As a kid, my mouth seemed to house only sweet-teeth. I’d eat sugar cubes by the handful, given the chance, and once trick-or-treated in the heat of July (dress up plus free candy: a total sweet-o-holic win-win). Years later, when disordered eating set in, sweets became the bad boyfriend I had to resist, or face punishment. It’s a beautiful thing to be past all of that, particularly since it’s allowed me to recognize and pursue my writing dreams.
In his book How to Write a Damn Good Thriller, James Frey describes concern over social injustice as the reason authors write certain thrillers, such as Blood Diamond, Dr. Stangelove, Serpico and The Constant Gardener. The authors feel compelled to shed light on and perhaps help correct these injustices, he says, thereby improving the world. I certainly relate to that motivation, and in my own meager way, that’s one of the things I’ve tried to do with In Her Shadow: shed some light into what eating disorders feel like from the inside. From understanding stems growth.
Since my e-book release last month, there have been exhilarating highs and proverbial dips. One day after I received praise from Kirkus Reviews, a reader called my novel unedited, and my use of the acronym E.D. “lazy” and mistakable for erectile dysfunction. (You can laugh. I have. ) Like all books, mine is not for everyone, nor is the rocky ride known as publishing. When our work resonates with readers, though, WOW. It’s a remarkable feeling that makes bumps seem bearable and sitting down to the empty page again and again a near given. (Every one of you who posts reviews for books you enjoy, give yourself a big ol’ hug!)
I thought about sharing the worst and best reviews today, but Mr./Mrs. Erectile Dysfunction included spoilers. Instead I’ll share two of the most touching:
I was breathless from the first word I read!, January 28, 2013
This book touched my heart before I even turned the first page.
Ms. McLaughlin’s writing is elegant, gentle, subtle, and drew me into her story by the heart, stirring concern and compassion for her exquisitely vulnerable characters. She writes about pain without assault or brutality. Whereas the stories of many authors leave one feeling bruised and hurting, August evokes caring, tenderness and a deep empathy.
Of special note is the sensitivity with which she dealt with the dynamic of an eating disorder, bringing me into the experience in such a vulnerable way that I was allowed to live it, sharing the anguish of it, not just looking at it and “understanding” as an observer. This is not only incredible writing, but a gift to those who struggle with eating disorders, unable to find the words to describe their torment to a culture that cannot comprehend the “illogic” of their behavior. — Psychologist/Author, Jan Harrell
The other came via email from a woman who’s struggling with bulimia. With her permission, here is an excerpt:
I’ve read lots of books about eating disorders, but this is the first time I was like, “Yes. The author gets its.” I gave it to my boyfriend to read. I think it’s helping him understand it, and me… Thanks for writing In Her Shadow. It gave me strength. I also had fun reading it, which is saying a lot. (It must be good to distract me from my freaking disease. ) I hope you always keep writing. — J.
And here is the brand-spankin’ new back cover, by the ever-fabulous Steena Holmes:
In celebration of my paperback release and in honor of J. and her courageous battle, I’ve decided to offer a fun little giveaway. To qualify, follow these two steps:
2. Email me your purchase confirmation (august at augustmclaughlin dot com) and where you’d like your LOVE YOUR BODY affirmation magnet sent. Yep! Everyone who orders within the first two days can claim one.
Thanks so much for the continual support, all. It means more to me than healthy or sugary sweets ever could.
What’s your main writing motivation? Any funny/horrible or rave reviews of your work you’re up for sharing? What feedback or compliment has taken you by surprise?