Ava
“He suggested I write a novel,” she says. “The idea had never really occurred to me. But, that night on my drive home, the title popped into my head and I started writing the book that night.”

Ten years after graduating from the Academy, Ava Dellaira ’02 already had her first Hollywood hit as a producer on the film “Perks of Being a Wallflower.” In April, Ava will add author to her list of accomplishments when her first novel, “Love Letters to the Dead,” is published.

Ava graduated from the University of Chicago in 2006 and then went on to earn a master’s degree in fine arts (poetry) from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. After Iowa, she moved to Los Angeles hoping to work in a field with a broader reach than poetry—so she thought she’d try her hand at screenwriting.

“I took a job as an assistant to Stephen Chbosky, the author of the book ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ shortly before he started making the film,” says Ava. While she initially was hired as an assistant to Chbosky, her hard work paid off, when she was promoted to associate producer.

While working on the film, Ava shared some of her writing with Chbosky. “He suggested I write a novel,” she says. “The idea had never really occurred to me. But, that night on my drive home, the title popped into my head and I started writing the book that night.”

In her debut novel, Ava shares a powerful story of life, courage and loss. It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she begin to discover her own path.

Ava will be featured as a Community Academy speaker on Sunday, April 6 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free, but guests are asked to register in advance to help ensure adequate seating. Ava also will be the guest of honor at an Academy alum-only reception that evening, beginning at 5 p.m. All Academy alums are invited to stop by and meet Ava, hear about what it’s like to publish your first book, and pick up a signed copy of the book. Details are here.