Thank you, Flora, for inviting me to share on your blog.
I thought I would talk about the elements of me that end up in my writing. I write in two genres. When I write in fantasy, everything is created in my imagination. I don’t tap into any of my own experiences because I’m creating an imaginary world and characters that are outside of myself, but when I write in YA, I admit that I often draw on many of my own experiences although I’m not so bold as to write my own life. Of course, I don’t give all of my characteristics to all of my characters, but within several of them, you can find pieces of me.
I described Aralyn Liddell in Plain Jane to look like me. My hair is naturally dark brown, and as a child I always felt that it was dull and bland. My lips are very thin, and it always bothered me. I felt lipless! The way she saw herself is the way I saw myself, but not all of her attributes were mine. I created in her the intelligence level that I always desired to have rather than the one I had. She was brilliant; I did well in school, but I had to work for my grades. Her struggle with self-esteem is one that I related to, but her life was not mine, her family dynamic was not mine, and her first experience with love was not mine. I did, however, experience similar triumphs and similar heartbreak. I knew what it felt like to suffer the darkness of depression, but my fall into the black abyss was different from Aralyn’s. My struggle to regain myself was much more complex, but I used the things that I had been through and reached down into every emotion that I had felt during those bleak years to write a story that depicted how a sweet, smart girl could end up in such a dark place.
In Pretty Boy, the companion novel to Plain Jane, I drew from a piece of my heart rather than a piece of me. Now, you may be thinking that they are one and the same, but they are not. I described the main character, Ray, to look like my husband, tall, thin, dark hair, brown eyes, and of Italian descent. My husband is a large part of my heart, so I feel that describing Ray as such was taking a piece of my heart and putting it on paper.
None of my physical attributes were given to Susan in Wildflowers, nor did I write her to see herself the way I saw myself. I did, however, write her to be shy, and I used to be shy back when I was in school. I grew up and overcame that for the most part, but there’s still that part of me deep down inside that rises to the surface in new situations. Sometimes I force myself to lasso that piece of my personality and allow the open, funny, quirky, and bold side of me to be seen. Once I feel completely comfortable, the lasso can be let loose without fear of my shyness rising back up.
The piece of me that most often came through in Wildflowers was my understanding of how it feels to be beat down mentally, emotionally, and even physically. I did not grow up in an abusive home, but I did enter a relationship that turned out that way (I’m no longer in that situation, by the way), so it’s easy for me to relate to those who are going through that sort of thing.
The things I’ve been through in my life have molded me into the person I am today. My teenage years were very difficult and hard to overcome. I think that’s why I write the YA stories I write and share little pieces of me along the way. It’s the hope that someone out there will pick up one of my books and read it and know that they are not alone in what they are going through.