Supernova: The Book We All Need Right Now

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Patricia Leavy has done it again, with a stunning fourth novel in her Tess Lee series, following the books Shooting StarsTwinkle, and Constellations. Supernova is a gorgeous, nuanced book, full of heart and healing and the joys and challenges of living a full, honest, loving life. Again, Leavy brings us a whole range of characters that we're so happy to catch up with. 

As with all her books, I suggest, if you can, not having anything on your calendar. Once you start, her books are SO difficult to put down; with Supernova, you'll want to follow Tess and Jack along the twists and turns that their lives have brought. This book is the darkest of the series, and yet Leavy writes light in every corner. It is the read we all need right now, on finding a path through challenges. 

Leavy is a master at writing the human condition; every reader will find bits of themselves in her books. As always, highly, highly recommended.

Supernova: The Book We All Need Right Now

We were lucky enough to catch up with Leavy to chat about her new book. Here's what she had to say...

Please tell us about your new novel, Supernova...
It’s a love story that explores love and trust. At times it’s a dark read, but there are a lot of healing moments in this book, which I hope wrap readers in a warm embrace. The novel follows the love story of Tess and Jack. Tess Lee is a world-famous novelist married to former federal agent Jack Miller. They are both recovering from past traumas, but have found incredible love and joy together. In Supernova a catastrophic event will change everything and push their relationship to the brink. Can Tess move through this new trauma? Will Jack’s need for vengeance destroy their relationship? When trust is violated, can there be forgiveness? In order to find their way through to the end, Tess and Jack will need to go back to the beginning. Supernova is a novel about walking through our past traumas, moving from darkness to light, and the ways in which love—from lovers, friends, or the art we experience—heals us and helps us learn to forgive ourselves and others. 

Supernova is a part of a serial, although it can definitely be read as a stand-alone novel. What inspired you to write this book?
I absolutely love these characters, not only Tess and Jack, but all of their friends and loved ones. While they have their struggles, like we all do, these are fundamentally good people who love each other in extraordinary ways. They model what love looks and feels like, day-to-day. Of all my books, these characters are nearest and dearest to me. When I finished Shooting Stars, I knew there were more stories to tell and I hoped readers would enjoy following their journey as much as I love writing about them. Twinkle came next, then Constellations, and now Supernova. I’m using these characters to explore love, to write a grand love letter to love in all its forms and with all its complexities, one that will unfold over many books. In Supernova, I really wanted to explore some dark themes and it is the most explosive book in the series, as the title suggests. I wanted to dig deep into topics about trust, betrayal, violence, and the residue of trauma—things that are often glossed over. Let’s just say, I went there. I hope the book resonates with readers who may have their own wounds, and shows them they are not alone. While it can be read on its own, if someone is new to the series, I suggest beginning with Shooting Stars.

In Supernova, the characters experience conflict with one another in ways we haven’t seen in earlier novels in the serial.
In each novel, the characters experience growth and learning and their relationships further develop. In Supernova, even the closest bonds are challenged, between both Tess and Jack and Tess and Omar. Relationships are tested. Life is full of challenges and even those we love most don’t always react to things as we might hope, so despite the extreme nature of the examples in this book, the overall story is something I think many of us can relate to. I don’t think it’s possible to explore love in an honest way without also examining disappointment and the painful path to redemption.

As with all your fiction, Supernova can be used in the classroom in a range of college courses? How can educators use this book to teach?
As a sociologist who loved to bring films and novels into my courses, I’m always thinking about how a novel I write might be used as a springboard for reflection in a range of social science courses and the like. Supernova deals with issues surrounding intimate relationships, relational communication, abuse, healing, violence, trauma, and gender. My hope is that professors in communication, sociology, social work, psychology, and other fields will consider it for their courses. I’ve virtually joined many classes that have used earlier books in the series, and it’s amazing how much students have gotten out of it. We’ve had some awesome conversations.  Students often enjoy reading fiction and it can be used to stimulate reflection and discussion on subjects covered in a range of classes. I’ve included a further engagement section with discussion questions and a wide array of activities to facilitate use of the book in college courses.

What does Supernova offer for the general reader?
It’s truly a novel that can be read by anyone. To those who have wounds that are visible or invisible, this story says ‘I see you.’ I think that’s something most of us need. And while dark subject matter is covered, there are also lots of laughs and other lighter moments. I hope the writing style balances darkness and light, mirroring the journey of the characters, and all of our journeys. 

What do you hope readers will take away from Supernova?
To be gentle with ourselves and those we love. It may be a cliché, but it’s true that in order to love others, we have to learn to love ourselves. To do so, we have to forgive ourselves and let go of shame and regret. This is hard. These feelings run deep, and sometimes we don’t even recognize them. Redemption is possible. We can be the heroes of our stories.

What's up next for you? 
I’ve been on a creative writing burst, so expect more in the Tess Lee series as well as some other works of fiction which will be rolling out over the next couple years. I’m also working on several nonfiction books, including one about writing fiction, which contains lengthy excerpts from all the Tess Lee and Jack Miller novels.

Patricia Leavy. From Supernova: The Book We All Need Right Now

Supernova on Amazon

Shooting Stars on Amazon


Patricia Leavy, Ph.D., is an independent sociologist and best-selling author. She has published more than 35 books, earning critical and commercial success in both nonfiction and fiction and her work has been translated into numerous languages. Over her career she has also served as the creator and editor for ten book series with Oxford University Press, Brill/Sense, and Guilford Press, the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, and a blogger for numerous outlets. Patricia has received numerous book awards as well as career awards from New England Sociological Association, the American Creativity Association, the American Educational Research Association, the National Art Education Association, and the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. In 2016 Mogul, a women’s empowerment network, named her an “Influencer.” In 2018, she was honored by the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the State University of New York-New Paltz established the “Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice.” Her website is 


More interviews with Dr. Leavy here on Wandering Educators:

Constellations: Patricia Leavy's Second Must-Read Book This Year

Read This: Why Shooting Stars is One of the Most Important Books You’ll Ever Read

Breathe Into Love: Twinkle is Already the Must-Read Book of the Year

Read This: Inspiration, Joy, and Life in Patricia Leavy's SPARK

Write This: Author Patricia Leavy on Setting, Inspiration, and Teaching in her New Novel, Film

Blue: Identity, Self, and Possibility

Read this: Living a Big Life in Patricia Leavy’s Candy Floss Collection


All photos courtesy and copyright Patricia Leavy, PhD, used with permission