distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

Who’s Your Book For?

My books are pretty personal, even though they’re fiction. Imaginary Girls was inspired by, and written for, someone special to me, someone I’ve loved since she took her very first breath in the upstairs bedroom of the farmhouse she was born in and I saw her open her eyes.*

Of course that person is my little sister, Laurel Rose. (Our family likes to call her Rose.) I’ve written before about Rose—for example, here, looking back on a photograph of the day I left for college. Since then, I grew up, and she grew up, and though we live in different cities we’re still very close, inside, where it counts. You’ll find her name on the dedication page of Imaginary Girls.

I should say that Imaginary Girls is actually told through the voice of the little sister—Chloe—about her mysterious and almost mythical older sister, Ruby. In real life, I’m more Chloe than Ruby—when you read the book, and read more about Ruby, you’ll see why—though Rose and I do share some of the sister traits Ruby and Chloe share in the novel. But what’s absolutely true to life and not at all fictionalized is the love the sisters share, especially how Ruby feels about her baby sister, Chloe, who she pretty much raised herself.**

So you can imagine that I wanted Rose to have a copy of my book!

Here’s the photo my sister sent me from Philadelphia after she opened the package and found the ARC inside:

I think she has the most beautiful dark brown eyes. (My sister, not the ARC.)

Rose said, and I quote:

“The first time I saw it I jumped up and down (my dog Marley did too) and I cried and sashayed and discoed a little. Then I came home and pulled it together.”

During these moments she and I also exchanged many exhilarated exclamation-point-ridden communications via text message, and I can’t even tell you how happy it made me to be able to give her an ARC.

(Btw: I have a couple more ARCs, and right now the giveaway to win a signed one is still open… So YOU could be the one opening a package with my ARC inside and then sashaying and discoing a little! Just leave a comment on this post and I’ll pick a winner Monday night. Photos of discoing and sashaying fully optional.)

More about my sister: If you happen to live in the Philadelphia area, and like to eat food (uh, who doesn’t!), you should read her writing for City Paper, for the What’s Cooking? column, and for the food blog Meal Ticket! Every week, my favorite thing she writes is the Snack Time roundup, in which she cracks me up.

This post will eventually have a sequel, even if the book doesn’t, because there’s someone else*** who made Imaginary Girls possible. Unfortunately, he doesn’t like to be photographed… But more on him soon, I’m sure.

So… tell me: Who’s your book for?

* In Imaginary Girls, it’s said that Ruby witnessed her little sister, Chloe, be born at home on the futon. My little sister was born at home, too, and I actually did witness it. Then, I seem to remember that my mom had a big party—or maybe the whole day was a party… perhaps she can clarify. I remember it as an exciting, wondrous event—most of all because I was gifted with a baby sister.

** Imaginary Girls is clearly fiction—and the magical realism aspect of the story is just one element of that. Another is the fact that, in reality, Rose and I have the most adorable, fantastic mom, so we weren’t left to our own devices while growing up. You should meet our mom! My first book was dedicated to her, and in fact, the fierce loyalty and selfless love Ruby has for Chloe is a mirror of how our mom is for her three kids—me, my brother, and my sister. My mom does very important work helping many people, and I know I’m not the only person who thinks she’s magic. Here’s a photo of me, Rose, and Mom at a book signing in my hometown.

***  You’ll also find a certain someone on the dedication page of both my books: E. But that’s a love story I’ll save for another day.

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12 responses to “Who’s Your Book For?”

    • How can I “like” this comment? Consider it liked, Annika.

      (Though in reality my sister was born on a bed.)

  1. This si such a wonderful post. I grew up as an only child and I always wanted a brother or a sister. I really hope my son and his future sibling (!) have such a lovely relationship.

  2. I think most stories/novels are personal on some level, even if they don’t seem like it on the surface. Right now, I am working on my 1st novel “Sunset West” (name subject to change) and the main character is an marginally functional alcoholic. Although I have never had a problem with alcohol, I have lived with someone who did. I wasn’t in their head, but I was in mine and I know the types of thoughts I had during that time. I think my main character is going to be a representation of all that pent up anger inside me. So my first novel is really for me.

    Other story ideas are based on my experience in the field of mental health. Each of my characters will embody some sort of psychological difficulty or trauma that the people I’ve worked with have experienced. So really, I think these novels are really for “everybody.” I want people to connect to something in each of the characters I create because it’s the people I work with day to day that inspire them.

  3. I love you all so much…whenever I read anything written by any of you, I cry. I’m not sure what the tears mean but I think they have something to do with a love that’s bigger than this body can contain. Can’t wait to read this next novel, Nova. Kissses and hugs and congratulations!!!

  4. I want to respond to this on my blog–this is a good question to ask (and for me to answer), and it has dredged up a lot of thoughts and feelings that have been circulating in my head, thoughts that haven’t come into focus in the form of words just yet. Which means: I should get the words down! Also, I think your sister is BEAUTIFUL!

  5. I’m going to have saying I love this post, but dang, Nova, you have such a gift for being so personal and touching in your blogs. It us want to read your work more.

    My WIP is for my mom. It’s a story about a girl with dreams and the mother who didn’t want to let her go – but did anyhow.

  6. My book is for women just like me — those who thought they were in a perfectly happy marriage, those who thought they were married to their best friend, those who loved their life and their family and their daily grind.

    Only to have it all come to a grinding halt with the discovery of a series of big, life-changing lies.

    It turns out, there are so many of us out there. And as I was going through my divorce, so ashamed of my situation, I started realizing how frequently betrayal happens. And how much better it feels to know there are others out there, experiencing the same pain and horror.

    And that’s when I started writing about my crazy life — and found humor and snark and sassiness as an anecdote to the crazy. My life is a constant case of “you can’t make this sh*t up,” and I think people who’ve been through similar situations can so relate.

    So my book, a non-fiction humor/self-help/memoir, is writte for those who can relate. And there are a ton of us out there…

    Thanks for making me define it. Or at least begin to define it… 🙂

  7. I love you all so much…whenever I read anything written by any of you, I cry. I’m not sure what the tears mean but I think they have something to do with a love that’s bigger than this body can contain. Can’t wait to read this next novel, Nova. Kissses and hugs and congratulations!!!

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