Interview with Kathleen Glasgow: Reading, Writing, and Her Debut Novel– Girl in Pieces
Kathleen Glasgow is the debut author of the heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of a girl named Charlie, whose life has slowly started falling to pieces. With an incredible message for teens and a pulse-pounding plot, Girl in Pieces is a novel that teen readers of all ages are sure to be enthralled with. Pick up your own copy of Girl in Pieces on August 30th and discover what it means to fall in love, to feel lost in the world, and to put your life back together piece by piece.
What inspired you to write such an intense and brutally honest story?
I was inspired to write Charlie Davis’s story because of a girl I saw on the bus with fresh scars on her arms. I never talked to her. I never said, “Hey, I’m just like you; you aren’t alone.” I should have, and I didn’t. I had three goals in writing Girl in Pieces: to talk about how hard it is to be a girl in a world that doesn’t value your intelligence or dreams, only your body type; to write about a girl who doesn’t get better because she meets a boy, but gets to a better place because she works hard to find her voice and live her dreams; and to write the hell out of this story. I think it worked!
When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
It sounds silly, but I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was little. Reading was protection and escape for me. After a time, I just started making up my own stories and losing myself in those.
Have you always thought of yourself as a writer?
I don’t think I ever thought of myself as a writer until I started publishing poems and stories in literary journals. I don’t mean to say that you are only a writer if you are published, because if you want to be a writer, just write. But for me, it meant something to follow that path of writing, revising, writing the query letter, sending the work, and waiting for rejection or acceptance. And when you first see your name in a magazine, along with the story or poem you worked so hard on, it’s freaking amazing.
What books or authors have impacted your writing the most?
Really, a book has to have a tremendous amount of voice and character for me. I can forgive lapses in plot if the character’s personality is strong enough. I like feeling as though the main character is talking directly to me, so one of my favorite books of all time is The Catcher in the Rye, because Holden was one of the first fictional characters that mirrored my situation: depressed, lonely, suicidal, lost. I would say that book, polarizing as it is, is what has impacted my style the most.
What steps did you take in getting your book published? Was it as difficult as you thought it would be?
I was writing another novel when I decided to tell Charlie’s story. I worked on the book for eight years and thirteen total drafts before landing a book contract. I had a full-time job and basically made do with scribbling words whenever I could find time. I found my first agent at the Taos Writer’s Workshop, which was a tremendously supportive writing community. My agent and I parted ways eventually; I think my book was just not a good fit for her list in the end. So I waited for a few months and then started researching agents. I needed someone who could be a champion for Girl in Pieces, which goes to some pretty dark places but is ultimately a book with a ton of hope and heart. I’ll apologize to all writers right now because after my new agent sent Girl in Pieces out on submission, we had several offers within five days, and that was that. So, to sum up: It was difficult, but then it was kind of effortless.
Other than writing, what activities or hobbies do you enjoy?
Ha! I have two small kids, so their hobbies are my hobbies, if you get my drift. Making pits in the backyard out of mud and water for plastic dinosaurs. Figuring out how to eat yogurt through a straw. Perfecting cannonballs in the pool. Giving the dog a bath is always a big, messy hit. You can never go wrong with giving a dog a bath because it always ends the same glorious way: the dog shaking a torrential, slow-mo ocean of dog water on everybody and everything.
Are you and your main character, Charlotte Davis, similar in any way?
I based Charlie’s experiences with depression on my own experiences, but her story is her own, just like my story is my own. I love Charlie because of her messiness, her fears, her bravery, her resilience, her hope and heart. I wrote her as the best friend I always wanted, basically, and I’d be her friend in a heartbeat. I did give her my taste in music, though, and my penchant for Polaroid Land Cameras.
If you could live in one book universe, which would it be?
That question makes me really anxious! Like, I don’t want to pick fantasy or science fiction because those things are super complicated with a lot of characters and worlds and rules, and I’ve never been good at lots of people, rules, and worlds. I don’t want to pick a really sad book universe because that would be really…sad. And there are funny book universes, but who wants to laugh all the time, either? That would be too manic. I could pick a kid’s book with animals, but then I’d be the only human, and would I have to feed them? What if the bunny in Runaway Bunny turned on me? Obviously, I cannot answer this question. Now I need coffee. Excuse me.
Are you currently working on any other books? If so, what can you reveal about them at this time?
I signed a two-book contract, so I am currently in the last, desperate gasp of finishing the second book, which is about a girl named Tiger Tolliver, a horse named Opal, a girl named Cake, Earthships, skateboards, heartbreak, and the song “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac.
Finally, what advice do you have for teen writers?
Keep writing. Someone out there needs your story more than anything in the world. You don’t know them yet, but you will. Don’t stop until the story is in their hands.