Our guest blogger this week is Eve Ainsworth. Some of you might remember Eve, she’s blogged here before. Eve’s an award-winning author of teen fiction, so her books are more suitable for older readers. Eve’s going to tell us about her new book, Damage. Welcome back to GHB, Eve. Thanks for stopping by.
Writing from the heart.
Starting a new book is always hard, any author will tell you that. There is something quite terrifying about the blank page that sits in front of you. OK, you might have lots of words and ideas in your head – but somehow you have to untangle them from the twisted confines of your brain and get those thoughts out in the open. And sometimes that can be the hardest part of all.
Writing a new book is also tough because the same insecurities pinch at you – will it be good enough? Will people actually like it? Can I make the story work? For Damage it was even tougher for me – because the story felt so personal and real.
I knew that Damage was going to be a book about grief and self-harm. These were topics that I wanted to cover further because it was something I had seen a lot of teens struggle with when I was working in schools. But I wanted to get the balance right. This couldn’t be a preachy book. I just wanted to tell the story of a girl who was struggling and making some bad choices. That happens sometimes. We can all take a path that is a little darker than others. The key is how we deal with it and how we come out the other side.
Ok, so I managed to get the first line down (the hardest part for me). And actually I started the story easily enough. My character, Gabi – a cool, self-assured skater girl was also pretty fully formed. It should have been fairly straight forward from then on. Except it wasn’t. I never realised how much the themes of grief, regret and self-harm would affect me as a writer.
I’d not experienced self-harm personally, but I’d worked with many young people that had hurt themselves so this was something I had to re-visit. I talked to other people that had experienced this. I read more materials and went into chat rooms. It’s a tough and very misunderstood subject and it became clear early on that I needed to tread carefully with this subject and be extra sensitive to the topic as a whole. Like never before, I realised I was writing something that I had to get right – or at least as right as I could, and that was an added pressure.
On top of this, I’d chosen to cover grief and this was a subject I knew all too well. Only two years before I’d lost someone extremely close to me and having to re-visit those emotions was hard. I hope that it makes the writing more sincere and honest, but it also meant that this became my most personal book so far. I guess a piece of me lives in Damage, which is a strange unsettling feeling.
Damage might be about self-harm and a girl who is trapped in a cycle of hurt, but it is also a story of emotional pain. It’s about having feelings inside of you that scare you, that hurt you, that feel like they might rip you in two. I guess I was lucky in that when I experienced emotional pain and trauma, I could talk to someone. I could cry. But not everyone can. Sometimes this stuff ends up trapped inside and the pressure builds.
I hope that by reading books like this we can continue to raise awareness, improve empathy for those that are struggling and continue to have open discussions. Because sometimes life is hard. And sometimes we all need a little help to deal with it. I believe reading can help.
Reading and talking always helps.