Carey's guest post:
First of all, I want to thank Julie for the opportunity to be a guest at My Only Vice. I'm honored. Julie asked me what my inspiration for After the Snow Falls was--basically why I would choose such a difficult topic to write about, and whether there was a personal connection to the events of the story. (For a synopsis of the story, see the review yesterday.)
I don't think I set out to write about a difficult topic. My desire was to write something meaningful. I think it's just as possible to write something meaningful in a quirky, light hearted way. I really enjoy authors who are able to do that--to entertain you and keep you laughing and then turn around and make you take a look at yourself in the mirror.
I would actually like to be able to write that kind of fiction. I wrote a short piece once for a fiction class in which I created a character named Adelia Foster who was perpetually pregnant. This is part of the description of her:
But Adelia Foster did not glow and she did not look beautiful. She was a giant swollen marshmallow.
One day, perhaps, I'll be able to explore her further. I'd like to see her come to life in a story.
As far as what inspired me to write After the Snow Falls, I don't know that on a conscious level I was really aware of it until someone in my critique group asked me the same question: what motivated you to write about a topic like this? And I suddenly realized I was probably trying to work out an experience I had as a young person. When I was twelve years old, a family friend died of leukemia at the age of four. That experience had a profound effect on me, and I remember thinking: couldn't there have been some other outcome?
For some of the medical details, when I first began researching this story, I read the entire blog of a woman whose daughter had the same diagnosis as Caleb does. I followed this little girl's fight with her disease until the last post--the announcement of her passing. The mother wrote about her daughter with courage and strength of character. That mother was the inspiration for Leigh, who befriends Celia. In many ways, she was a compass to me as I wrote the story--a way to remember to keep the balance between the realities of the situation, and the joys that life brings even in the midst of it.
I think Celia, the main character, by contrast doesn't always handle things with strength and dignity, but there's probably more of me in Celia. The big lesson she has to learn is forgiveness. That's something I've definitely had to live through as well.
I guess ultimately, life is difficult and messy and imperfect, and my characters and their lives are too, but in the midst of that difficulty, there is hope. If readers come away with one impression after putting down my book, I would want it to be that.
Thank you so much Carey for your guest post! Carey has kindly offered to give away a copy of her book to one reader for either a Kindle or Epub. Leave a comment on this post and a winner will be selected next Wednesday December 22nd.