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About the Book
Everything’s Not Fine
by Sarah J. Carlson
Publisher: Turner Publishing
Release Date: May 26, 2020
As Rose fights to hold everything together, and her dreams of the future start to slip from her grasp, she must face the question of what happens when – if – her mom comes home again. And if, deep down, if Rose even wants her to.
- How much of your professional life as a school counselor went into the story of Everything’s Not Fine?
(I’m actually a school psychologist, but we’re often confused 😉 ) In my professional life as a school psychologist, the biggest struggles I see kids facing are things beyond their control wreaking havoc on their lives. Parents struggling with substance use issues is a very common adverse childhood experience. I wanted to write a book exploring a teen finding her resilience in the aftermath of a traumatic experience beyond her control.
- Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you come into it later?
I’ve loved writing since I first picked up a pencil. I remember how powerful and exciting it was in fourth grade to be chosen to represent my school at a writing competition, and to see my short story “published” in a bound book with other stories. From there, I went on to write what we’ll can Stephen King fan fiction on hundreds of pieces of loose-leaf paper before we had a computer, then lots of other novels after that. Writing has always been a hobby, an escape, for me, even during college when I was studying psychology. I don’t think my brain could NOT create stories. It’s still so unreal—and amazing—that my stories are now out in the world and people I’ll never meet have read them.
- How was your writing experience different from your debut All the Walls of Belfast? Did you find it easier or harder to write another book?
I actually wrote both of them simultaneously. I started them while living in Singapore; honestly, one of the catalysts for setting Everything’s Not Fine in my hometown was a bit of homesickness. All the Walls of Belfast is set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and took years of research into history, current events, dialect, culture, and setting. Obviously, I didn’t need to do all that for Everything’s Not Fine, but I wanted to treat my second book with the same lens, to capture small-town Wisconsin’s culture and dialect. I enjoyed taking trips to Sparta to research specific elements of setting. All the Walls of Belfast took a lot more research, but capturing the emotional landscape of Everything’s Not Fine took more crafting.
- Everything’s Not Fine tackles substance abuse, what kind of research did you do while writing it and what drew you to writing about such an important topic?
For Everything’s Not Fine, as the story was evolving, I interviewed police officers, lawyers, and social workers, and also did research on addiction and recovery. I read stories of families ravaged by addiction. I also hired an authenticity reader whose parent struggled with heroin addiction. This reader offered tough feedback and help guide me to the story that was mine to tell.
I was drawn to write about it because, as a school psychologist, I’ve worked with children and teens whose parents struggle with addiction, and I’ve seen how it ravages their lives, even as one or both parents are fighting to try and keep it all together. Everything’s Not Fine is not based on the story of any child I worked with, even in the slightest, but I wanted to capture what it’s like, the shame and guilt and anger and fear and love that comes with being stuck on the sidelines watching your parent do the things they’re supposed to tell you not to do. And, most importantly, I wanted to show a teen fighting to find her own resilience, focus on what she can control, and find the people who can help her carry the emotional burden. I wanted to show a teen discovering the power of starting to define her own life narrative in the face of things she can’t control. Those messages, I hope, can help teens coping with stress, even if their struggles are different from Rose’s.
- What are you currently working on?
Nothing official, but I’m playing around with something set in the biggest tourist trap in Wisconsin. I’m drawn to setting 😊
About the Author
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