Published by Delacorte Press on August 30th 2016
Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.
Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
As most of you know, my blog focuses on not only books but my struggle with mental health. Both subjects are important in my life. I feel it’s so important to bring awareness to not only young adults but everyone about mental health and the impact it can have. It’s something we should be open and welcoming about. It’s nothing to ever be ashamed of.
When I was offered a chance to interview Kathleen about her book ‘Girl in Pieces’, I knew I had to have her on here. This book has been preordered for a while, and I’m awaiting it’s arrival into the world in 9 days. I can’t wait to add it to my growing list of amazing mental health books.
I want to thank Kathleen for answering all of my questions. It was amazing having her here on the blog. Be sure to check out her book ‘Girl in Pieces’ coming out August 30th.
Mental health books are the genre I’ve started gravitating towards since my own battle started last year. How do you keep yourself together when writing something so emotional and powerful?
I tried to remember that this book would mean something, even if just for one person. I was writing to that person the entire time. And I tried to put a lot of humor and quirk in the book to lighten the mood because even when life is dark, funny stuff tends to creep in anyway.
Self-harm is something I fight against often having BPD. What made you want to touch on such a sensitive subject?
I used some of my past experiences with self-harm to write Charlie’s character, though her story is her own, not mine. I never had a book when I was a teenager that talked about self-harm, though I know there are quite few books like that now. I wrote the book I needed as a teen. You can never have too many books about tough subjects—there is always someone who needs a certain perspective or storyline.
Did you receive any negative feelings about the book when you started writing about a subject that can be so dark?
Some early readers felt the book was too dark, which to me was tantamount to saying, “I don’t think you should write about this, it’s too heavy.” And my response was, “But it happens. It’s real. It affects over one million girls every year. You can’t sweep this under the rug.” I’m always amazed at people who try to ban books for kids based on content—it’s like telling more than half the population under the age of 18 that they don’t exist because their lives are not uniformly sunny and bland.
I find that when authors touch on subjects such as mental health, it’s because they have walked a dark path themselves or know someone who has. Did this book come from a private spot or from being on the sidelines of watching someone struggle? Or was it just a subject you felt strongly about?
I used some of my past experiences with depression to inform Charlie’s character, but her story is fictional. I feel strongly about the fact that our culture doesn’t value the intelligence of teenage girls or their dreams, and only rewards them if they have a certain idealized body type. Part of this book was my attempt to show a girl who learns she matters, and learns to use her voice to get what she wants out of life. Charlie earns every single thing she has in the book, on her own terms.
Was there a point while you were writing ‘Girl in Pieces’ where you just needed to step back and take a break from what was happening within the pages of the book? It’s such an emotional and powerful book for readers so I can only imagine how you felt through the writing process.
Can I be honest? There are two tough scenes in the book (you’ll know them if you read the book) and I wrote the hell out of them once and never looked back. That was self-preservation for me, but also something I needed to do so that readers could really understand why self-harm happens. It isn’t because someone wants attention and is being dramatic. It’s because someone is hurting deeply and this is the only way they can cope.
Though, I did cry while writing some of Charlie’s scenes with Riley, because I knew things about what was wrong with their relationship and she didn’t. If you ask me, writing about romantic heartbreak is the worst. It feels horrible!
Stigma around self-harm and mental health battles in general is so strong that being diagnosed with anything is one of the scariest things a person can face. It makes you feel lonely. How do you feel we could make young adults more aware of the struggles of self-harm?
By publishing books like Girl in Pieces, of course! This is kind of a large question, and I probably can’t do it justice, but I think talking about and making a community where young adults feel safe discussing tough subjects is so important. You shouldn’t have to go through life wearing cardigans and long-sleeved jackets (unless you want to, of course). One of the very few good pieces of advice that Riley gives Charlie is, “You’ve got to own your travels,” and it’s true. Why do we stigmatize depression? Why is it considered a failing to feel things deeply? Or, why are you a failure if the actual chemical make-up of your body makes it impossible to handle your emotions and thoughts without medication? Why do we value body builders who pump enormous amounts of steroids into their bodies, and yet if a girl diets or cuts herself, she’s shamed? Also, why is it when men display depressive tendencies, they tend to be called “passionate and romantic” and when women and girls do it, we’re “uncontrollable” “insane” and “unstable” ? Why is a guy allowed to drink copious amounts of alcohol and it’s called “working off steam” but if a woman drinks too much, she’s a slut who deserves what’s coming to her? Oh, dear, I went on a tangent. SORRY NOT SORRY.
It’s so important for me to find books mental health related because when I was diagnosed, I had NO IDEA what it was. I feel more conversations about all things mental health are needed not only for young adults but adults as well. Are there any mental health subjects you wish YA books would touch on?
Oh, yes. I do wish that physical abuse was talked about more in realistic fiction, because so much depression and additions spring directly from the trauma of abuse. So many kids are living in abusive homes. I touch on this a bit in Girl in Pieces.
Do you have any advice for someone who may be struggling with self-harm, or for someone who may be watching a friend or loved one struggle with the demons of wanting to hurt themselves?
There are a lot of characters in Girl in Pieces who are struggling with forms of depression and addiction, so I would tell readers that if they are suffering from one of those things, or know someone who is, this book might help them. My general advice is actually what helps Charlie in the book: TALK. Find a friend and talk to them. Just talking can really help you clear your head and feel less alone. It’s an excellent first step. It takes a lot of guts to be honest and open, but when you find the person who can handle your honesty, you’ll have hit the jackpot. There are so many great organizations out there now who can help you if you, too, like To Write Love on Her Arms and Crisis Text Line, the Suicide Hot line.
If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help, please consider contacting:
Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
To Write Love on Her Arms: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/
National Runaway Hotline: 1-800-621-4000
About the Author:
Kathleen Glasgow lives in Tucson, Arizona. She writes for the radio show The Writer’s Almanac and can probably provide you with some interesting anecdotes about historical literary figures if you asked nicely. You can find out more about Kathleen by following her on Twitter: @kathglasgow, Instagram, @misskathleenglasgow (where she posts about sunsets, depression, spirit circles, and books) or her website: kathleenglasgowbooks.com.
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