Julia, what scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud?
The hardest scene to write was Natalie’s meltdown.
For an autism parent, it’s incredibly difficult to watch my child become so overwhelmed and anxious that she melts down. As much as I want to take her distress away, I’m mostly helpless to make it happen. My best option is to be present, watching and aching and hoping the anxiety attack ends soon. When it’s over, my child is exhausted, or embarrassed, or defeated—and there’s nothing I can do to fix that either.
I had to bleed that experience out on paper, with all its feelings of utter inadequacy, and I had to channel it through a teen girl. It’s Brooke’s first time to be Natalie’s sole support during a meltdown. Brooke has to stay calm even though she’s terrified of making things worse for this person she wants so badly to help. Every time I re-read that scene, it makes me cry.
While the meltdown scene was the hardest to write, it’s not the one I’m the most proud of. That comes a couple of scenes later, when Natalie and Brooke talk about what happened. They’re painfully honest and open with each other. It’s one of those moments where the author just had to get out of the way and let the two characters create something lovely on their own.
What do you hope readers will take away from FADE TO US?
There are two things that I hope readers will take away.
First, relationships are seriously hard. You can have the best of intentions—and throw your whole heart into being the ideal daughter/ friend/ sister/ partner—and still get it wrong. There is no way to mistake-proof relationships. So, forgive the people you love when they mess up. And forgive yourself when you do, too.
Secondly, people on the autism spectrum are more than their disability. They have fears and hopes and gifts. They like to laugh and talk. They can be grumpy, fun, aloof, and friendly. Their personalities are influenced by many things: their age, background, education, families, interests—and their disability. Autism is only one part of who they are.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Never forget your passion for writing. Publishing is a crazy business. There are so many other authors to compare yourself to. Just don’t. There are so many distractions to keep you from writing. Don’t let them. Remind yourself every day how much you love telling stories—and let the noise fall away.
ABOUT THE BOOKFade to Us
by Julia Day
Brooke's summer is going to be EPIC― having fun with her friends and a job that lets her buy a car. Then her new stepfather announces his daughter is moving in. Brooke has always longed for a sibling, so she’s excited about spending more time with her stepsister. But she worries, too. Natalie has Asperger’s--and Brooke's not sure how to be the big sister that Natalie needs.
After Natalie joins a musical theater program, Brooke sacrifices her job to volunteer for the backstage crew. She’s mostly there for Natalie, but Brooke soon discovers how much she enjoys being part of the show. Especially sweet is the chance to work closely with charming and fascinating Micah--the production’s stage manager. If only he wasn't Natalie's mentor...
When her summer comes to an end, will Brooke finally have the family she so desperately wants--and the love she's only dreamed about?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Have you had a chance to read FADE TO US yet? Have you managed to bleed the feelings of personal heartache into a scene? If so, does it make you cry when you reread? If not, what do you think you can do to make your scene feel more "real"?
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