This month’s Author Takeover comes from the fantastic Louise Gornall, whose inspiring and honest first book, Under Rose-Tainted Skies, is released this week. This is an important and uplifting debut from a British author, which tackles mental health issues such as agoraphobia and OCD. Discover the ways that Louise sees the personal magic and strength you demonstrate daily in living with mental health issues.
Agoraphobia confines Norah to the house she shares with her mother. But a chance encounter with her next door neighbour changes everything. Her love and bravery opens a window to unexpected truths …
Louise Gornall is a YA aficionado, film nerd, junk food enthusiast, and rumored pink Power Ranger. You can find Louise on Twitter @rock_andor_roll
Determination Is Magic
I’m going to be honest, when I was first asked to write a post for MuggleNet (and what is arguably the most devoted fandom on the planet), I wasn’t sure how to approach. May have been a little scared also. See, Under Rose-Tainted Skies is a contemporary story about a girl trying to live within the confines of her mental health. Or, to put it another way, it’s not about a boy who discovers he’s a wizard, goes to a magic school, is forced to endure some brutal treatment and lead an epic battle before cementing his place as the greatest wizard of all time.
…that said, after taking a closer look, I was really happy to discover that Harry, and my main character, Norah, do have a couple of things in common. So here goes…
Harry and Norah share a strength that a lot of people forget about. Like Harry, Norah’s not hitting the gym daily and boasting rock-hard abs, biceps, triceps, forceps, sidesteps, etc. — I’m not very gym savvy. Instead, when our heroes’ lives start looking like a garbage dump, they imbibe a different kind of strength, one that is often overlooked by its host, because, well, you can’t see it, and like most things you can’t see, it’s hard to believe it exists.
This type of strength doesn’t help you twist the lid off jam jars, it can’t bench press 180, and it’s probably never going to bloody up a nose, but it is there nonetheless. And it’s got your back. It’s the driving force that drags your butt out of bed in a morning when you’re feeling low. It’s the steel that stiffens your shoulders when the odds are stacked against you. It’s the strings that lift your chin off your chest when you can’t face looking life in the eyes. It fans the flames of enthusiasm when you’re having a hard time getting dressed, eating, talking, sleeping, breathing. Don’t forget about this strength, you guys. As our heroes consistently show us, this kind of strength wins battles…epic, and internal.
I think it’s fair to say that neither of our heroes really knows who they are as life grabs them by the scruff of the neck and dumps them in at the deep end, without even asking if they can swim…
It’s fate. Written in the stars.
Part of some big plan.
It sucks. And it’s unavoidable. See, like our young wizard and his magic mark, Norah has no control over what she’s going through. And now this thing is demanding near-constant attention, while simultaneously ruining changing their lives. There’s a loneliness that comes with that kind of uniqueness, too.
Brutal honesty alert — you struggle to find people that understand you or what you’re going through. Or maybe you find great people, but stop seeing them as people and start seeing them as collateral damage, as someone who will eventually get tired of all your stuff and give up on you.
I have to tell you, none of that is true. You’re not alone in the battles you have to face, or alone in the wars you’re forced to fight. The world is full of people who want to help you.
How do I know this? Errr… have you even met Ron and Hermione?!
No, but seriously. I know this because I am Norah. My Norah. I’m an agoraphobic with OCD and a whole host of other stuff that desperately wants me to fail. My hobbies include self-sabotage and assuming people don’t like me. But since writing Rose, I’ve learnt that the world is full of care and compassion. There are communities out there that want to wrap you in a bear hug and never let you go. Professionals who don’t think you’re a member of some bizarre alien race. Total strangers who will take your call and lift you over the highest hurdles. The only downside is…remember that invisible strength we talked about earlier? You may need to embrace that, because, let’s face it, if talking to people is hard, telling people your greatest fears and weaknesses is that metal the Wolverine’s skeleton is made of. Solid. But it can be done. I promise.
Bottom line: Magic is not that dissimilar from determination, and, in the right hands, you can use it to destroy your demons.