Illinois State University Office Administrator and author Amanda L. Webster will hold a free launch event from 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 1 at Ryburn Place to celebrate her latest novel.

The event venue originally served as a pit-stop for visitors travelling on Route 66. When it opened in 1931, the building housed a gas station, garage, café and apartments. 

Webster’s novel, “DIY High” takes place in a small town along Route 66. Because of her novel’s connection to Ryburn Place, Webster said she is looking forward to reading at the historical building. 

“Ryburn Place is a unique venue for a book launch party, and I plan to talk a bit about Route 66 to tie the book in to the venue’s Route 66 theme,” Webster said. “I think this will be a great event for readers young and old, whether they are interested in Route 66 or just love young adult novels.”

An Effingham county native, Webster began writing in elementary school and was placed in the gifted writing program. She graduated from Mount Mary University in 2013 with a master’s degree in creative writing before moving back home to Illinois. 

Webster now works as an Office Administrator for University Advancement and Foundation Operations at ISU. “DIY High” is her third novel.

“My last big novel ‘Valley of the Bees’ was speculative fiction, and this one is contemporary. All of my novels touch on similar themes, but they are each very different,” Webster said. 

Webster said the book tells a harrowing and timely tale in “DIY High” about the dangers of a young girl in the midst of the opioid crisis. 


"DIY High" follows the story of a teenage girl as she tries to graduate high school and get accepted to college amidst the struggles of the opioid crisis. 

Rather than warn readers about the long-term effects of the crisis, Webster chooses to relay a story fully capable of occurring in the current socioeconomic climate. 

“It’s the story of a teenager named Gabby who must figure out how to finish high school and get to college while also supporting her younger siblings and her single mother who has fallen under the spell of prescription opioids,” Webster said.  

“Gabby’s mom takes her out of school to homeschool her, so she can work full-time at the local truck stop, but Gabby soon ends up having to homeschool herself,” Webster continued. “Next thing she knows, she’s running a do-it-yourself high school, DIY High, out of her local library.”

All of Webster’s books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and most major online book retailers. Those interested in purchasing her works can find or request them at their local bookstores or libraries. Additionally, Webster will have copies available for purchase and signing at the launch event. 

MAIA HUDDLESTON is a News Reporter for The Vidette. She can be contacted at Follow her on Twitter at @maiawrites 

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