I was inspired to write about teen suicide when a young colleague’s friend committed suicide. I was touched deeply by his experiences in dealing with the emotions and events surrounding his friend’s continuous attempts and finally success at suicide. I feel that as humans living in an age where mental illness has become common place, discussions of suicide are imperative to our ability to cope with our own minds as well as our loved ones.
– When reading I found the novel would do very well in the YA audience , was that your aim or do you feel it has a broader appeal?
As an author, I struggled greatly with deciding who my audience for this book needed to be. I hated to aim it at young adults because I was in my late twenties when I was inspired to write this story. However, I would never exclude young adults as an audience because I feel that young adults sometimes face more adult situations that we adults face. They’re even more bombarded by adult situations such as sex, drugs, and mental illness than those of us that are more settled into life. So I did not set out to create a young adult novel, but I feel there is a solid place for my story in young adult literature.
– Did you find it difficult writing about such a taboo subject? And is there a message you are trying to reach out to your audience?
Actually, I found that talking openly about the subject of suicide to be liberating. There are few people in my life that I can speak openly about it even though nearly everyone in my life has been deeply, even intimately, touched by suicide. It’s one of the reasons I love writing. It’s the one time I don’t have to sensor my words or thoughts the way I have to do in daily conversation.
The biggest message I wanted to send to my audience is that it is okay to exercise freedom of choice, and not just about end of life decisions. We all have decisions to make about friends, family, and exploring our world. Those choices have real consequences, and affect those around us. We may not like those consequences or those affects, but that doesn’t take away our freedom to make our choices. That’s what makes it a choice, and we shouldn’t fear choice. Good and bad are relative. Only the individual can weigh those outcomes.
– Do you think the people around Logan did enough to stop him from wanting to commit suicide or do you think in some cases as to quote from your book, we are not meant for the life we are given?
That’s a really tough question. With regards to the real life circumstances that inspired my story, I think there are things that the kid’s family and friends could have done to prevent him from ending his life. However, it would have involved sending him deeper into a state that would have only encouraged his suicidal desires. I don’t think that the darkness would have been worth it. Yes, they would have kept him alive, but at what cost to him? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that people should stop helping their loved ones to overcome the darkness they feel inside, but rather than trying to “fix” someone, I think friends and family should try to help their loved ones find joy and happiness in life. If they can do that, then they can be at peace even if their loved one still makes the decision to kill themselves. That loved one knew they were loved, accepted, and at peace with friends and family. I think that is the most we can do for one another in life.
– how difficult was your journey to get published? Do you have one piece of advice you can give to any new writers hoping to get published?
I struggled for a long time with the decision to self-publish as I did. In the end, I made the decision to do so, because I wanted to be able to control my story. I didn’t want a publisher telling me how the story needed to change, when I felt it was complete as it was. Making that decision was the most difficult part of the process. After that, it was just a matter of making careful decision to make sure I was publishing a quality product. Spend time rewriting, deleting, creating new scenes. Hire professionals to edit and design. Yes, it’s tough to spend money when you have none, but if getting published is important to you, you should be willing to throw some money at it.
My advice to new writers hoping to get published would be to keep your expectations real. Writing is the fun part. Getting your writing published is work. That’s the part that is going to make you earn every penny you ever make from your writing, which probably won’t be much. The good part is that you wrote, and that is the most fulfilling part of the whole thing. Every time you get discouraged, hang onto the moments you most loved with your character. There’s nothing that beats being in a scene with your character when he or she is being a real, living being.
– If you could share a drink and pick the mind of any author (living or past) who would it be and why?
I would have to pick Stephan Grundy author of Rhinegold and Attila’s Treasure. Mostly because I can’t get enough of his words. I probably wouldn’t ask him any questions, I’d just make him tell me more about his characters of the amazing stuff he knows. Every author has a huge stash of notes and world building. I would want to know everything that he ever wrote in those notes to make his characters so real to me and his stories so textural.
– And finally congratulations on the novel, very well written and I hope it does well, are you currently working on anything and if so can you give us a sneak peek?
I’m always working on a lot of things. Something with Cigarettes
was actually the third story I wrote. It just happened to be the first one ready to present to the world. I’m not quite sure which one will be the next one I put out, but right now, I’m working pretty heavily on a story told from a yeti’s perspective. I have a lot of really tough decisions to make about it, but it’s what I’m currently most excited about. It’s currently titled Justice to the Yeti
. I’m also floating around a YA story of a youth that comes face to face with a god in the form of a fish. This is the time of year that I really delve into my writing, and I’m never sure where it’ll take me.Thank you so much Tiffany.
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