Hi everyone! As you may remember, a little while ago I reviewed a book entitled Believe Like a Child by Paige Dearth (review link is here). Paige has graciously agreed to an interview about the book and being an author in general. At the end of the interview she’s provided information about her upcoming work, When Smiles Fade, which comes out in February. Be sure to look out for it!
Again, many thanks to Paige for participating in the interview. Here it is:
What made you decide to write this work in the first place? Did you originally set out to write a character like Alessa?
The reason behind writing Believe Like A Child was my desire for people to understand the darkness children are forced to live when they are being sexually abused. It’s difficult for anyone to imagine that an adult can do such horrible things to children. But they do and it happens more than we care to believe. I wrote this book as fiction so that I could weave a story of real-life and make-believe in an effort to convey an important message while entertaining readers.
Before I put a single word on paper I knew how I wanted to portray Alessa. She was after all, the most important character to me. Alessa, like so many abused children possessed an inner strength that just needed some encouragement to help her reach her potential. I worked hard on Alessa to strike the right balance in making her a victim and a survivor. Years before I actually wrote this novel, I envisioned Alessa exactly how I depicted her. The response from readers about Alessa has been heartwarming for me.
Throughout the book there are many moments of despair that Alessa faces, yet there are also occasional moments of hope. Were Alessa’s experiences (good and bad) modeled after your own?
The first part of the novel, at the point where Alessa runs away from her home, were based on my own experiences. For the remainder of the story, I took the feelings that I had experienced throughout my life and created situations for the protagonist that would evoke those same emotions in my readers. So, you could say that I backed into the scenes of despair and hope based on the emotional response that I wanted to get across. I should also mention that Ebby, Lucy and Remo are exaggerated versions of real people who saved me from what could have been a horrible fate. Today, the three of them remain as pillars of strength in my life.
Besides Alessa, who did you think was the most interesting character to write?
The cameo appearance by Denise, the Rope Bully, was especially interesting for me. As children and adults, there are people who come into our lives that prejudge us. Denise believed that Alessa’s life was perfect because she didn’t show her miserable existence outwardly. There is a character like Denise in just about everyone’s life. Some of us knew him/her as a kid and some of us knew him/her from the workplace when we became adults. Denise was so busy trying to establish her status and importance, making herself feel powerful, that she alienated everyone and had no one who really cared about her. People associated with her out of fear rather than respect, which says little for the character of that person. Denise represented the intolerance and lack of self-awareness that is needed to embrace humanity and is a character that most of us knew at one time or another.
How did you decide to end the book in the way you did? Was it because you wanted to convey a sense of realism as to how the stories of many people like Alessa end?
The ending of the book was purely cathartic for me. Alessa’s actions were based on her emotions that she no longer had control over. She finally reached her limit and did the only thing she could do to fight the demons that had been such a significant part of her life.
What’s your favorite part about writing?
When I’m writing my stories and they begin to play like a movie in my head, but one where I can make happen what I desire. When I write, all time stands still and I get to live moments of heartache and joy as the scenes unfold. There were times when I was writing Believe Like A Child and I was laughing out loud or typing the words through gut wrenching sobs. There is no greater joy than being submerged in a sea of words and stringing them together to create a story that gives rise to a deep emotional connection in readers.
What made you decide to become a writer? Are you inspired by any other authors?
Even at a young age I kept a journal. Honestly, I love to write…it doesn’t matter if it’s a grocery list, addressing cards or developing a novel. Writing feels natural to me. I really believe that I have stories in me that people will want to read. I love to keep readers on the edge of their seat and wanting to know what will happen next. When a reader tells me how much they loved my book I feel as though I’ve shared a piece of myself with them.
I’m inspired by several authors…the first book I ever read, A Woman Of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, is my favorite book of all time. Maybe it’s because it was the first novel I had read but, I think it’s more likely because the protagonist of the story was able to rise above her dismal circumstances and humble beginnings.
Another author that deserves a huge shout out is James Patterson. Having read many of his novels I think he is clever and engaging. In an interview with the New York Times, on January 20, 2010, Patterson said something that resonated with me: “If you want to write for yourself, get a diary. If you want to write for a few friends, get a blog. But if you want to write for a lot of people, think about them a little bit. What do they like? What are their needs? A lot of people in this country go through their days numb. They need to be entertained. They need to feel something.”
I agree with James Patterson and am inspired to make people “feel” something when they read my novels.
Do you have any new works planned for the future?
Definitely! My second novel, When Smiles Fade, will be released in early February 2013. This novel is about a young girl named Emma who was unloved from the moment she was born. Her earliest memory is being severely beaten by her father, Pepper Murphy, when she was eight-years-old.
Emma’s father’s cold-blooded beatings and the ultimate abuse to which he subjects her, lays the foundation of the person she becomes. As she matures into a resourceful teenager, she is unwilling and unable to stifle her desire for revenge.
In addition to my second book, I have just finished the outline of my third novel. I have a book title in mind, but it’s still too early to know for sure. My third book is about a young child who is kidnapped from a mall and forced into human trafficking…that’s all I can share…for now…
Please check out my website at www.paigedearth.com to read the beginnings of Believe Like A Child and When Smiles Fade.