Me, Not Me
Probably the number one question I get asked about Girl in Pieces, my debut young adult novel (besides “How much money did they give you?”) is, “How much of this is your own story?”
When you write a book with a difficult topic (in this case: depression, addiction, homelessness), readers sometimes assume that the main character is a stand-in for the author. This really only happens when the book is contemporary and realistic. After all, no one asks JK Rowling about her days at wizarding school, right?
In my case, the answer is both easy and complicated. Am I Charlie Davis? Was I Charlie Davis when I was younger? No, and yes, kind of. Like Charlie, I was lost, I was hurt, the world was an open wound, and I hurt myself. So yes, I gave Charlie some of the feelings and emotional struggles I had as I found my way in the world. And, like Charlie, I worked in my share of dingy cafes and restaurants and slept in dodgy accommodations and fell in love with the wrong people. But, you know, what person hasn’t?
In crafting the character of Charlie, I did what any author worth her salt does: I figured out who I wanted her to be, what story I wanted to give her and why, and I set about creating a world where I could talk about a hell of a lot of things that make me angry and worried (homelessness, domestic abuse, addiction, depression, body shame).
Charlie doesn’t have a home. She doesn’t have a family. She loves the wrong people. She makes bad choices because she doesn’t yet know what the right ones are. She’s shy. She has a hard time making friends. She hurts herself rather recognizing her own worth. She has to fight for her voice and for her place in the world. Her soul is beautiful and weird and flawed. She’s scared, funny, nice, mean, loving.
All those things? You bet, some of them are me. But also: some of them are you, too.
And that’s the real story of this book: we’re all in it.
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.