I think we all need people who inspire us, who help us believe that things can get better and positive change can happen. When I was growing up abused and tortured, my parents kept me very isolated--I didn't know most popular culture, even actors or popular singers. But what I did have were books.
Many of the characters in books became inspirations for me--people who were kind or good or did things to help save others. I didn't have that in my life in the people around me, so book characters helped me to believe in the good in people, and that people could make positive things happen out of something negative, like Dicey in Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt, Simon in Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken, Kit in Down A Dark Hall by Lois Duncan. But later, also through books as well as TV, I gained some new heroes, actual living people, such as Ellen Bass and Laura Davis who wrote The Courage To Heal--a book that has helped thousands of incest survivors; Gloria Steinem, who worked so hard at equal rights for women, for the LGBTQ community, to help end sexism, and more; Ellen DeGeneres, for helping create an even greater acceptance of LGBTQ community; and Oprah, for being open about being an incest survivor and increasing awareness about incest and many forms of abuse. I am grateful to both these real live heroes and to the many I found in books. All helped me believe in the good in people.
I always write strong girl characters--characters who are emotionally strong, who fight to survive, to live, to heal, and to make things better. I hope the characters in my own books will inspire others the way that other authors' characters, and some live people, have inspired me.
Caitlyn is a telepath in a world where having any Paranormal power is illegal. Caitlyn is on the run from government troopers, who can enslave, torture, or even kill her, or make her hunt other Paranormals. When Caitlyn settles down in a city, she falls for Alex, a Normal (someone without Paranormal powers), which is dangerous because he can turn her in. And she discovers renegade Paranormals who want to destroy all Normals. Caitlyn must decide whether she's going to stay in hiding to protect herself, or take a stand to save the world.
I love to read. Books nurture me, helped me survive the abuse I endured as a child and teen. I also love to write. I write fantasy books and edgy, realistic fiction for teens.
My fantasy books often hold hope that I need, and feel others might need, too, while my realistic fiction is gritty, intense, and emotional. All of my books have fragments of the abuse I experienced. I write about some of the harsh things teens go through...things that I think shouldn't be hidden. But I also write about healing, hope, and love, and finding courage and strength.
In SCARS (WestSide, 2010), Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself before it's too late. It's my arm on the cover. There's a lot of me in SCARS; like my main character, Kendra, I am an incest survivor, I used self-harm to cope, and I'm queer. In my teen paranormal fantasy/dystopian, HUNTED (WestSide, Oct 2011), Caitlyn is a telepath in a world where that is illegal, and she must choose between saving herself or saving the world. Like Caitlyn, I know what it's like to have my life threatened, to face oppression, to experience torture, and to break free from cult or from a group of oppressors. And I know what it's like to have to decide between hiding my true self or being who I am, even if that means danger to myself. I drew on my experience with cults and ritual abuse in creating the world that Caitlyn lives in.
In STAINED, my upcoming YA novel from Harcourt (2013), Sarah, who has a port wine stain and some body image issues, is abducted and must find a way to rescue herself. Like Sarah, I was often imprisoned for long periods of time as a child, had my life threatened, and had to rely on my own strength to survive.
Books were my survival during my childhood, and my journey into myself. Books give me hope. I hope mine will give you hope, too, or something that you need.
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