I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome Marie Landry to the blog today! Marie is an author, and she is going to tell you about her writing process and how much of herself she puts into her own characters in this post. She will also give you a couple of book recommendations for YA/NA books discussing mental health. Make sure to check out Waiting for the Storm and Marie’s other books. I’ll let Marie take over from here.
When I started writing my YA book Waiting for the Storm five years ago, I didn’t intend for it to be about a girl with anxiety. Initially it was about a girl, Charlotte, who had finished high school at home while taking care of her terminally ill mother. After being shut away for almost a year, she had become anxious and jumpy, afraid of things that never bothered her before, and unable to cope with her emotions. As I continued writing and Charlotte became more fully formed in my mind, her actions – things like jumping to conclusions and overreacting – seemed familiar.
From the beginning, I knew Charlotte would be the character I put the most of myself into. We have the same interests (like reading, book blogging, and a love of certain TV shows), and many of the same personality traits. I didn’t realize at first I was putting something else of myself into her: my anxiety. But that was exactly what I was doing, and even though I knew some people wouldn’t understand some of Charlotte’s actions, they made sense to me, and would likely make sense to other people who battle with anxiety and depression. As Charlotte realized her dad’s depression was more than ‘situational’ depression over losing his wife, she had to face the fact her own behavior was more than just grief, and it was time to seek professional help, even though it was scary.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen more and more discussions about the importance of seeing yourself in books, especially when you’re part of a minority. For many people, books are their world. They’re a touchstone that keeps us sane, keeps us grounded, lets us know we’re not alone. For those people, it can be crucial to see characters similar to themselves, going through similar struggles, dealing with similar issues. A teenager (or adult) might read a book about a character with anxiety and think ‘This is how I’ve been acting. Maybe there’s not really something ‘wrong’ with me, and I can get help’. They can read books where characters are seeking help, going to therapy, taking medication, learning coping mechanisms, leaning on friends, learning to talk openly about their struggles, and any number of other things, and realize there’s no shame in any of it, and there’s also no need to suffer in silence.
The more we see these types of characters in books and the more we talk about mental health, we’re working to shatter the stigmas surrounding mental illness. The more we stress the fact it’s not okay to refer to someone as ‘bipolar’ if they’re moody or say ‘I’m OCD’ because they’re super organized or particular about things, the easier it gets to be open and honest about mental health.
If you’re looking for a YA book about a girl with anxiety written by a girl with anxiety, I hope you’ll check out Waiting for the Storm. I also have a few other recommendations for books (4 Young Adult, 1 New Adult) with mental health representation.
The Upside of Unrequited
by Becky Albertalli – Anxiety
Eliza and Her Monsters
by Francesca Zappia – Anxiety and depression
Girl Against the Universe
by Paula Stokes – PTSD
The Best Possible Answer
by E Katherine Kottaras – Anxiety
London Belongs to Me
by Jacquelyn Middleton – Anxiety and panic attacks
Marie Landry’s life revolves around books; when she’s not writing them, she’s reading them, taking pictures of them for bookstagram, or blogging about them. An avid reader from a young age, she loves getting lost in characters’ worlds, whether they’re of her own making or someone else’s. She particularly loves coming-of-age stories with as much of an emphasis on self-discovery as on romance…but don’t leave out the romance!
When not doing bookish things, Marie can be found daydreaming (in general, but often about travelling through Europe), binge-watching shows on Netflix, and taking photographs. She lives in a cozy apartment in Ontario, Canada with the best roommate ever, and only sometimes imagines it’s actually a flat in London.
Where to find Marie
Marie loves to chat, especially with fellow book lovers. Here’s where you can find her:
Blog: Ramblings of a Daydreamer
Instagram: SweetMarie_83 (bookish pics) or Rambling_Daydreamer (non-bookish pics)
Facebook: Marie Landry, Author
Where to find Waiting for the Storm
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, Marie! Show Marie some love in the comments. If you’re a writer, how much of yourself do you put into your characters? If you’re a reader, do you have any more recommendations for books with good mental health rep?