Friday, March 13, 2020

Author Q&A: Emily Bleeker

Emily Bleeker is quickly becoming a favorite author for me  - I've read some of her more recent books and really enjoyed them.  Her latest book, What It Seems, will be published next week. Earlier today I shared my review of the book - you can read that here. Today I have a conversation that Emily has prepared that I found to be quite interesting.  Do let me know if you'll be picking up this book - I'd love to discuss it with you.

An Interview with EMILY BLEEKER

1. What responsibility do you think literature has to educate people about issues like domestic violence?
I have always said that I think books are one of the greatest methods for spreading empathy. When you watch a movie–you see someone else live though various situations. But when you read a book, you as the reader have the opportunity to take on someone else’s life for a few hours and days. When it comes to topics like abuse and control, I’ve seen far too often that it is easier and more comfortable for society at large to say one of two things: 1. It can’t be THAT bad or 2. Why don’t you just leave? This story takes a look at why it isn’t easy to leave abuse and how much internal resolve it takes to find your way out, not just from the grasp of the abuser but also from the prison of your own limitations. The more that readers can experience these worlds that might be outside their own life experiences, the more equipped they can be to stop asking the wrong questions like the ones above, and start asking the right ones like “How bad is it?” and “How can I support you?” and “How can I help you feel safe to leave?”

2. How do you talk to your daughter about technology, and the idea of YouTube families ?
A few years ago I heard a sing-songy woman’s voice coming out of my daughter’s bedroom. It turned out to be from a video my daughter was watching of a family vlogger on YouTube. At first I thought that these family vloggers were a wholesome alternative to cartoons or endless toy unboxings but as I listened to more of the videos, I came to see that these families were dangerous in their own way. They made it seem like their very nuclear seeming families were happy, perfect, clean, adventurous and problem free 97% of the time. My daughter, who had never seemed to be concerned about the fact that I’m a single mom, suddenly was asking me to get married to…just about anyone and have more children and live our lives more like the YouTube families she followed online. It was an uphill battle to explain to my four year old (at the time) that families come in all shapes and sizes, a lesson I thought she’d come to understand already. And I also tried to explain that the majority of what is put online is a polished, pretend version of reality. Not a very easy concept to cover with a small child. Now, when she watches YouTube videos we talk very openly about how everything is not exactly what it seems online and how important it is to live in the reality of her life and find joy, REAL joy, there.

3. Can you talk a little bit about the complications involved with domestic violence situations?
I think the most difficult thing to understand about domestic violence and abuse in general is how deeply mental the victim is conditioned by the abuser. There is a trauma bond formed that keeps the victim of the abuse or neglect from feeling like they can leave the situation and those reasons seem very real and insurmountable. Not to mention that 75% of domestic violence homicides happen when the victim is in the process of leaving their abuser. It can seem frightening and insurmountable to conquer solo which is why it is often too difficult to escape alone.

4. How has the success of your previous novels affected you?
I am so lucky to be able to support myself and my family as a full time writer. Honestly, my success’s greatest gift has been independence. But it also has helped me see that this world is full of so many opportunities and it is my job to keep working hard and seeking them out and encouraging others to treat their dreams and ambitions in a similar way.

***  Thank you BooksForward for sharing this conversation with Emily; and Emily, thank you for taking time to answer all these questions - they were so insightful!!! I really enjoyed your book and can't wait til the next one comes out!


What It Seems  by Emily Bleeker
Lake Union Publishing
March 17, 2020
Paperback ISBN: 978-1542043748

E-book ISBN: B07T23V938

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