Thanks for having me guest blogging for you on your fun, lively site. I got completely lost (in a good way) reading all the stuff you have on here!
You asked me to write about the theme of coping with loss in my novel, The Worst Thing She Ever Did, because my main character, Sophie, is coping with a terrible loss as the book opens. It’s a loss that she blames herself for even as she refuses to even think about it. She just wants to forget the past. Move onÂ Her way of dealing with it actually makes her life worse, but she can’t see that.
Then she begins to write.
For a lot of us, writing is a way to release pent up feelings and ideas. As a writer, I find putting words on the page helps me deal with my (very ordinary) day to day life. Sophie is coping with something truly tragic, but with words she starts to comprehend the loss of her older sister. I did a lot of research to try and get the tone right. Hopefully that comes through. Despite the research, The Worst Thing She Ever Did was a hard book to write. Just as Sophie is lost for words, so I struggled to find the right way to tell her story. In a very early draft, I wrote the novel as journal entries. It made sense to me to give Sophie a strong voice, to get inside her head, which is where readers need to be to see her world. As I rewrote the book, I took out all the dated entries – leaving the story as a series of undated sections. My editor was baffled. She said, but it reads like a journal! I couldn’t (and still can’t) remember why I took the dates out. Something to do with flow, maybe. Anyway, I put the dates back in and (because of the other editorial changes) the story finally came fully together. I realised I’d been struggling with words just like my character, for different reasons, sure, but with the same result. Strange how that happens.
I’m interested in form – my first book is written solely as notes left on a refrigerator – so journal entries were a natural fit for me as a writer. I’m keen on white space – the events between the words, what happens off the page. Readers bring their imaginations to my books, filling in the gaps with their own stories. There needs to be a catharsis, I think, during the reading process, also there needs to be one during the type of grief Sophie is experiencing. It’s a essential way of coping with loss. I hope in The Worst Thing… I managed to bring all that together. It was certainly cathartic writing it down.
Thanks for having me on Simply Stacie.
About the Book:
All Sophie wants is to forget what happened last summer. But that’s not easy when people keep asking if she’s okay, and her mother locks herself behind closed doors for hours at a time. And now her best friend, Abigail, cares more about parties and boys than hanging out with Sophie.
Lost in memories of the life she once had — before that terrible day — Sophie retreats into herself. But it’s only so long before she must confront the tragedy of her past so she can face the future.