Today, we have the pleasure of being the very first stop in Alice Kuiper’s Blog Tour! She’s the author of the award-winning and bestselling novel, Life on the Refrigerator Door, and her newest book, The Worst Thing She Ever Did. The thing that was the most compelling in her newest novel was the mother-daughter relationship; it is complex, and certainly not perfect. The characters are flawed, and can be at times weak – but ultimately, they grow and find strength. So, we asked Alice if she could talk about the process of creating the complex and dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship that both her books involve.
Take it away, Alice!
I’ve been reading Let the Words Flow and I think you’ve got a great site, full of useful information for emerging and published writers. You’ve asked me to write a blog entry about how I create the complex and dysfunctional relationship between mothers and daughters in my two books – Life on the Refrigerator Door and The Worst Thing She Ever Did. I think the best way I can answer this is to talk about character.
A while ago, when I was writing, I realized that although my characters had to be themselves all the way through a manuscript, it didn’t mean that they couldn’t be contrary and difficult and sometimes even horrible. I know, it seems obvious, but it took me a while to really get this. I love my characters so when I gave them more flaws writing about them became a lot more challenging. And interesting. And real. In Life on the Refrigerator Door, Claire and her mom, Elizabeth, felt very real to me as they fought, made up, loved each other and hated each other. In the opening of The Worst Thing… Sophie’s mum is suffering terribly, just as is Sophie. Both of them are barely able to hold it together – without sounding cruel, this dynamic was fantastic to write about. And emotional too. Because I haven’t been able to write about mothers and daughters without thinking about my own relationship with my mother. It was, and is, a complicated, loving, essential relationship, and so when I’m writing I use that to ground me and keep my fiction feeling true.
Practically speaking, when I write about characters, I need and want them to act and react to the events of the plot. As they do that, I feel like the story is created. Everything evolves from their interactions with each other and with plot events. I keep this in mind when I’m writing – if I get slowed down, I make my characters do something. Fight or try to talk. Or both. (An editor told me to do this and it’s superb advice!) When your characters (or my characters) have to do something, you get to see who they really are.
I’m gratified when readers feel that the relationships between mothers and daughters in my books feel true. They feel true for me, too.
Thanks, I hope this gives you a practical (useful?!) insight into how I write – I have lots of thoughts about writing and tips on my website: www.alicekuipers.com
Thanks so much Alice!
Now, since we love to share, we’re giving away a copy of The Worst Thing She Ever Did! Sound awesome? Well, click here to browse inside and read some of the chapters!
But first, here’s a description from Goodreads:
“My New Year’s resolution: I’m moving on from everything that’s happened. I’m not going to talk about it, think about it, let the memory pounce upon me like a waiting tiger, nothing.”
All Sophie wants to do is forget. But it’s not easy now that everything’s changed. The house feels too big, school drags on for too long, lights are too bright, the room spins, and her hands get sweaty for no reason. And she can’t remember why she was ever best friends with Abigail, who is obsessed with parties and boys. Only the new girl, Rosa-Leigh, with her prose poems and utter confidence, might understand. But talking to her seems impossible.
Lost in memories of the life she once had, Sophie retreats into herself. But there’s only so long she can keep everything bottled up inside before she explodes. Maybe by confronting the tragedy of her past she’ll figure out how to fix her future.
All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment and respond/offer your thoughts in regards to Alice’s post, and/or your experience with creating dysfunctional relationships.
For +1 extra entry, follow Alice Kuipers on Twitter (and let us know if you have!)
Don’t forget about adding your email so that we can contact you! This contest is open to US and Canadian residents only (sorry!).
The contest ends at noon EST on Saturday, August 28th. The winner will be picked using random.org, and will be announced on Sunday, August 29th.
Alice Kuipers is the award-winning author of Life on the Refrigerator Door and The Worst Thing She Ever Did. She was born in London, but has since moved to Saskatoon, Canada, where she now lives. Her hobbies include belly dancing, playing Ultimate Frisbee, teaching Pilates, cooking, and – of course -reading. You can follow her on Twitter, or check out her Website, which is chock-full of writing tips!