Donna Freitas

Article excerpt

Donna Freitas is an assistant professor of religion at Boston University, earned a solemn doctorate in religious studies from the Catholic University of America and wrote a dark tome, Killing the Imposter God. Then she started researching Sex and the Soul, a serious study of college students' attitudes toward sex and religion. But mornings, she'd wake up early and the words would pour out--light, burbling, joyful words about a 15-year-old named Antonia Lucia Labella, who works in the family pasta market, yearns for her first kiss and makes a crazy plan to become the world's first living saint. Released this August as a Farrar, Straus & Giroux young-adult novel, Possibilities of Sainthood even has its own trailer on youtube.com.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Sounds like the book practically wrote itself.

I teach about the medieval women mystics, and now I joke that I hear voices too.

Any idea why this story seized you?

My mother had died suddenly, and I was spending a lot of time thinking about what she had left me. Like cooking--I was conscripted into the kitchen as a kid. And she and my grandmother prayed to the saints all the time; we had statues all over the place.

Antonia thinks she's the only girl in high school who's never been kissed. What was your first kiss like?

Er ... I was a late bloomer like my protagonist. But I ended up having a pretty wonderful kiss.

Well ...?

I'm not kissing and telling. When I wrote the kissing parts in the book, I was beet red and had one hand over my eyes. …