Joining us today for Death and Bereavement Week to talk about her debut YA novel, And By the Way..., is author Denise Deegan.
Every story starts somewhere, sometimes with the tiniest idea that just takes on life and grows. And By The Way did not start as a story of loss. It began as a voice that entered my head, one afternoon, in a coffee shop. It was the angry, sarcastic but also vulnerable voice of Alex (16), who was talking at her rock-star father. Alex was coming from a place of hurt. I didn’t, at the time, know what that hurt was. I let that come, the same way I let Alex’s voice come, to see where it would take me.
As the story formed, it became clear that Alex’s turmoil was caused by the loss of her mother to cancer, (six months before the story opens), and the loss of her father to work. And By The Way explores, not just how two people can react so differently to loss, but how one person’s reaction can impact so strongly on another.
Alex’s circumstances highlight how influenced children are by their parents’ response to grief. Alex lost, not just her mother, but her father, as, unable to cope, he turned to his music, unaware how his actions might be misinterpreted by his lost and vulnerable daughter. Yes, he hired ‘the experts’. It was he Alex needed.
When the book opens, Alex is beginning to adopt a coping strategy. She is hardening, pulling back emotionally, so she doesn’t leave herself open to that kind of loss again. Alex doesn’t see that she is sabotaging herself, that if unchecked, her actions will lead to the loss of people who genuinely care. Two of those people are determined not to let that happen.
I did not want to write a sad book, just an honest one. I wanted it to be warm and human and infused with humour and ultimately love. I have published four other novels and have never received the response I have from And By The Way. People’s reaction has blown me away.
Thank you, Denise, for a great guest post! Don't forget to check out Denise's website. What did you think about what Denise had to say?