I wanted to give people a story in which victims of abuse try to find hope and healing so that my readers can try to find the same hope and healing in their own lives, no matter what they’re going through. And my passion for this is what kept me going even through the tears.
Bri Marino – 25 September 2017
The Back Flap
Twelve-year-old Frankie used to go out to the clearing in the forest behind her house and sit by the beautiful linden tree in the middle of it. Frankie used to laugh and read and play there with her older sister Susan and their friends, sisters Lindsey and Miranda. She used to feel God there, and be happy with all of the good things in her life.
But that was before her mother killed herself. Before Lindsey stopped talking and Miranda started lying to them and dating around. It was before Susan stopped eating and put her romance novels in a moldy box in the attic. Before Frankie started acting out in class. And before her father started doing things to Frankie that’s nothing like what’s in those romance novels.
In this novel that explores emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, Frankie struggles to make sense of the violence in her life and struggles to get her friends to open up about their abuse so that they can try to once again find that place of peace in their lives. Somewhere Only We Know shows that despite the pain, silence, and scars of abuse, there is still hope, and a new story can be told.
About the book
What is the book about?
Somewhere Only We Know is a contemporary young adult novel about four young girls who experience different kinds of abuse coming together to try to find the hope and healing they’ve been looking for. The book handles topics like psychological trauma, abuse, rape, faith, and the power of writing.
When did you start writing the book?
I started writing the book in February, 2016. I had been sitting on the idea for a long time, but I got the kick I needed to actually start writing it after getting the chance to speak with one of my favorite authors—Kiera Cass—at a local bookstore. She inspired me to stay true to myself and write what I needed to write.
How long did it take you to write it?
The book only took me 3 months to write, and another month or so to edit. This book came to me faster than anything else I’ve written.
Where did you get the idea from?
The basic storyline of Somewhere Only We Know was rooted in a nightmare I had back in high school. I knew it would make a good story, but I didn’t know what to do with it yet. The idea sat in the back of my mind for years as I went on to college. While there, my eyes were opened to the prevalence of violence against women. I went on to minor in women’s studies and did a lot of research on rape and domestic violence. When I merged all I had learned with my nightmare, the story appeared to me.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
This was definitely a hard book to write. Many times I sat at my computer only to break down in tears at what Frankie, the narrator, was going through. At times I wanted to give up because the story made me so sad. But I had to remind myself why I was writing this. Abuse is an all-too-prevalent problem in our world, and many young girls just like Frankie experience it. I wanted to give people a story in which victims of abuse try to find hope and healing so that my readers can try to find the same hope and healing in their own lives, no matter what they’re going through. And my passion for this is what kept me going even through the tears.
Another area in which I struggled was in proofreading the book, but that was only because I tried to do something interesting with the book’s capitalization. When I first started writing the book, without even making the conscious decision to do it, I made all of Frankie’s pronouns lowercase and all of her father’s (her abuser’s) uppercase. When she refers to herself in lowercase pronouns, Frankie shows the readers how she feels powerless in her situation. And when she constantly refers to her father with uppercase pronouns, readers can feel just how big and scary he is to her. I love how the capitalization makes you read the book because it really allows you to get in Frankie’s head and see things from her perspective. However, my fingers got so used to typing the incorrect capitalization that the pronouns were incorrect throughout the book in other character’s dialogue and when referring to other male characters, and it was difficult to proofread.
What came easily?
While this story included a lot of pain, it also had a lot of hope. Somewhere Only We Know is all about finding hope and healing when it feels like you can’t go on, and my drive to convey this message to my readers allowed me to write this book quickly and easily.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
The characters in Somewhere Only We Know aren’t based on specific people, but their stories are based on the hundreds of stories I heard while in school and while researching this project.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Reading is so important to writing. In general, I’m influenced by Laurie Halse Anderson, Kiera Cass, Neal Shusterman, and Kathryn Holmes. These are all young adult writers that I look up to. I’ve read multiple books by all of these authors, and what I love about them is their strong voices. All four of these authors have created books that completely pull me in with their unique characters and stories.
For Somewhere Only We Know specifically, I read a lot of related books to help inspire me for the story: Speak and The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Push by Sapphire, The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, and The Book Thief by Marcus Zusack. I love how in all of these stories the characters find hope despite what they’ve gone through.
Do you have a target reader?
The girls in Somewhere Only We Know are victims of all kinds of abuse, so I definitely wanted to write this book for young girls who experience abuse. But I think that it’s really for anyone who’s going through something that seems impossibly hard, something that makes it seem like you can’t keep going. I hope that my book can bring hope and healing to them.
The one thing I wanted readers to remember when they finished reading the book is that their story isn’t over yet. No matter what you’ve gone through—whether it’s abuse like the girls in my book, or any other difficult situation like depression or an eating disorder—you can change. You can find hope again. You can overcome whatever it is you’ve gone through. You get to decide how the story ends. You get to write a new story.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I’ve written three manuscripts so far, and with each one my process was completely different. You have to figure out what’s best for the individual project you’re working on. In general, my process has been to sit on an idea for some time to let it ripen. Then I do the necessary research and read comparable books. And then I write the story from beginning to end. I can’t jump around or I get confused.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
I’m still trying to figure out what amount of outlining works best for me. With Somewhere Only We Know, I found it best to do all of my reading and research upfront. Then I would outline a couple scenes, go write them, outline a couple more, and repeat. I couldn’t see to the end of the book when I was working on it. My family asked how it would end and I honestly didn’t know. Even though I couldn’t see the bigger picture of the story, I still had to extensively plan out each scene before I wrote it.
With other projects I’ve been trying to do more outlining up front. Somewhere Only We Know had a relatively simple structure with a straightforward timeline and one narrator. So I’m trying to plan ahead more with a more complicatedly-structured story.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
I edit as I go. Every day I read what I did the day before and edit before I keep moving forward. I would get overwhelmed if I waited until the end and was faced with an entire unedited manuscript. I like to know that what’s behind me is in decent shape, and by reviewing what I’ve already done, I have a better sense of where the story is going as I continue writing.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
I love listening to music while I write. When I’m at home I have a Christian radio station on non-stop. The songs they play remind me of all of the themes I want to write about: hope, healing, redemption. When I write elsewhere I usually listen to movie scores through headphones. My favorite composers are Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
I’ve submitted the past manuscripts I’ve written to agents, and only received rejections. But those were the books I needed to write to learn how to write. I never submitted Somewhere Only We Know though. Rather, when I wasn’t too far into the book I found a publisher, GenZ Publishing, on Twitter. I fell in love with their message about publishing for young people and I told them what I was working on. I was asked to query them, and signed with them when my book was only a third complete.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
It is definitely still my dream to be traditionally published, but I knew that independent publishing would be a great first stepping stone. When I found GenZ Publishing, I knew that they would be a great fit for my work. I really enjoy working with them, and I love how my book turned out. They allowed me to get a book out in the world, which is the first important step in my career.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
My publisher created Somewhere Only We Know’s beautiful cover. I had a hand drawing of how I wanted the font and said I wanted a tree on the cover, due to the importance of nature in the book, and they created the most perfect cover.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I’m just winging it for now. Marketing is definitely something I struggle with because I am an extremely introverted person. I’ve been doing a lot of research on marketing and taking online classes to learn more.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
If you want to be a writer then commit yourself to that. Find what it is that you have to say. Always be a student of your craft. Finish what you start. And then figure out what the best way is for you to get your story out in the world.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Chicago, and my family moved back and forth between Illinois and Ohio suburbs as I grew up.
Where do you live now?
My husband and I both went to Wright State University, and we’ve stayed in the Dayton area. I love the arts community in Dayton. There are so many supportive local authors here.
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I feel so blessed that I now get to live my dream and write as a full time job. When I’m not writing, I enjoy going to the library, serving at my church, crafting, making jewelry, spending time with family, and hanging out with my husband and puppy.
What are you working on now?
I’m in the early stages of working on a young adult dystopian book.
End of Interview: