastic. That's great that you took the big step of switching from verse to prose. And good luck with your MA.

  4. So impressive, Patrick! What an incredible book and backstory. Cheering you on as you complete your studies!

  5. Wow - love hearing your backstory to the book's origins, Patrick. I can see how growing up near a youth prison stayed with you and came out in this story. And let's hear it for perseverance! Can't wait to read it.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story and making us aware of the justice system and youth prisons. I look forward to reading your book.

  7. Congratulations, Patrick, on the book and on sticking with it through many iterations; that's the mark of talent. Looking forward to reading No Going Back.

  8. Kathryn Madeline Allen, children's authorApril 4, 2024 at 1:11 PM

    Congratulations on your book's release, Patrick! Fascinating backstory!