Initial Feelings: Starving (Thanks time change). Wobbly (Thanks workout). Old (Thanks Halloween).
Initial Thoughts: I’m about to hit some rapid fire pacing. Here comes the home stretch. As well as an introduction to a plethora of new life issues-mild eating disorders, mental illness, identity crises, life & death, etc. I won’t lie, there are some parts of this novel that feel like you’re chugging along a steady stream and then all of the sudden you just drop straight off a cliff. Into SUPER DEEP FEELS. And I’m proud.
*The role of Roman’s mother developed the same way the role of Bryn’s father did. In the first book we’re introduced to two extremely flawed human beings whose flaws have had a harmful impact on the children they probably shouldn’t have had. But just like REAL people who suffer from alcoholism or mental illness, these issues are only the tip of the ice berg. In the case of Bryn’s father and Roman’s mother (who I just realized still needs a name, yikes!) the truth turns out to be something paranormal but these underlying causes still reflect the depth of people’s true suffering, which is so often overlooked. For Roman, I really just needed a reason for some of his thoughts and behavior. Before his car accident, he was obviously in a very dark place, which we explore much more in book 2. He was reckless and lonely and suicidal and a lot of what he was feeling was totally internal. Yes, he had a strained relationship with his mother and that left him feeling inadequate and unloved but these feelings were exaggerated by the mental illness he also suffered from. Ultimately, this is something he and his mother end up having in common in a supernatural sense, but when you get right down to it, Roman the person (and not the superhero) was suffering from the very human issue of depression. These emotions physically manifest themselves later on as the shadows but all of that is just a metaphor for what so many teens and young adults are really going through.
*TGIB doesn’t delve very deeply into issues of body image and eating disorders BUT I did make a very conscious effort for Bryn’s attitudes about her body to sort of form in isolation, apart from what her peers (like Dani) are feeling/going through. Not only because she has trouble relating to them when it comes to most things anyway but also because I wanted Bryn’s idea of normal/healthy (which is also her idea of “perfection”) to really celebrate the female body. Bryn is used to her weight being all over the place because of her disorder, but because of the nature of the disorder, she often wakes up looking extremely thin and sickly. Bryn hates being reminded of her illness. She hates the control it has over her life and she especially hates the control it has over her body. So waking up and looking like a ghost is absolutely devastating to her. Unlike Dani, all Bryn wants is to look like the young woman that she is–curvy and dimpled and healthy. She just wants to be healthy. I’m glad that I could craft a character who truly values that above all else and views her body as a measurement of that health instead of a measurement of some unrealistic set of ideals that do nothing but cause young girls pain.
*Bryn’s confrontation with Dr. Banz about what the shadows are and what they want was actually one of the last scenes I wrote and was finally finished just days before I uploaded the book on Amazon. I’ve mentioned before that the first few drafts of TGIB were minimal on the paranormal aspects–there were hints of them there but I hadn’t fleshed everything out yet. It took me jumping straight into writing book 2 before I finally got a solid grasp on this story. A lot of readers have pointed out that there’s a huge shift between book 1 and 2 and it’s resulted in a a darker atmosphere that’s turned some of those readers off. But, in my mind, that darker place is where the story was heading all along. I remember tweaking that chapter with Bryn and Dr. Banz talking about the shadows right up until the very last second. I went through multiple drafts, adding more clarification here, increasing the ambiguity there; just trying to strike a balance between what to share with the reader and what not to (mostly because there were still secrets I didn’t even know yet). Ultimately, the most pivotal scenes in this first book were written in the last few drafts, which taught me a lot about the development of a story and how deadlines don’t dictate endings. Sometimes authors don’t either. Sometimes stories take these left turns and all the writer can do is ride the curve or the steep incline or drop off the edge of the cliff along with her readers. So that’s what I did for most of this series. I took a deep breath, my fingers poised over the keys of my laptop, and I dove head first into the unknown, over and over again.
*Trying to capture the emotional intensity of being a musician when you are not a musician is seriously difficult. I tried to learn to play the guitar once, but, you see, my hands never grew past 4th grade and also I have a tendency to get easily discouraged, especially when there is pain involved (Yes, I’m a wimp). BUT I do know what it’s like to create and that sense I think artists are really all the same. It doesn’t matter what our tools are. All that matters is how that experience of making something out of nothing makes us feel and it’s a feeling we can all relate to, even if we can’t always describe it.
*And to sum up my own high school experience…
*And if Bryn’s grandmother wasn’t everyone’s favorite already…