Emily Murdock and her debut novel, If You Find Me, has caught the attention of book lovers and Young adult enthusiasts. Our blog was given the chance to read the novel before it hit the shelves, and both of us here at Great Imaginations were blown away by the emotion that was put into the writing and the strength of the characters in the book.
Murdock shared with us her thoughts on her characters, and showed us a glimpse of the heart of her protagonist, Carey. Emily has been asked often why she chose to make Carey a pretty girl and she tries to answer that question and more in the guest post we were given.
Thank you to Wendy Darling, Tonya, and K at The Midnight Garden for hosting this tour and asking us to be a part of it.
There are some things you can’t leave behind…
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.
Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
Guest Post by Emily Murdoch
Conversations With Carey
Author’s Note: I’d remarked in one of If You Find Me’s blog tour Q&As, that I used to smile inside when writers talked about how their characters “talked” to them. Not in the sense of making fun, because I believe in the “free to be you and me” philosophy of life, and in that, living a life free from judgmental attitudes as much as humanly possible.
But, I admit it: I smiled. That is, until I was writing If You Find Me and that very thing happened to me: Carey popping up out of nowhere, far from the computer keyboard, to conduct full-on conversations inside my head. (It became even more real when, in the midst of listening to her, I didn’t pay attention and, with an arm full of hay for our horses, backed into a prickly pear cactus. Yeah — ouch. (As a writer, I have to sit on that thing!)
After that, I began writing our conversations down.
Carey: You made me beautiful.
Carey:But you’re a writer. Isn’t that a trope? I don’t want to be a trope.
Me: (Concealing a smile) A trope? How do you know what a trope is?
Carey: Don’t you? (Ducks her head.)You’re the writer.
Me: Of course I know. But how do you?
Carey: I reckon because people talk about tropes in Goodreads reviews.
Carey: Sure I do. I love to read. You know that. Melissa lets me use her laptop.
Me: Oh, right. You’re not in the woods anymore.
Carey: So … am I a trope?
Me: No, of course not. Some things exist for writerly or plot or symbolic purposes, and if it feels right, a writer goes with it, even if people might call it a trope.
Carey:(Large eyes brimming.) But it didn’t work, though.
Carey: I feel ugly, sometimes. I don’t feel pretty. I reckon … oh, forget it.
Carey: I don’t know! People out here think it’s a big thing. Like it’s special. I thought it would make me special. More than a backwoods freak.
Me: You’re not a backwoods freak. And what’s on the outside isn’t what makes you special. It’s what’s on the inside. That’s the truth.
Carey: I thought being pretty would make me more. Worth more. Especially after all that stuff in the woods.
Her tears fall fast and furious, while my own eyes well.
Carey:(Shakes her head, overcome with emotion.)
Me: That’s okay. But you need to know you aren’t what happened in the woods, sweetie. And you’ll never be how you look. That’s the first thing.
Carey: (Wiping tears away roughly.) Actually, that’s two things.
Me: (Smiling.) You’re just too smart for your own good. Yes, that’s two things. And the third one is, it’s hollow, in the land where beauty is currency. I mean, think of Mother Teresa.
Me: She was sort of a saint.
Carey: I know saints. They starved a lot, like Ness and me. I know St. Joseph, too. But who is Mother Teresa?
Me: (Hands her a tissue. Waits while she blows her nose in a goose honk.) Mother Teresa was a woman, a nun, who helped the poverty-stricken people in the ghettos of India.
Carey:There’s a girl in my class named India.
Me: (Hiding a smile.) In this case, I mean India the country.
Me: Imagine if Mother Teresa had said, “Oh, I can’t tend to the sick and dying because I’m not beautiful enough! Because my hair isn’t perfect enough! Oh! How can I go outside! I have a pimple on my nose!”
Carey: (Face lights up.) That’s funny. I reckon I see what you’re saying. But that’s what matters to people out here. I didn’t even know how I looked until I came to my dad’s farm. It’s all you see on television — girls who are Hundred Acre Woods-skinny, with big, um —
Me: Yeah. Big ums. Which are just body parts, by the way. You’re worth more than your flesh. And you’re smarter than that, thank God. You have this lucky new life to live, to learn and grow and love inside of it. What’s inside is what sticks around.
Carey:That’s what people see about me, though. They stare at me like I’m more, somehow, because of it.
Me: Well, what do you think?
Carey: I reckon I see the same me. The old me who didn’t know. I think to myself, when they stare, would you want to trade places? Be starving skinny and look like me, if it meant you had to have my old life, too?
Carey: I think no. No, they wouldn’t.
Me: Well, maybe they wouldn’t want your old life. But I think many people wouldn’t mind being you, in the sense of being strong and brave and so good with Nessa. And, as you are finding out, it doesn’t matter what someone looks like on the outside, if they feel ugly on the inside.
Carey: (Looking up at me through her eyelashes.) So you made me beautiful in an anti-beauty way? In a photonegative way, because it doesn’t matter when you feel ugly inside?
Me: You’re a smart cookie, kiddo. Looks aren’t everything. They didn’t save you. They didn’t give you an instantly terrific life. But look beyond it, too — it doesn’t matter in general. What’s inside is what counts. It may sound corny or cliché, but it really is the truth. And you have the power to allow or dismiss the messages society sends young girls. You have the power to be more than that. So much more.
Me: Hey – how do you know about photonegatives, anyway?
Carey: From Ryan. He takes photographs, remember? The one with my violin?
Carey: (Smiling shyly.) Me too.
Me: I dare say you’re blushing, Carey Violet Benskin.
Carey waves me away, her grin as wide as the Obed river. As it should be.
About the Author:
Emily is a writer, a poet, and a lover of books. There’s never a time she’s without a book. Her debut novel, If You Find Me, will be available from St. Martin’s on March 26, 2013 and from Orion/Indigo UK on May 2, 2013.
When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her caring for her horses, dogs and family on a ranch in rural Arizona, where the desert’s tranquil beauty and rich wildlife often enter into her poetry and writing.
I have one finished hardback graciously given by St. Martin’s Press for giveaway to US/CA addresses.
Giveaway ends April 11th at midnight.
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If You Find Me Tour Stops: