An Inside Look - With Claire Legrand
Author of Some Kind of Happiness
*Another summer Monday, means another "inside look" with an author.
*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" with them about their novel, the characters, and their thoughts about the story.
*I have had such fun connecting with authors and "picking" their brains.
*Here are the links to my first eight interviews...
*I recently visited Anderson's Book Shop in Naperville. It was such a wondering visit!
*After chatting with one of the book sellers, I bought this novel based on her recommendation.
*Once I started reading, I could not stop. This was such a wonderful and beautiful story.
*As soon as I finished reading, I reached out to Claire to share my reading experience.
*She was gracious to say yes to an interview about her book and her character.
*I so enjoyed reading her responses and am equally excited to share them here with you.
Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (Released May 17, 2016)
How did you come to know Finley?
I met Finley in 2014. For a long time I'd wanted to write about the childhood days I spent playing behind my grandparents' house with my cousins. And in 2014 I decided I wanted to write about a girl with depression and anxiety. I have those disorders, and I wish I had had a book about them when I was growing up. Slowly those two ideas came together. One day I didn't know Finley; the next day she was sitting quietly beside me, her battered, well-loved notebook in hand. I knew Finley felt like she should be happy, but she wasn't. I knew she loved playing in the woods behind her grandparents' house. And I knew that I had to tell her story.
What do you think is Finley's most admirable quality?
Finley is so patient--far more patient than I am. Some of the other characters treat her unkindly, whether deliberately or not, and she doesn't lose her temper or write them out of her life. She still loves them and is fiercely loyal.
Is there anything you wish Finley would have changed or done differently in her story?
Finley's patience has a dark side; she suffers in silence for far longer than she needs to. It's almost like she's waiting for her friends and family members to figure out how to treat her right at their own pace, which is generous of her. Much more generous than I would be! But there were times while writing when I wished she had communicated more directly with the people around her. Then again, she's eleven years old. She needed to work through her emotions--and determine when she felt comfortable confessing them to others--on her own.
What do you think Finley can offer to other children who are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
I hope that children reading Finley's story realize, like Finley does, that it's okay to ask for help, even if it's scary or embarrassing. It's also okay to need your privacy and work through difficult feelings on your own. But at some point you'll probably need to lean on someone else, and that's okay. It's even brave.
How did you research Finley and the circumstances she found herself in?
Since I suffer from depression and anxiety just like Finley does, I was able to draw upon my own experiences when writing Finley's story. I did a little bit of research regarding the circumstances of a secondary character (I'm avoiding spoilers here), but other than that, I was essentially writing my own story, my own experiences with therapy, my own struggles with asking for help and feeling embarrassed that sometimes I'm not okay.
Do you and Finley share any similarities?
Besides the obvious similarity--in that we both have mental illness--Finley and I are alike in other ways. We're both introverted and observant, we're both writers, and we're both very close to our families.
What was the hardest scene to write about Finley?
It's hard to answer this question without spoiling anything, but I'll try! There is a scene toward the end of the book where someone close to Finley does something very hurtful and scary. They think they're helping Finley, but they're really not. The scene ends with Finley exhausted and in tears while the other person hugs her. I hated hurting Finley like that, and I was so mad at the other character for trying to help Finley in the utterly wrong way, with no regard for her feelings. Every time I worked on that scene I felt as exhausted as Finley by the end of it.
Who do you think was Finley's biggest supporter and why?
Finley has three big supporters. One is Gretchen, the first cousin Finley befriends at her grandparents' house. Gretchen is her partner in crime, her co-adventurer, the knight to Finley's queen. They're the first to explore the Everwood, the first to discover the Bone House. But Finley has two other supporters that, at the beginning of the story, she would never have expected.
Why do you think children and/or young people are so afraid to share that they are suffering with depression, anxiety, or panic attacks?
It's scary and embarrassing to feel those painful emotions and experience something as intense as a panic attack--especially when you don't know what they are. And when no one else around you is talking about such things, then you start to think that you're the only one who feels that way. You feel strange. You feel like an outsider. Broken. And I think it's hard for anyone--kids or grown-ups--to admit feeling that way. You don't want to be excluded. You don't want others to be afraid of you or avoid you or talk about you behind your back.
There's also still a general stigma about mental illness in our culture, which makes people slow to admit when they have a problem. I hope that by writing Some Kind of Happiness, and by speaking openly about my own mental illness, I can chip away even a small piece of that stigma and make it easier for others with mental illness to ask for help.
What do you think Finley is doing as this present time?
Finley is now a teenager. She writes regularly to her cousins and to the friends she made during that pivotal summer when she was eleven years old. She likes writing letters by hand, in her notebook, because putting pen to paper feels magical to her, and it always will. I think she visits the Everwood--and her family--as much as she can. And I think she'll probably write stories about her adventures someday. I also think she will be in therapy for the rest of her life, and that she'll look forward to it, because she'll know that by going to therapy, she's taking good care of herself.