Guest post: Alice Kuipers

3 Aug

If you’ve read  Alice Kuipers’  Life on the Refrigerator Door or her latest  book, The Worst Thing She Ever Did , then you know she is not an author who shies away from difficult subject matter. I am always curious about not only why an author chooses to write about a topic that is both emotionally charged and at times difficult to read about, but how they go about getting the words down on paper. I’m very happy that I got a change to ask Alice exactly that as part of her blog tour for The Worst Thing She Ever Did.

Hi Colleen,

It’s good to be guest blogging for your site today.  Thanks!  I’ve been admiring your book purging – something I should be doing, perhaps – and reading your flash fiction, all of which has been distracting me from blogging on the topic of why (and how) I write about difficult and topical subjects.  It’s a hard topic but it’s time to stop procrastinating.  Time for me to ask myself the same thing and figure out why I do chose such difficult subjects to write about.

As a writer, I’m interested in characters in their teens.  I think the decisions people make and the things people do then define the adults they become.  I like to put teenage characters into situations that are extremely challenging and see how they react.

For example, Claire in Life on the Refrigerator Door is coping with her mother getting breast cancer.  She could handle it many different ways.  The way she deals with this will impact her not just in the pages of the book but for the rest of her life.  I find that fascinating.

I chose the topics based on the story I want to tell.  So, Claire’s story is about running out of time.  Sophie’s story, in The Worst Thing She Ever Did, is about using writing to explain the world.  Breast cancer and the London bombings were, and are, background to the emotional growth of the two characters.  But as topics they both took over my life for a while.  I had to do lots of research and I learnt things that were hard to understand sometimes.  I got pretty weepy writing both books, which always makes me feel like I’m crazy (sobbing in my office!)  But I suppose writing about difficult things helps me better understand a crazy world.  And maybe it helps me understand myself better too.

As for how I do it, well, I research lots both before and during the writing process.  I talk to people who have gone through similar situations, I read books by survivors, I watch films and look over newspaper articles.  At one point, I have to let go of the research and trust that I know enough to get the right tone.  Sometimes I’m able to get the words down.  Sometimes I have to do more research because a bit of information is missing.

I hope that gives you an idea of how and why I write the things I do.  Time for me to go and purge some books…

Thank  you so much for stopping by, Alice! Oh, you guys should really check out her website. Not only can you find out more about Alice and her books, but she also gives great writing tips and challenges to get your creative juices flowing.

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