Part of the reason my father wanted to own a Barn was so that he could experiment with it. Try things out. Like trapezes. Or gardens. Some of his experiments worked brilliantly; some of them, not so much. One of the more interesting ones was a floor treatment, if that’s what you could call it. Dad cut one-inch slices of 2x4s to use as tiles in the front entry room, what we called the tack room (in the days when the Barn was a working barn, it was where various animal-related gear had been stored). It was a good experiment, a sort of prototype. Dad had big plans, see. For the kitchen. Continue reading “Raised in a Barn: Blocks”…
Month: March 2022
Last year, I read Liz Williams’ lovely novel, Comet Weather. It reminded me of one of my favourite books from my childhood, John Masefield’s The Midnight Folk. It had that same sense of a rural life where history can emerge unexpectedly and where life is not predictable. A little sharp, a little edgy, but very comforting. The Midnight Folk and Comet Weather both fit this description.
Then there’s another book by John Masefield that I love to hate. A Book of Discoveries. I adored everything by him at that point. I went to my favourite secondhand bookshop with Masefield’s work in my mind. The shop was just down the road from where my grandfather’s offices had been in my early childhood. Every time I visited the bookshop, I carefully walked past the old office and waved a little ‘hello.’ This little walk was my favourite form of history emerging (my life experience related to the books I read): I could call on the emotions and remember a decade before whenever I wanted. I could leave out all the sharp edges. My childhood had more sharp edges than I enjoyed, and I had decided that books were the best place to encounter them.
In Berry’s I found my dream copy of Sheridan’s plays. I may introduce you to them one day, along with their erstwhile owner. I also found A Book of Discoveries. I don’t know anything about previous owners of A Book of Discoveries, except that one of them was called Mathieson. Given the date of the volume and the style of the handwriting, Mathieson might have owned the novel when it was new, but they didn’t give a first name, or a date. There were only sixty years between my purchase and the edition (it was from 1910) and it’s a gilded illustrated hardback edition. The book even has the protective paper on its frontispiece and I’ve owned it for about forty-five years: I don’t think it’s had many owners. I nearly gave it away, decades ago, when I felt impossibly guilty about it.
I loved the book when I first read it. It was a prized possession. It feels substantial and adventurous and contained safe adventures for young boys. It wasn’t anything like The Midnight Folk, but it had a certain feel in common with Rudyard Kipling’s Rewards and Fairies. In my mind, I classified it alongside Puck of Pook’s Hill. (That all these books were favourites, and that I read every work of Arthur Ransome I could find over and over again says a lot about my childhood, I suspect.) I spent every cent I had on buying the book, because it fitted so well into my deep desires of what books should be at that point.
A few years later, I studied first year archaeology at university. That was when I discovered the horrid truth: these adventures consisted of private destruction of landscapes. Landscapes and I have a very long association. I myself contributed to the destruction of a tiny bit of 1920s market garden when I did a test archaeological dig in my backyard. When I was eleven, you see, I wanted to be a museum curator, and for that, I needed to understand archaeology. I found some china and a child’s shoe. I was the only member of my family who was excited.
This was just before I read A Book of Discoveries. With that first reading, Masefield validated my personal exploration. I was worried about what the characters did in the novel (my mother taught geology when I was a child and rocks and where they came from coloured so much of my childhood – I was very surprised when none of the other children at school could read landscapes and when only my BFF wanted to) but it wasn’t until I was given concepts to describe how ownership works that I began to worry about the stories I read.
One day I’ll find a new home for The Book of Discoveries. It deserves an owner who covets it as much as I covet my 1967 paperback of The Midnight Folk. I bought The Midnight Folk for 60c, probably in 1969 or 1970. Since my pocket money back then was my age plus 2c, it was quite a big buy. I have never regretted owning it and it’s surprisingly untattered considering how many times I’ve read it. Just looking at the cover takes me into the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t hints of The Midnight Folk in my own writing, just as there are in Williams’. My suspicion is that these hints are in Ms Cellophane or The Art of Effective Dreaming, but that they are half-memories, nothing more.
Train the Dog, but Also Train the Owner…
Last month, I discussed my mixed feelings about sending Max off to Puppy Boot Camp, also known as “board and train.”
When the day came, I packed her into the car and drive about half an hour north, to S., the trainer’s home. S. met us outside, and we talked for a bit – and I admitted that I was about 3 seconds away from grabbing my dog and going home. Apparently this is entirely normal drop-off emotion? Parents of kindergartners may relate.
Eventually, when I couldn’t stall any longer, I handed Max’s leash over to S.
Max wanted nothing to do with that, going flat on the ground like a toddler about to have a tantrum. And I had to take a step back and let someone else – a relative stranger I’d only met once before – handle it.
S. was calm but firm, and eventually Max went into the house with them, and I got back in the car and went home, thinking, “what the fuck have I just done?”
(written a very large check, is what I’d done.)
The first week, I was at Rainforest Writers’ Retreat, and Max would have been in boarding anyway, so it wasn’t too hard. Max was decompressing, so not much happened those first few days for her, either.
The second week, it was…kinda nice? I missed her, but I was also remembering how much time and energy she was eating. I was getting regular updates, meanwhile – photos of her looking energetic and pleased, and video of her working on her skills, focused and happy. So… it was okay. We were all doing okay. The cat, in fact, was doing GREAT. He started sleeping on my pillow again, now that he didn’t have to worry about Max trying to stick her nose in his bidness.
Oh no. This is bad. Am I a bad person for enjoying my dog-free life?
(Parents of summer camp-age children are laughing sympathetically right now, possibly)
The third week… was hard. Even the cat started to look around like, “hey, wait, isn’t someone else supposed to be coming back already?” S. and I had a Zoom meeting to go over the progress Max had made, and… Max was in the background, resting on her cot, not even lifting an ear when she heard my voice.
Shit. My girl had transferred her loyalties. She didn’t miss me!
Then S. pointed out that every time I spoke, Max’s tail thumped. She totally knew it was me, she was excited to hear me – but she had been told to “place” on her cot, and that’s what she was doing.
Oh. Okay. I guess? But then I got handed my own homework: to think about the past two weeks, and what I’d want to do differently when Max came back, if there would be a change in the House Rules.
The main change I decided to make was that Max would sleep in her kennel all the time, not the bed. I know a lot of people are okay with sharing bed space, but Max is ~45 pounds of long, lean canine, and also, she kicks. Other than that… it was going to be a lot of wait-and-see. Her behavior was hopefully going to be different, so I’d work off that.
And then the day came… S. brought Max home. And… she didn’t seem glad to see me?
But the thing was, I’d been used to judging her happiness by her jumping up to greet me. She’s been told not to do that. So I had to look closer. She went straight to her new cot when told to, and settled down… but she was wiggling. And whining. She wanted so badly to get up and greet me with wild abandon, but she was being a Good Girl and staying put.
Even when the cat came in the room. Max perked up and watched the cat intently, but when reminded, she sank back down on her cot and did not do her usual up-in-the-cat’s-bidness greeting.
Holy shit. My Slightly Wild Child had embraced discipline.
And then I was introduced to the discipline I’d have to embrace, for the next few weeks.
Max did her part. And it’s a lot. Ten (10) pages of typewritten instruction, lot. Most of which I already knew, but it’s laid out in black and white now: this is my job. And I’m not saying that as a metaphor; it’s a job.
The next month or so is 100% on me, to maintain her training, to dial up the structure, and dial down the affection, be firm with the rules and consistent with both praise and rebuke, until she accepts that yes, this is how life is, even when her trainer isn’t around It’s been 24 hours as I type this, and I’m already seeing a steady stream of micro-challenges from her as I test what she knows, and she tests what I know.
But we’ll be fine. We got this.
Guest Blog: Tara Gilboy on Why Adults Should Read Middle Grade Novels
Why Adults Should Read Middle Grade Novels
by Tara Gilboy
I don’t read adult books.
Most people give me strange looks when I say this. I’m an author, after all. And a grown up. Why wouldn’t I want to read adult books?
I think my friends and family assume it’s a phase. They are always trying to give me books after they’ve finished them. This one will convince you to read adult books again. Nope.
Now don’t get me wrong: there are many adult books I like. I have a few favorites, and from time to time, I will reread them. I love Jane Austen, Stephen King, and Amy Tan. Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian is a favorite, as is Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. It’s not that I think there is anything wrong with adult books. It’s just that I like middle grade books better.
As I sat down to write this blog post, I realized I’d never really considered closely why I prefer middle grade over adult novels. Whenever anyone asked me, I’d always given the easy answer: “well, it’s because I write them.” (Which seems like the very responsible, professional, “adult” answer.) Or even worse: “ I don’t know. I just like them better.”
But middle grade books are important. For children, yes. But for adults too.
There’s been a lot of crossover in the young adult genre in recent years. Adult readers devour YA books like The Hunger Games, but the same sort of crossover is not seen as often in middle grade. Grown-ups who wouldn’t think twice about purchasing books like Divergent or Children of Blood and Bone are less eager to pick up books like Holes and Ella Enchanted.
I think there is a myth that because middle grade is shorter and written for younger readers, it must be simple or unsophisticated, but nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than making it simple, middle grade’s brevity simply means it is concise, distilled down to its most essential elements with everything extraneous stripped away. Most middle grade books are short enough to be read in one sitting, allowing you to hold the entire story in your mind in a single afternoon.
Middle grade is unpretentious, but not unsophisticated. This is its charm.
Middle grade is all about storytelling. Writing middle grade forces the author to disappear, to remove his or her ego from the writing. Readers don’t want paragraph after paragraph of all the wonderful historical research you did. They don’t care if you can write fancy poetic sentences that are grammatically correct even at a mile long. They don’t want pages of beautifully written exposition. There is a reason that middle grade books are so beloved, the books that often turn many children into lifelong readers. It’s called the “golden age of reading” for a reason. Middle grade draws on traditional storytelling forms. Heroes and quests. Magic. Evil villains.
They can be highly literary but in a way in which the language does not draw attention to itself. Continue reading “Guest Blog: Tara Gilboy on Why Adults Should Read Middle Grade Novels”…
Some writers should introduce themselves…
Today I’m short of time. Always, when I’m short of time I make excuses or take shortcuts. Today, I looked in my e-library (I have a marvellously huge e-library) and wondered if I could find something there that would explain itself. Since I love the work of one Hannah Woolley, who wrote recipe books and other handy guides to everyday life in the seventeenth century, I wondered if I could find something by her and give you extracts, to show you that her work is worth chasing… without arguing or explaining. The book is The Gentlewoman’s Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex, from 1675. Her Epistle dedicatory explains all:
“I have formerly sent forth amongst you two little books; the first called, The Ladies Directory the other, The Cooks Guide both which have found very good acceptance. It is near seven years since I began to write this book, at the desire of the Bookseller, and earnest intreaties of very many worth friends; unto whom I owe more than I can do for them. And when I considered the great need of such a book as might be a Universal Companion and Guide to the Female Sex, in all relations, Companies, Conditions, and states of Life even from Childhood down to Old age; and from the Lady at the Court, to the Cook-maid in the Country: I was at length prevailed upon to do it, and the rather because I knew not of any Book in any Language that hath done the like. Indeed many excellent Authors there be who have wrote excellent well of some particular Subjects herein treated of. But as there is not one of them hath written upon all of them; so there are some things treated of in this Book, that I have not met with in any Language, but are the Product of my Thirty years Observations and Experience.
I will not deny but I have made some use of that Excellent Book, The Queens Closet; May’s Cookery; The Ladies Companion; my own Directory and Guide; Also, the second part of Youth’s Behaviour, and what other Books I thought pertinent and proper to make up a Compleat Book, that might have an Universal Usefulness; and to that end I did not only make use of them, but also of all others, especially those that have been lately writ in the French and Italian Languages. For as the things treated of are many and various, so were my Helps.”
My favourite paragraph is one where Mrs Woolley explains herself so carefully that I wonder just how many times in her life she was mansplained.
“I know I may be censured by many for undertaking this great Design, in presenting to all of our Sex a compleat Directory, and that which contains several Sciences: deeming it a Work for a Solomon, who could give an account from the Cedar to the Hysop. I have therefore in my Apology to the Bookseller, declared ho I came to be of Ability to do it, reciting to him the grounds of my knowledg in all those Sciences I profess and also what practice and experience I have had in the World, left any should think I speak more than I am able to perform. I doubt not but judicious persons will esteem this Essay of mine, when they have read the Book, and weighed it well; and if so, I shall the less trouble my self what the ignorant do or say.
I have now done my Task, & shall leave it to your candid Judgments and Improvement; your Acceptation will much encourage Your Most humble Servant, Hannah Woolly.”
And my job here is done. She has convinced you herself that her writing should be read… or not. To be honest, I like her cookbook and use it a lot. This particular book is more educational and full of moral instruction. It’s like eating a meal with a great deal of fibre. It may be tremendously good for one’s digestion but it’s not nearly as much fun as eating unhealthily. Except that she encourages reading, “one would think to make the preposterous suspitions of some to vanish, who vainly imagine that Books are Womens Academies, wherein they learn to do evil with greater subtilry and cunning; whereas the helps of Learning, which are attained from thence, not only fortifies the best inclinations, but enlargeth a mean capacity to a great perfection.” While her preference is for educative and religious tomes, I hold hope that if she travelled in time, Mrs Woolley might read some of the same books I enjoy.
“Some may imagine, that to read Romances after such practical Books of Divinity, will not only be a vain thing, but will absolutely overthrow that fabrick I endeavoured to erect: I am of a contrary opinion, and do believe such Romaces which treat of Generosity, Gallantry, and Virtue, as Cassandra, Clelia, Grand Cyrus, Cleopatra, Parthenissa, not omitting Sir Philip Sydney’s Arcadia, are Books altogether worthy of their Observation. There are few Ladies mention’d therein, but are character’s what they ought to be the magnanimity, virtue, gallantry, patience, constancy, and curage of the men, might intitle them worthy Husbands to the most deserving of the female sex.”
Her writing style is infectious. That’s the real reason I am full of quotes. It’s either be full of quotes or start to write short fiction as if I were a seventeenth century gentlewoman. Quite simply, there is so much of the culture of England at that time in this book, that every paragraph evokes a reaction. And now I’m arguing you should read the book instead of leaving the argument to the author of the book… I shall end here.
Ways of Telling Stories
Last week I realized Karen Joy Fowler’s latest book was out, so I walked over to East Bay Booksellers to pick up a copy of Booth.
I’d considered waiting. It has never occurred to me to be interested in the family of John Wilkes Booth.
But on the other hand, if I have not read every piece of fiction published by Karen Joy Fowler since I stumbled over an early collection of her short stories in a bookstore in New York City sometime in the 1980s, it is not for want of trying.
I still adore “The View From Venus,” which is one of the first of her stories I ever read. I had a fight with an editor of a science fiction review magazine when I wanted to name “What I Didn’t See” as my favorite story of the year. (He said it wasn’t science fiction. SFWA members disagreed — it won the Nebula that year.)
The Jane Austen Book Club is the only book I can remember that was embraced with equal enthusiasm by my mother, my sister, and I (all big readers, but with different tastes). My friend Anne Sheldon, with whom I share a passion for baseball, got me a signed copy of The Sweetheart Season as a gift.
And We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves blew me away.
So I bought Booth and ended up staying up into the wee hours to finish it the other night because it was just that good.
This was not a case of not being able to put the book down because I had to know what happened next. Booth is an historical novel about the family of the man who murdered Abraham Lincoln. You go into it knowing how it has to end. Continue reading “Ways of Telling Stories”…
When I to went Clarion, waaaaaay back in the day, Algis Budrys taught a lesson on the five beat plot (variously the seven beat plot, the well-made plot, and I’m sure there’s another dozen names for it somewhere). The five beat plot boils down to: 1) the heroine has a problem; 2) the heroine attempts a solution; 3) an obstacle thwarts the solution; 4) the heroine solves the problem; 5) validation. (There are many different names for the five segments, but that’s the essence of the thing.)
Think of stories you’ve read, stories you’ve perhaps loved. I have this dread ring of power, see. I must destroy it! We gather our team. I hit obstacles (boy, do I hit obstacles). Eventually, through toil, danger, and blood, I destroy the ring. But not only have I destroyed the ring, the quest etc. has changed me on a fundamental level. I get to vanish into the West with the elves (and does anyone but me wonder if Bilbo ever felt homesick or bored, there among the elves?). I bet you can think of a zillion works, from Austen to Zelazny, which employ this bare-bones outline.
No, the five beat plot isn’t the only way to tell a story, Continue reading “CODA”…
Prophets and their Gifts
Right now, a lot of my research is about food. Not recipes, nor food history, but how food and foodways creep into fiction. It’ll be a long time before I have research results that I’m willing to share. Right now, I change my mind from day to day as I discover new things. Still, it’s not at all fair to leave you out of my foodways entirely, so I’m going to share with you an old favourite of mine.
In 1552, two little books appeared in the French marketplace. In my perfect world, I would own an original copy of each, but they’re rare and the author is so famous that any copies that appeared would be snapped up for an impossible sum. I own a translation of the books, into English. I could read the original (historians have some handy language tools) but haven’t ever found a modern edition. I was in France in 1995 and found the English translation there. It’s not a big book, even though it rudely fits two old books into one.
Who is this well-known author? Michel Nostradamus, who is more known as a prophet and as a physician than as a cook. Whenever I’ve encountered people who get excited when they hear his name it’s because they want to argue about prophecy. Right now, though, his background as a plague doctor is more appropriate. He was one of the best known and possibly one of the most competent plague doctors in sixteenth century France.
I considered this when I was in the emergency department of the medical side of the university at Montpellier, for he studied there and I had a mysterious disease. I didn’t have plague. But I dreamed of my favourite recipe from Nostradamus’ cookbook as I rested after the appointment and slowly recovered from what turned out to be the side effects of being bitten by a tick. The doctor laughed merrily with his assistant, when they worked out I was Australian and yet had been infected by something in England. They looked up Australia on the computer and noted all the dangerous spiders here and all the snakes and then said “And she went to England for this. York, in the rain.” The actual diagnosis took maybe a minute, and they wrote out prescriptions and descriptions for treatment when they’d finished laughing. At that precise moment I wished I had less French because I could understand every joke they made at my expense.
Nostradamus’ quince recipe was my safe hiding place, I think.
I was in Montpellier researching Langue[dot]doc 1305, but I didn’t call on that incident at all for it. The illness meant I only had a few hours of research a day, because I really wasn’t that well.
I managed to complete all my work thanks to the kind help of people at desks. Two were the senior curators of museums, masquerading as sellers-of-tickets. I asked each of them where I could go in their museum to answer a couple of questions I had. We chatted a minute and they decided to talk me through everything I needed. Two hours, in each case, with people who knew more about the precise material I needed than were in any book. One also sold me a hard-to-find book I desperately needed, so I read that during my many hours of enforced rest.
Hearing the medical jokes at my expense was the downside of having enough French, but being able to talk the Middle Ages with experts was definitely the upside. It might also have helped that I knew a fair amount already: I was asking as an SF writer, but had a PhD in Medieval History backing it.
The third desk person was at the tourist office in the town I was setting the novel in. She had copies of unusual material hiding behind the desk and brought them out for me. In return, I told her how to make Nostradamus’ version of quince jelly.
I wish I had been able to go back one more time after I had digested all that material, because there are some questions I really wanted more answers to. I live on the other side of the world, and a return visit wasn’t possible. Still, Nostradamus and his recipes have an indelible link with Langue[dot]doc 1305.
I didn’t put even a single recipe for quince jelly in the novel. I regard this as neglectful, but I can tell you now, even my mother thinks that he had a very fine recipe. She tested it, some years back.
A Virtual Reading: Promo With a Few Thoughts
As you can see from the picture above, I’m reading on St. Patrick’s Day (Thursday, March 17) with five other authors as part of the Strong Women/Strange Worlds online reading series. The reading runs an hour, starting at 7 pm US EDT, which is 4 pm out here on the U.S. West Coast, late morning on the 18th in Australia, and the middle of the night in the U.K.
You can register for this free event here. Each author is doing some form of giveaway as part of the reading. I’m offering a print copy of For the Good of the Realm to one person in the US and an e-copy for a person living in other places. (The cost of shipping books these days is beyond the means of most writers, especially when the shipping costs more than the book.)
The people behind this reading series started it after some of them did a Zoom reading at a virtual convention and realized they could do such things without the convention. They’ve put together an organized system, with a set of tips for readers, and they solicit applications from people who’d like to participate.
Virtual readings are one of the good things that have come from the complicated times of the pandemic. Many conventions were cancelled or held virtually and most bookstores and libraries stopped holding events.
I suspect virtual readings are going to stick around. They can draw a worldwide audience — though the time of day may be less convenient in some locales — which is a lot better than the crowd a writer can get at the local bookstore. And the audience can listen while doing other things. (I like to listen to readings while cooking or eating dinner.)
I did several last year. FOGcon, our local convention here in the San Francisco Bay Area, has been doing a series of both readings and panels to make up for not holding a convention. Laura Blackwell and Daniel Marcus do Story Hour each Wednesday, with two authors each reading a short story. I enjoyed reading both places.
The only drawback to the virtual reading is that you can’t see your audience while you’re reading. When I’m reading in person, I’m always attuned to audience reaction. I miss that in the virtual events.
I’m also a big fan of group readings, both online and in-person. For an author, it’s great because it expands the audience beyond the people who’ve heard of you. And when you listen to such readings, you often find a writer you want to check out.
And if you don’t like someone’s work, well, they’re only reading for a short period of time! In this case, we’re reading for 8 minutes each.
The main difference between the rules for doing virtual readings and the rules for doing in-person ones is that you focus on where your camera is, not on a sea of faces, and that you have to make sure your tech is working. Otherwise, it’s basically the same: be on time, don’t run over your time slot, make sure you can be heard and understood, and listen politely while the others read. (For online readings, listening politely includes making enthusiastic comments in the chat since no one will see your reactions otherwise.)
I’m hoping to go to a convention or two this year and read in person there. I’m also hoping bookstores around here will start holding more events and that the several Bay Area reading series will start back up on a permanent basis. However, I’m also one of those people who thinks we need to be stay vigilant about the pandemic, so I’m not going to push too hard for a return to indoor un-distanced socializing.
The good news remains that we’ve learned to do some things very effectively online. Readings are one of them.
Hope to “see” some of you at this one.
Guest Blog: B.A. Williamson on Being a Bipolar Writer
On Being a Bipolar Writer
By B.A. Williamson
It’s pretty hard to write this right now. Each sentence is taking a conscious effort. Why? Well, I’m depressed. Unsurprisingly, given the current circumstances. Cancelling all my book launch events and conference panels didn’t help.
There’s not always a reason. Occasionally this just happens. But I can say this depression is “just a phase” without any hint of condescension, because for me, it’s true. I’m bipolar.
Sometimes I just want to lay on the couch and escape. Hours of video games are good for this, though not exactly healthy. I suffer from the emptiness and lethargy that is familiar to millions of sufferers of depression.
What’s less familiar is the other side of the coin—my manic episodes. I have unlimited energy and focus, and can dive into projects for hours on end, and the words just flow. Everything I write is the best thing anyone has ever written. (Impaired judgment is another symptom.)
Manic energy can be a superpower, if harnessed correctly. I can hit any deadline, tackle any obstacle, and breeze through it with the confidence of a narcissistic tiger owner. But as I said, it’s a double-edged sword. The crushing writer’s despair is even worse, and can wipe out all the progress I’ve made.
Writing helps. Getting things out on the page helps. During a depressive episode, it takes a monumental effort to sit down and get moving. But even as I type this, it has become easier. I do feel better. I’m not agonizing over every punctuation mark, and hey, I’ve produced about 250 words so far! Halfway there.
Routines help, too. And outlines. The less you have to think, the lower the energy it takes to get started. I don’t have to think, just check the outline, do what it says, and follow the routine. They also keep me moving at those times when I’m balanced, and don’t have that supply of manic energy to rely on.
Whenever I want to give up before I’ve even started, I tell myself to write three sentences. That’s the rule—three sentences, then you can quit. Anyone can write three sentences. My seven-year-old can write three sentences. And to this day, I’ve never stopped at three sentences. I may only get a few paragraphs, but that’s still overshooting my goal by quite a bit.
So when my precious (fictional) girl Gwendolyn Gray started showing the same symptoms, I was hardly surprised. In fact, it fit my story very well, and I had a compelling and unique character arc. I work with middle schoolers, and they suffer from depression and anxiety at alarming rates. Anyone shocked? Think back to middle school. It’s a terrifying, stressful, horrific experience for many of us. Now we have the awareness and language to properly describe the toll it takes on our kids. But conversations about mental health are all-too-often relegated to the land of Young Adult, while our adolescents are talked down to or treated as if their problems couldn’t possibly be all that bad.
I felt it was really important to show a story where a character grows up, and kids could see a reflection of their own struggles. As Gwendolyn struggles with larger-than-life monsters, readers can see a reflection of their own struggles that can feel so much bigger than themselves. And as her external struggles are a metaphorical mirror for their own, her internal struggles create a much more literal parallel. Her internal reactions give them something to relate to, and see themselves taken seriously. Continue reading “Guest Blog: B.A. Williamson on Being a Bipolar Writer”…