Three years ago as of this week, the novel I’d consider the “Book of My Heart” was published. Tomorrow, on Saturday, June 14, when Imaginary Girls is officially three years old, I will tell you all why it connects so deeply to me and why I’d consider it the book of my heart apart from all books I’ve written or will write. I’ll also hold a giveaway for some elusive hardcovers!
So what is a book of an author’s heart, you may ask—and why say such a thing about one book and not others, when we love all our books and put pieces of ourselves into every one? I’ve asked a few author friends to share the book that holds a distinct and special place in their heart and tell us why.
Here is Corey Ann Haydu revealing how hard she tried not to write the book of her heart, but she did, and you’ll be able to read it in the fall of 2015. Here’s how it came to be…
Guest post by Corey Ann Haydu
I tried not to write The Book of My Heart. I tried so hard not to write it, that I didn’t, in fact, write it. The first draft of RULES FOR STEALING STARS had most of the elements that are in the book today. Four sisters. A troubled family. A bit of magic. A girl named Silly.
But it didn’t have my heart.
The problem with writing RULES FOR STEALING STARS is that I wanted to write about a kind of grief that I understood, but without actually writing the hard parts. The parts where you watch your world crumble. The real panicked, hopeless moments that are sometimes part of families and childhood and life, in general.
So I wrote the After. I thought I was writing the hard part. I would have told anyone who would listen that I was writing the hard part. But I was writing the After. I was writing the moment after the hardest moment.
I was not asked to add the hard part. I don’t think anyone knew I had skipped the hard part except for me, and I only knew because of a note my editor gave me on my first draft. It was an open-ended, big picture sort of question which is the best kind of question to get asked by your editor. A question that makes you think but doesn’t give you the answer.
Something’s missing in the plot, she said. She didn’t say what. She mused about different characters and their journeys and how building up or tearing down bits and pieces of their journeys might solve the problem.
As soon as the question was asked, I knew the answer.
I had to write the thing I didn’t want to write. I had to write the messy parts of families. Not the after, but the before. The DURING. Not when something is already gone, but when you are in the process of losing it.
Sometimes a hard story is when something is taken from you. Lots of wonderful moments take place in the year after a death or a loss or a trauma. But the story of Silly and her sisters is one where they are watching things fall apart. I was scared to write those scenes. I know a little something about watching things fall apart.
RULES FOR STEALING STARS is the book of my heart not because I went through exactly what Silly goes through at the exact age she goes through it. It is the book of my heart because while I was writing it, I was also in the process of loss. The during. The watching and the waiting. Not the before and not the after. I wanted to write the after, I tried to write the after, because in some ways I wanted to be there. I maybe even thought I was there.
Sometimes when we’re writing we skip over the most important parts. The hardest parts. The emotional parts. We do that to protect ourselves. It takes some amount of hurt to write hurt, in my experience, and we skip those hard parts so that the characters don’t have to feel the full extent of the pain of life, and neither do we.
I skipped the hard parts, but it took a little while for me to see it. It was unpleasant to admit that I had written the wrong part of the book. That while I’d been congratulating myself for how brave I’d been, I’d actually shied away from the scary parts.
So I rewrote the book.
The revision process for RULES FOR STEALING STARS was the hardest I ever had. The emotional journey of the characters had to be reimagined, and the heart of the book had to grow and shift and find a new way to beat.
The book of my heart has to be the book that is about the hardest parts and the things that break us. And because I am a girl who believes in the After and the What’s Next and the Surviving, it also has to be a book about hope. So it is both a book about the things that break us and the things that put us together. About the things that seem hopeless and the places we find hope.
It is a book about a girl and her sisters and the During. And the hope, hope, hope for an After.
Corey Ann Haydu is the author of OCD LOVE STORY (S&S 2013), LIFE BY COMMITTEE (HC, 2014), MAKING PRETTY (HC, 2015), and RULES FOR STEALING STARS (HC, 2015). Visit her at www.coreyannhaydu.com or follow her on Twitter @CoreyAnnHaydu.
The posts in the Book of Your Heart series:
- The Book of Your Heart Series: Camille DeAngelis
- The Book of Your Heart Series: Tessa Gratton
- The Book of Your Heart Series: Brandy Colbert
- The Book of Your Heart Series: Dahlia Adler
Come back tomorrow for my own post about my book of my heart, and for the giveaway of Imaginary Girls!