Welcome to our first First Friday Feature. Amanda and I decided that we should switch up the Friday’s Let’s Talk and do something fun the first of the month. I chose first Friday because in our city downtown does a First Friday Artwalk. I thought I would join in on the fun of appreciating artist’s and giving them a chance to shine. Every month we will feature an author with an interview or guest post.
This First Friday Feature, we would like to welcome Wendy Owens. She wrote the book Wash Me Away which I reviewed yesterday. I have it for you here.
Irony would have it that I read two books featuring teenage suicide, back to back. I have no idea how that worked out, it was not planned. I really appreciated how Owens dealt with the issue in a respectful, careful way. I felt like the other author did not take such care, and it made me mad. As Owens mentions in her book suicide is the third leading cause of death in American teenagers is suicide.
I was super curious as to why each respective author chose to deal with the subject matter how they did. I decided to ask Wendy Owens to join me for an interview to see what motivated her to write about the subject of teenage suicide.
I’m going to insert a shameless plug. I really liked, perhaps even loved, the care Owens put into her book. Maybe you have figured out by now I can be a tad opinionated… I think the way she handled this subject is exemplary and other writers (the unspecified other book) could take a lesson from her. I was super humbled at Owens approach to my questions, particularly when concerning other writers. Perhaps I could take a lesson on tact… I thought about it… a
Perhaps I could take a lesson on tact… I thought about it… and decided against it. Nobody wants a push-over reviewer! That is why the world spins my friends! Amanda and I deliver the blows, while beautiful people like Wendy Owens soften them!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Wendy.
Please welcome her in the comments below.
What inspired you to write about teenage suicide?
I wish the inspiration on the subject had come from any other place than it did. A local family we know suffered the loss of their child last year to teen suicide. With three children of my own my heart grew beyond heavy and I couldn’t shake the sadness. While Wash Me Away is in no way related to actual events, it was a way for me to process the events.
What place in fiction does social awareness have with issues like this one?
I believe there is a responsibility in the fiction community to shed a light on many of the issues faced in this book. We go back in history and can see literature can shift an entire generation and inspire change. In addition to changing the hearts and minds of the masses it can also be an escape, a life line to others facing similar issues to know they are not alone. The New School for Social Research in New York recently came out with a study thats results showed reading fiction improved empathy. Can this ever be a bad thing?
Do you think it’s more effective to explore these things in fiction, than non-fiction?
I think the two are completely different. Non-fiction is a resource. A place for people to go and learn about and perhaps even begin down the road of healing or recovery. Fiction however plays a different role. It’s a way for us to relate on a more emotional level. It’s a way not only for victims to not feel isolated but also to help others understand the emotional havoc these social issues can cause.
Do you think more writer’s should tackle the nitty-gritty subjects?
I think this is an authors personal choice and there should never be pressure to write something they aren’t feeling. However, if the subject is weighing on an authors mind, I don’t think they should shy away from it.
You also touch a bit on the harsh reality of sexual abuse… do you plan on expanding on that subject in another book?
I don’t have any immediate plans for a book on the subject matter. I have considered a sequel to WMA that focuses on Julia and in it we would get to see Addy begin to open up. However, I have a lot of books I’m currently working on and can’t even think about adding another to the line up.
Why did you decide to include sexual abuse on top of the already grave issue of suicide?
Often suicidal thoughts are linked to trigger. Self-esteem, depression, family issues, and even sexual abuse. It could have been one of any. Considering 1 in 5 girls are a victim of child sexual abuse it felt like a relatable issues for a large number of readers. I am sure most women have either been a victim of sexual abuse or know someone who has been.
Do you think author’s that write about fragile issues such as this one have a responsibility to post help hotlines and such correlating, with subject?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but as for me, I was inspired to write this story to give a glimmer of hope to maybe someone that didn’t have any. If I give them the will to hold on one more day, but not give them the tools to try and move forward I would be doing them a disservice. That being said, every story is different and an author needs to make choices based on their story.
Do you have any advice for writers who want to tackle social issues?
Talk to people, read blogs, understand the pain you’re writing about in a deeper way. If you don’t readers will see right through it.
Wow! I’m just blown away by her answers. I am super impressed with this author and we are privileged to have her for our first, First Friday Feature.
Thank You Wendy Owens!
About the Author –
Wendy Owens is a writer, born in the small college town, Oxford Ohio. After attending Miami University, Wendy went onto a career in the visual arts. After several years of creating and selling her own artwork she gave her first love, writing, a try. It’s become a passion ever since. Wendy now happily spends her days writing the stories her characters guide her to tell, admitting even she doesn’t always know where that might lead. Her first series, The Guardians, is a YA fantasy series about angel and human hybrids.
Since then she has branched into NA Contemporary Romance and released titles to include Stubborn Love, Only In Dreams, and Do Anything. Her next romance, The Luckiest is scheduled to be released in July 2014.
When she’s not writing, this dog lover can be found spending time with her tech geek husband, their three amazing kids, and two pups. She loves to cook and is a film fanatic.
Contact Her! She is a super approachable author! Something we appreciate very much at Writing Pearls.