[Jennifer Gooch Hummer’s debut novel Girl Unmoored could simply be described as stunning and be left at that. And maybe it should be, allowing readers to wonder, then discover on their own what makes it so.
The best news is that today’s guest post offers a sample of the author’s voice on her feelings and thoughts as Jennifer shares why she writes….(brilliantly).]
When my kids were still too young to taste the difference between brownies made with water and brownies made with broccoli, my husband went to Mt Everest for two months. Two months. He’s a sports broadcaster. It was a show. I talked to him once a week from base camp.
There were days when the only people I spoke to were three feet tall. Staying sane was a top priority, so I had to come up with a plan. I decided to pretend there were secret cameras in every corner of my house. That way, when I most wanted to scream my brains out, I would think twice and remember to at least smile as I did. And as nutty as this sounds, it helped. (I also taught them to address me as their “young-looking beautiful mom” whenever they asked for something.)
This is how writers go through life. Not as that insane mother, but as the hidden camera. We’re watchers. We watch people when they don’t know it. We watch people when we don’t know it. And weirdest of all, we watch ourselves and know it.
I write because I’ve always been the hidden camera. When I was seven years old, I was brushing my teeth one day, minding my own business, when the girl in the mirror smirked at me. “You’re going to be a writer you know.” “Nope,” I said. Writers were old and not pretty and not famous. Plus, I had big plans to be a professional Avon lady. There was no way I was going to be a writer. “You’ll see,” that little girl said. And by fourth grade I knew she was right.
I often wonder if whoever designed this thing called “Life” fell asleep at the wheel a few times. Why else would bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad? But writers can fix this. We add the motives to the craziness. Selfish, self-centered, mean? You don’t get the girl at the end. Humble, caring, funny? You do. It might be cliché, but it’s also reassuring. Writers are like ER doctors; we never know what kind of trauma we’re going to find when we show up at the page each day, but whatever it is, it’s our job to fix it.
Being the hidden camera can be solid gold at times. But it’s also a bit of a curse. When I’m away from the page for too long, my brain gets tangled and scrambled and snarled. The things I’ve seen or thought or watched in the passing wordless days make no sense. These motive-less moments get all cramped together inside that too-small space between my ears and pretty soon – we all know – it’s gonna’ blow.
I wish it weren’t this way. I wish I could stop assigning reasons as to why my mail person consistently wears a knee brace on the right knee one day, but on the left the next. I wish I would stop wondering why that guy I see at Starbucks who’s dressed in an Armani suit drives a red beat up truck. And mostly, I really wish I had just done the math on the SAT’s instead of staring off into space wondering why Jimmy had seventeen marbles while LaShawn only had six – did Jimmy steal them? Are they siblings? Is he threatening to beat her up if she tells anyone?
Okay, so I didn’t get into my first-choice college. But I’d be willing to bet my mother’s circa 1960 Pucci pants that I’m not the only writer out there whose head is in a constant state of repair. And I think we’d all agree that these brain explosions are much better splattered on paper rather than on family, friends and dentists. Personally, I need these people, I love these people (not my dentist) and even though I wish I could edit them sometimes (did I mention I have three tween/teenage daughters now?) staying sane for them is still a top priority.
So I write.
And every minute of every day I feel so lucky that I do.
In The Revealing of Jennifer Gooch Hummer, the phenomenal praise for Girl Unmoored was noted along with the news that the book had won the Paris Book Festival Award 2012, Best YA Fiction. Since then this unforgettable novel has also won The San Francisco Book Festival Awards 2012 – Teen Fiction, Next Generation Indie Awards for YA Fiction, Finalist in the Next Gen Indie for Best Chick Lit, and Finalist for Best Fiction Cover. Please disregard the YA and Teen Fiction labeling. This is a coming-of-age story — a tale in which lessons are learned about life and love at any age! [In fact, according to Amazon tracking, customers who purchased Girl Unmoored also bought Fifty Shades of Grey. I rest my case. 😉]
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.