“Tender, fresh, and darkly comic.”
–Tish Cohen, Author of Inside Out Girl
Since Shana Mahaffey has always been fascinated by how the mind works, it should not be surprising that she chose this ambitious topic for the idea of her debut novel, Sounds Like Crazy. Or, at least, her own mind pondered the mental ability of creatively coping for survival when faced with the trauma of loss, guilt, and anguish.
Pondering is this author’s “what if?” process and, in pondering how someone — crushed by a painful childhood — unconsciously has allowed five distinct personalities to mentally cope for her, Holly Miller appeared. Rather than referring to Holly as the protagonist or even main character, Shana claims her as the flawed narrator of the novel for there are those five other bodies and voices rattling around in Holly’s head.
Does this sound much more like confusing than just plain crazy?
It’s true that when the reader first meets about-to-turn thirty year old Holly her own personality is elusive, if not simply beaten down by the other five, aka the Committee. However Holly is not Sybil who lost track of time and was unaware that multiple personas existed within her. Instead the narrator of Sounds Like Crazy lives with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and is well aware when another personality takes control, but lacks the ability (and often the desire) to stop them.
To understand and accurately create a character with DID, Shana read and researched the subject, discovering her most telling information written in online blogs and comments from individuals suffering from a splintered psyche. In fact the novelist admits that this is where she realized true compassion for Holly and for anyone suffering from DID.
Concerned that a crash course in psychiatry may be required to enjoy Sounds Like Crazy?
Discover there’s no need to worry by reading the synopsis:
Though she doesn’t remember the trauma that caused it, Holly Miller has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Her personality has fractured into five different identities, together known as The Committee. And as much as they make Holly’s life hell, she can’t live without them.
Then one of those identities, the flirtatious, southern Betty Jane, lands Holly a voiceover job. Betty Jane wants nothing more than to be in the spotlight. The rest of The Committee wants Betty Jane to shut up. Holly’s therapist wants to get to the bottom of her broken psyche. And Holly? She’s just along for the ride…
In this Book Trailer for Sounds Like Crazy, view “the darkly comic” side of the story.
An Interview with Holly Miller
You’ve just met Holly as well as her five other personalities. And now a word from the author who was interviewed on KPIX Channel 5 Bay Sunday.
Without question Sounds Like Crazy is complicated…in a good way. The many layers, challenges, and mysterious demons of Holly Miller chronicle the journey of a young woman in search — at times — for her true identity as well as purpose in life. Ah, then, does this novel fall into the genre of chick lit/women’s fiction? It certainly does, albeit with the inclusion of a serious mental health disorder.
Yes Holly — alone, scrambling for work, acceptance, and love in New York City — may have more obvious and serious challenges to conquer than other thirty year old characters recently encountered in fiction. However that’s what makes her story compelling. She yearns to be normal, free to be in control of her life and its choices…except that giving in and having a Committee of five be responsible for your actions can be welcome and much too easy. Besides, since they began moving into her head during childhood, they all have reasons for being there.
Those reasons, their real identities, and whether Holly is strong enough to live without them prove to be both fascinating and frustrating. Just as the author found compassion for Holly, so also does she pass it on to the reader. A well-written, well-told tale that turns out to be heartbreakingly plausible, Sounds Like Crazy also provides just enough real life humor to offer recognition of universal human nature. After all don’t we all hear at least one voice in our head?
To read more about what others are saying about Shana Mahaffey’s debut novel, please visit her website’s News page. To get to know Holly and share a uniquely insightful journey for her true identity, indulge in and enjoy Sounds Like Crazy!
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Shana Mahaffey’s Sounds Like Crazy in a random drawing of comments left on this post. Everyone — readers and writers alike — is welcome to participate before the deadline of this Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm EST. The winners will be announced here in Thursday’s post.