I think it’s needless for me to say that being a writer also makes me a lover of books. As a child, I was swung into alternate realities — envisioning characters and the worlds that they lived in. From the likes of Roald Dahl and his disturbing witches and giants to books where I traveled across the seas to countries I never thought I’d have a chance to go to. I always believed that my joy came from this sense of escapism from my own reality, but I’ve come to learn quite the opposite to be true.
Although a distorted reality can be fun to play inside of, the bigger picture and the lessons of fictional narratives have always compelled me to have deeper discussions, even when they were just living in the confines of my own mind.
Fiction never let me flee too far away from reality, even when it appeared to be so. I think that this whole time, I’ve been unknowingly steering closer and closer towards it.
The premise of fiction is that it’s really just a bundle of lies that unravel quite a lot of truth, which is something I never really understood until I started crafting my own novels.
I was known as the child who always lived in her own world, and through the years, I’ve never really grown out of it. Characters come to me and tell me their lives, slowly but surely, and often at their own pace. Writing a novel is parallel to uncovering another universe. The rules are not always the same as they are on Earth, but the people are typically just as human.
When I first started to write down these worlds and the lives of the characters that showed up and trusted me with them, I thought I was just a silent observer. Perhaps even a noteworthy friend, alien to them but somehow able to connect. A field researcher, here to take notes, listen and then bring all my findings back to where I live. The sensation is much like floating in a cloud and then finding a way to let the soil feel its moisture.
I live in these worlds, these alternate dimensions and distorted realities, and I live in them so deeply that I can feel everything that they are feeling. I can see every brick wall or sidewalk. I can glide through the streets and say that I know those neighbours far better than I know my own. I admit that I often prefer these worlds to the one that I am conscious in.
I guess over the years, with writing books for the joy that it brings me to craft them, I’ve learned far more about myself than I ever would have if I didn’t. I think what happened is that when I walked inside of a fictional world, I felt safe. Suddenly I could live and breathe through each and every single part of myself that I couldn’t always bring to light in my everyday life.
I tell myself that these characters are not me, so I write them freely as they are and then suddenly, when I’m done the work, I find that is never the case. The truth is, when you’re writing fiction, you think you’re not writing about you and so that is exactly what you end up doing. It’s this freedom that finally lets you be a villain and flawed and insecure and uncertain, and everything else that you bury inside yourself because if the world found out, what would they make of you?
Reading and writing fiction tricks you into believing that you are floating. That you are so far away from yourself and the world you live in. But the magic of it is that it only ever unravels the person you always were. It allows you to question belief systems, to understand the internal anxieties that live among us all, and to dream things into existence that you never thought were possible.
I love a memoir, a personal essay, or a deep dive into psychology and mental health. I love me a good self-help book and a true-crime escapade. But my heart has always found this string within fiction and what it has allowed me to make of my life by living in worlds outside of it.
I hope to continue making and living in those worlds and one day bring you all inside of them so you can see for yourself the magic that lies within.