HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH LENNON AND KYLER'S NAMES?
I knew that music had to connect them in some way, so I made Lennon’s mother a music lover. Lennon’s father works in the music industry. So to me, her name makes sense. I actually had a few choices and went with Lennon so that her dad could call her Bug, his little nickname for her. Sidenote: It’s kind of my thing to name girls after musicians in books, my ebook had Marley, named after Bob. :)
Kyler’s name is a bit different. I’m sorry to say there is no little backstory behind it. I think I googled on a baby name site ‘unique names for boys’ and it came up. They sounded good together, I thought. And from the moment I typed his first chapter, I felt so much like it fit!
KYLER IS A SINGER; WHOSE VOICE, (IF ANY) DID YOU HAVE IN MIND WHEN YOU WROTE HIM? ALSO, WHAT MUSIC DID YOU LISTEN TO WHILE YOU WROTE? DID IT INSPIRE YOU IN ANY WAY?
Kyler is a singer; whose voice (if any) did you have in mind when you wrote him? Also, what music did you listen to while you wrote - if any? Did it inspire you in any way?
Music is a HUGE inspiration for me. I didn’t have anyone’s voice in mind, maybe those grunge singers from my youth: Johnny Rzeznik, Gavin Rossdale, Trent Reznor… some old school awesome sound. As for what music I listen to… EVERYTHING
My number one go-to for writing inspiration is a band called Marianas Trench. Their music isn’t like anything you’ll hear anywhere else, their lyrics are thought provoking and raw and as far as I’m concerned, they are Canada’s greatest export. I’ve seen them 20 times in concert, and won’t stop until I’m too old to go.
Music specific to All Our Broken Pieces: a lot of angsty music, bands like: Red, Starset, Bring Me the Horizon, Rise Against, Parabelle, Breaking Benjamin, Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
If I could give Kyler and Lennon an official song, this would be it:
KYLER IS WITTY AND SARCASTIC; DID HIS VOICE EVOLVE, OR DID HE COME OUT OF YOUR IMAGINATION FULLY GROWN?
Kyler has always been that way from the start. He’s a bit like a dear friend of mine who is able to crack me up one second and offer great advice the next but also a bit like my son who probably has the driest sense of humour of anyone I’ve ever met. He’s so caustic, but he cracks me up too. I like sarcastic people. I extra like smart, sarcastic, big thinkers. That’s what I tired to make Kyler.
The opening chapter took me about three months because I was trying to open with Lennon. I wrote and edited and wrote and edited and wrote and edited FURIOUSLY to figure out what was wrong with it. It didn’t feel right. Then one of my earliest readers suggested flipping the opening to Kyler. I did. FLEW through his chapter, sent it to my agent and said OMG, I HAVE IT.
He emailed back, yes, yes you do! Keep going!
If not for Kyler’s voice being what it is, I’m not sure the book would’ve come out like it did.
LENNON IS HEARTBREAKING IN HER VULNERABILITY AND CANDID IN HER STRUGGLE WITH OCD AS SHE BATTLES A "LIFE SENTENCE OF WAR WITH MY OWN MIND." DID YOU RESEARCH OCD TO WRITE WITH SUCH INTEGRITY AND AUTHENTICITY?
I researched for a good two months before I started writing. I remember taking lunch breaks at work, closing my door and watching documentaries about OCD online. I read countless articles, spoke to a couple of friends with OCD, spoke to a mother of a child with OCD, had sensitivity reads and spoke with a psychiatrist who specializes in youth mental health.
I did not have to research the anxiety or panic aspect of Lennon’s life because it’s something we share. I have anxiety disorder that almost always revolves around convincing myself that people I love aren’t dying. In a former life, I was a catastrophic thinker—sometimes (much less often than before) I still can be. But with age, and having become a regular user of both anti-anxiety medication and a therapist, these episodes feel like a thing from my past. Those two things have changed my life which is why I think more people need to talk about it.
I tried to explain compulsion/ritualizing to the best of my understanding for what I’d learned — so that is researched but Lennon’s terror—is something that is deeply personal to me for the reasons above. I do hope both my portrayal of how I understand OCD and the portrayal of the heartbreak Lennon experiences blend together well.
MUSIC IS SO VITAL TO YOUR CHARACTERS AND PLOT? DID YOU WRITE KYLER'S LYRICS YOURSELF? DO YOU HAVE ANY BACKGROUND IN MUSIC?
YES! I did write them. When I was a kid, I was always writing poetry for all to read, so I guess it stems from that. I have no background in music at all— just a massive amount of appreciation for the art form. Since I was a kid, my mom always had good music cranked. I start and end my days listening to music. It’s just something I am fiercely passionate about.
WHAT WERE THE MOST GRATIFYING AND MOST FRUSTRATING PARTS OF WRITING THIS BOOK?
Writing it was the weirdest experience I’ve ever had as a writer. I’d go for weeks and weeks with nothing. Complete radio silence. Then in a weekend, Lennon and Kyler would decide they had something to say and out 12,000 words would come. Really good quality for a first draft, and then I’d spend weeks and weeks more with nothing, followed by another spew of words.
That’s never happened to me before, so it was super different and also a bit frustrating.
As for the parts that were gratifying? Talking about something we need to talk about. Mental health is a real issue and if it doesn’t concern you directly, I can almost guarantee it concerns someone you love. The statistical probability is staggering, as Lennon would say. :) I’m proud to have written something that I hope gives a voice to people who need it. It was also an incredibly cathartic book to write given my own experiences with anxiety.
CAN YOU SHARE ONE LINE OF ALL OUR BROKEN PIECES THAT YOU ARE ESPECIALLY PROUD OF?
If pain is transformative, falling in love must a complete metamorphosis.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MERMAID QUOTE?
‘I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depth, and a great fear of shallow living.’ - Anias Nin
WHY SHOULD READERS WRITE BOOK REVIEWS?
Because every time you read a book and don’t review it, an author looses a sliver of their soul :)
In all seriousness though, reviewing books is important for so many reasons. If you love a book, the best way you can thank an author is to review it. It drives visibility and sales which trickles down to then allowing the author another shot at their next book. If you hate a book and find it incredibly problematic, it’s well within your right to say so and maybe would help like minded people avoid reading something they wouldn’t enjoy.
That seems obvious though. Less obvious would be that it doesn’t matter what ‘level’ of your writing career you are on. Starting out, debut, 20 books under your belt, it’s the same for all: almost every single writer I know will go through phases where we question why we do this, etc. Negative thoughts can try to sneak in and tell you that everything you’ve ever written belongs in the trash. When you are feeling THAT down, look at your phone and have a review from someone who says your book changed their life—in a millisecond— your attitude is adjusted and your hope somehow renewed.