Baring the Soul through Fiction
By Stephanie Carroll
“We’re all strangers connected by what we reveal, what we share, what we take away–our stories. I guess that’s what I love about books–they are thin strands of humanity that tether us to one another for a small bit of time, that make us feel less alone or even more comfortable with our aloneness, if need be.”
There are two books that I have connected with on a very deep level: White Oleander by Janet Fitch and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. White Oleander is a book about a young girl who grows up in the foster care system after her mother is imprisoned for murdering a man. The Time Traveler’s Wife is about two people in love, and how they carry out their lives together despite the fact that the man in the relationship randomly pops in and out of time without any control over it.
I have not experienced any of those situations. My mother was not imprisoned, I was never in the foster system, and my husband cannot time travel . . . not even a little. Yet, these books impacted my life. I felt like I was the characters, that I lived their lives, that I understood them because I had gone through the exact same thing even when I hadn’t. I connected with the characters and the stories in a way that revealed something about who I am to myself. While reading both of these books, I felt like the authors had reached inside of me, the deepest aspects of who I am as a person, held up a mirror and said: Look how beautiful you are.
As a writer, that is my goal, to connect with another person on that level. It starts with shared experiences, connecting to the humanity within us all. It’s more than that though. The experiences, emotions, and thoughts that I create in my fiction, aren’t just things I’ve made up and manipulated to feel real. I’ve put my heart and soul into those characters, into their emotions, into their lives. I’ve used parts of my personal life, my personal fears and failures and moments of bliss to breathe life into my stories. They are fictional, but they have come out of a very real place, from me, my history, and the core of who I am.
Through my fiction, I reveal things that I have never been able to share with others, not because I couldn’t explain it, but because you can’t really communicate every facet of an experience to someone. They have to experience it for themselves. Taking a person through an experience may be entertaining, sometimes it might be enlightening, but other times it is something deeper. Something is there in the story that a reader recognizes as a part of who he or she is. By baring my humanity, my soul in my fiction, I’m reaching out and trying to connect with that one person who reads it and thinks: I understand because I am the same.
Stephanie Carroll is the author of Gothic Victorian novel A White Room, now on sale for a limited time for $0.99 cents. As a reporter and community editor, Stephanie Carroll earned first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and from the Nevada Press Association. She holds degrees in history and social science and graduated summa cum laude. Her Gothic and magical writing style is inspired by the classic authors Charlotte Perkins Gilman (The Yellow Wallpaper), Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden), and Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights). Find Stephanie Carroll on Facebook – Twitter – Goodreads or on her website at www.stephaniecarroll.net.
About A White Room
At the close of the Victorian Era, society still expected middle-class women to be “the angels of the house,” even as a select few strived to become something more. In this time of change, Emeline Evans dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when her father dies unexpectedly, Emeline sacrifices her ambitions and rescues her family from destitution by marrying John Dorr, a reserved lawyer who can provide for her family.
John moves Emeline to the remote Missouri town of Labellum and into an unusual house where her sorrow and uneasiness edge toward madness. Furniture twists and turns before her eyes, people stare out at her from empty rooms, and the house itself conspires against her. The doctor diagnoses hysteria, but the treatment merely reinforces the house’s grip on her mind.
Emeline only finds solace after pursuing an opportunity to serve the poor as an unlicensed nurse. Yet in order to bring comfort to the needy she must secretly defy her husband, whose employer viciously hunts down and prosecutes unlicensed practitioners. Although women are no longer burned at the stake in 1900, disobedience is a symptom of psychological defect, and hysterical women must be controlled.
A novel of madness and secrets, A White Room presents a fantastical glimpse into the forgotten cult of domesticity, where one’s own home could become a prison and a woman has to be willing to risk everything to be free.
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