When I was told about Emily Beaver and her debut novel Slipping Reality, I knew my students would love interviewing her. They were touched by her story and amazed that she wrote this book at such a young age (she was 14!). Thank you, Emily, for answering my students’ questions!
Summary of Slipping Reality (From Goodreads): In a time of hardship and heartbreak, sometimes, reality just isn’t enough. Slipping Reality is the story of fourteen-year-old Katelyn Emerson, who, when faced with the glaring reality of her brother’s illness, rebels against the truth by slipping away into the depths of her own imagination. There, she finds the kind of support and comfort she feels she deserves. There, she does not have to feel so alone. And yet, as Katelyn’s grasp on reality begins to unravel, so too does the story of a girl who grew up too fast and fell apart too soon. Emily Beaver’s debut novel is a coming of age story that deals with the trials of young grief, insight, and growth where it’s least expected.
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- Did your brother ask you to write a book about him or just a normal book?
Hi, Ethan! Nope, he didn’t ask a single thing of me. I wrote the book on my own, and he just supported it. I never told him it was about him or had anything to do with him – at the time of his death he was still reading my first novel, which was significantly different from the type of book Slipping Reality is. I did tell him about Slipping Reality, though, I just didn’t mention the plot. He told me he hoped it was published, and here we are now!
- How difficult was it to write while your brother was sick? Did it encourage you more or make it harder?
Hi, Chris! It was actually not difficult at all – I needed it like I needed air. To have a place to go outside of my world was just what I needed. It only was difficult when my brother had actually died, and I had to go back and write the book like he was still living. I’ll never forget how it felt to fill out the rest of the dedication page to him – I had left it with his birth date and a dash mark, and waited until his actual dying day to fill the rest of it in with the year of his death. That really put things into perspective for me, about how important the story was and that definitely encouraged me a lot.
- Do you ever feel like if your book doesn’t become popular, you’ll disappoint your brother?
Hi, Rebecca! That’s a good question. I like to believe no matter what I do my brother will be proud of me, so long that I continue to live my life the way it was meant to be lived – happily, making smart choices and having a great time. I like to think he’d be happy with the book whether it’s read by one person or the entire world. Success isn’t measured in how many people read (or, by extension, like) my book. It’s measured in what you do with what you love and the feeling that you’ve put yourself out there and made a difference. Even if that difference is only in your life alone.
- How accurate is this story when it comes to the truth of what you went through?
Hello, Jessica! There are moments throughout the story that are completely accurate. It would take a while to list them all, but I do have a best friend named Lauren, I do have a dog named Rocket and I used to have one named Anna, and most of what Matthew went through in the book Matthew went through in real life as well, if not all of it (just not necessarily in the same order as my memory went numb from time to time writing it). The scene right before Katelyn finds out Matthew’s going to die and refuses to go to sleep is actually based on a true story, except without the Tristan part. The night before I found out my brother was going to die for certain I refused to go to bed and wouldn’t stop sobbing, and when my dad asked why I told him I didn’t want to face tomorrow, and that I had a really bad feeling about tomorrow. It turned out I was right, and I felt that was important to include in the story. But the visions, Tristan and Cedric, and those sort of things are not true – only the love Katelyn had for her brother, some of the elements about her and her life, and the decline of Matthew’s health is true.
- Did you feel a lot of pressure to write a really good story, considering the circumstances?
Of course! I don’t think there’s a single writer that wants their story to be bad. I guess I had to prove myself even more, though, because I’m young and because I wanted so badly to honor my brother through this novel. There were times where I felt like giving up completely on my story because I believed I couldn’t get it to the kind of love and emotion I felt. There were times where I felt like my story wasn’t good enough in any aspect. But the beautiful thing about writing, and any kind of art, is that it’s subjective. One person may love my story and another may find it boring and overdramatic. Who knows? It’s all opinion. I try to think about that rather than defining the actual quality of my book.
- How did you come up with the title?
Hi, Torey! I came up with the title the second I sat down at my computer to write Slipping Reality. It just came to me. I liked the sound of it, especially the word ‘slipping’, because it made me think of myself and how I was slipping from my comfortable place as a teenage girl into this world and tragedy that no one should ever go through. The title kind of has two meanings to me – one being the literal slipping of reality that Katelyn goes through, and the other of the way that reality kind of slips away from you when things don’t go according to plan. I always consider it a good omen when I can think of titles right away, because it usually means I’ve got a book I can finish.
- Being so young, how did you get your book recognized?
By just that – being so young! And sending it to lots and lots of people. I was very lucky to have been noticed, and even more lucky to have such wonderful people supporting and believing in me. I can’t ever know if my book will amount to anything near a bestseller, but the possibility is unreal to me. My book is definitely not that recognized – yet – but maybe one day it will be!
Thanks for all of your questions, guys! Very good questions and most of them I haven’t been asked before! What fun for me.