As I have said in my review (see later post) this is a really tough topic to write about and of course we all wonder how did the author come up with the storyline? Where did she learn all this? Well Dana is very open about this and below she tells us how the story originated with her family.
Writing Through The Pain
When people read my book, Burnt Edges, they have two reactions:
“Whoa, this is tough to read,” or, “How did you write about this without going into a depression?”
Writing about abuse is difficult—whether it is your own or someone else’s. In my case, the story is about my mother and the abuse she suffered as a child from both parents. And it’s the worst kind of abuse you can imagine: incest. Not to say that any other forms of abuse aren’t awful. Abuse is horrific. No matter what form it takes.
To answer the question how did I write about it without letting it drag me under is more difficult than I can articulate. It DID drag me under, and for most of my life. Writing about it was the final act of healing for me. As I wrote the more difficult scenes I had to take breaks. It was important to step away and clear my head. And I’m not done writing about it either. There is another book I’m working on now that follows the story from another perspective.
Since I did not experience the abuse, I had to understand it in order to make it real.
The way I made it authentic was by interviewing my mom. She was very open and willing to talk to me about the details. Because of this, I wasn’t afraid to ask questions that seemed awkward or difficult. The book became a way for me to understand my mother in a deeper way. And I learned a lot.
See, abuse doesn’t just affect the victim. It affects everyone the victim comes into contact for the rest of his or her life. It seeps into the crevices of the victims’ DNA and becomes a part of who they are and who they will be so when that person tries to form relationships, the abuse is there. That is the story I am telling about my mother’s life and my life.
I was lucky that my mom was so open to this process and wasn’t afraid of allowing me to tell her part of the story that inevitably weaved into mine. She still suffers from the effects of the abuse but has come a long way from where she used to be, we both have. I have gone from feeling responsible for saving her to resentful and angry to finally accepting who she is and how she deals with life.
Writing this story is difficult but it is the best thing I’ve ever done to help both me and my mom move on.
I’ve been hiding behind busy-ness. Do you ever do that? There is something nagging at you that you KNOW you need to address or do but you hide. You hide because you know it’s time to unpack the baggage again and you don’t want to do it.
I need to unpack some heavy baggage. I started to do it but then it got too intense so I stopped. Unpacking my baggage means finishing my second novel which delves deeper into the original story from my first novel Burnt Edges. The first one was hard to write but easier in terms of the baggage because it wasn’t my story. This next novel is my story and it means digging into emotional baggage.
This is going to be a painful process because I’ve stuffed the content way down a dark hole that’s been covered up by the denial of every day life. It’s so much easier to schedule things, check email, clean the house, or look busy. Riffling around the baggage only brings up memories linked to my sense of worth reminding me that I wasn’t enough to make a difference. Memories that remind me I’m a fraud, a fake, a poser. I play the parts that I think people want me to play so I can take the attention off my gaping wounds pulsing, aching to be healed. Yet that initial step of recognizing the wounds is just too intense. I’d rather slap on a plastic bandage and pretend that it will go away. It doesn’t. It just festers until I am forced to face it again.
Because I can’t come right out a say it, I must tell the story. Like Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” The agony has gotten too hard for me to handle any more so I will write it. I will finish it and let the pain wash over me praying for the moment of liberation that comes after the fire.
So we see how it is Dana’s way of working through her pain that gives her the story to write. Such honesty and truthful writing surely tells in the veracity that it must give to her books. Read and you shall learn.
Title: Burnt Edges
Author: Dana Leipold
Publication Date: June 2015
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Familiar abuse or an uncertain future? Which would you choose?
This is Laurel Lee Page’s dilemma when she is faced with an unplanned pregnancy at nineteen. Born into a broken family, guilt and shame are all she has ever known. No matter what she does or whom she meets, Laurel appears to be living a condemned life.
However, she is determined to find independence and freedom in spite of her family’s legacy of hatred and self-contempt.
Set in Southern California during the tumultuous 1960’s, Burnt Edges is a contemporary novel based on true events that prove strength can emerge in the most horrific of circumstances.
Leipold lives with her husband and two children in the San Francisco Bay Area.